1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
I am engineering apprentice which means my focus is more technical. I am based in the offices at MBDA where I will conduct placements in manufacturing engineering, test engineering, design support, calibration and maintenance and many more. On a day to day basis I will shadow an engineer in my department, work on small projects in the placement, assist operators on the shop floor and tackle jobs on my own. Furthermore, there are many extra curricular activities I get on with, from helping out on apprentice assessment days to visiting schools to help out with a careers fair.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
I have learnt so many new skills as well as developed existing ones, a few examples are as follows: I soldered during high school and college, however since then my ability has increased significantly as there are specific soldering specifications that I must adhere to and to ensure I am certified to solder I must pass an IPC exam. I have learnt many assembly techniques while working in different sections and different projects while on the shop floor. Furthermore, I have spent a lot of time performing different tests so I have an in depth knowledge in regards to different tests and different setups for all sorts of projects and test equipment. Since working with a wide variety of teams and in particular the other apprentices I have improved my team working skills as well as my communications skills as I will use these on a daily basis whether I am working on a job or whether I am on a training course! I have developed a skill for the use of CAD software, I spent 2 weeks in a Stereolithography placement in which required a lot of designing of parts and tools, my knowledge went from nothing to advanced in this space of time as I completed a workbook to help improve this knowledge and skill.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
My apprenticeship program is brilliant, I have enjoyed every minute of it so far. Everyone at MBDA is extremely friendly and easy to get on with and this helps so much when you are an apprentice and you spend 3 months in a placement and by the end of the first week you feel like a real team member to that project already. I enjoy every day I spend at MBDA because every single day is different, because of the wide variety of jobs and operations on each project within each section I will never be stuck on the same job from 7 till half 3, in addition to this none of the work is tedious, in fact some jobs are really complicated and I can spend ages trying to complete it and over come the challenge and it is so rewarding once the job is completed and you know you've made a real contribution to the final product. There are so many internal and external opportunities to help develop myself within this company and industry. For example, last year I represented MBDA in a business and university challenge in which we competed against them in small challenges regarding: innovation, communication, presentation and negotiating. We found the entire day from start to finish so beneficial to our development for our future careers.
4. How well organised/structured is your programme?
The entire programme is very well structured; when I first started I was off site for 4 months for our initial training that helps contribute to our NVQ. Then we went into more advanced training on site, which would involve techniques and processes we would use while on the shop floor, this was for roughly 2 months. I then began my first 'shop floor' placement. Each placement lasts for 3 months and every single areas is different, so far I have completed placements in PEC, MLU, Meteor and cables, FLAADS plus many more. All these sections are completely different, with PEC being dedicated to making PCBs and Meteor being a missile project. After I completed my shop floor placements I moved onto my engineering placements which include: design, manufacturing, industrial electronics, test and C&M. Again, each of these placements is 3 months long and then once I begin my final year I will spend 12 months within my chosen discipline. There are many different opportunities during this apprenticeship for development, such as I am currently a member of the Charity Challenge team.
5. How much support do you receive from your employer?
My employer continues to support me throughout each placement, from regular 'catch up meetings to email updates, visits and there are always opportunities to get involved with workshops and further training. For example I have recently been asked to represent the ECP in a workshop in Stevenage which I am really looking forward, I was chosen to get involved by my employer. In addition to this, I wanted to change some of my placements around to ensure I got the most out of it and my employer was more than happy to support this - from asking I have managed to secure a summer placement at Stevenage as well as working in other areas of the business which I would not have expected to when I first started!
6. How much support do you receive from your training provider when working towards your qualifications?
My training provider always provides support regarding our qualification whenever we need them, we have regular meetings where we discuss any issues and progress we have. Furthermore, even though they are offsite they are so easy to get hold of through email or to visit them in person as the training provider is a short car journey away! Whenever we have any questions or problems about the qualification, our training provider always knows the solution or answer due to how long they have been involved in this and because of their vast experience in this area.
7. How well do you feel that your qualification (through your training provider) helps you to perform better in your role?
The units we work towards are tailored to work we get involved with on site, each placement will require work on jobs that allow us to write up what we have done and how we did it and then we can reference it to our qualification to help us achieve the award. As the qualification was chosen by MBDA/Alliance learning, all the work we do is relevant and essential for our future career and it all links to each other and helps to understand each area much greater.
8. Are there extra-curricular activities to get involved in at your work? (For example, any social activities, sports teams, or even professional networking events.)
As stated earlier, there are many extra curricular activities I get on with, from helping out on apprentice assessment days to visiting schools to help out with a careers fair. I have very recently signed up to be a STEM ambassador! There are also so many social activities to get involved with, as I am part of the Charity Challenge team we help to run and organise sporting and social events throughout the year while also raising money for charity! There are also so many different networking events at MBDA either over lunch or day training courses that are easy to get involved with.
9a. Would you recommend MBDA to a friend?
Choosing to take an apprenticeship at MBDA was one of the best decisions I have ever made. From day one I am a permanent employee, the company looks after me so well regardless of where I am, whether I am on site in my placement, or on a trip to visit the royal naval base, they support me no matter what. Whenever I have had any issues or problems or even questions about the scheme and my development. They always get answered and my employee makes every effort to ensure I am happy at work. MBDA is a great place to work and I cannot wait for my future career at this company within this industry.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to MBDA?
I would advise to make yourself stand out from the crowd, prove to MBDA that engineering is your passion. It is essential that a good work/life balance is managed as college can get tough at times due to the demand and time required. Be ready for a challenge, because it isn't a walk in the park, there are days when it is hard and days when it is easy but MBDA will support you as much as you need, however it is important to create and make your own opportunities yourself rather than being spoon fed.
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