1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
I design and build test systems for a range of railway signalling systems. I use CAD software to make a variety of designs, from cable assemblies and circuits to entire test rigs containing multiple cabinets full of test equipment and signalling products. When the parts required for the designs have been ordered I then build the system(s) and load the required software and data.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
I have gained a lot of knowledge of the railway industry as a whole, particularly railway signalling systems and how all the different parts work together and interface with each other. I have gained skills in Computer Aided Design. I have developed my skills with using tools (including soldering). I have developed my skills in networking including designing and building networks. I have developed my skills in teamworking.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
I really enjoy my programme. My team is really nice and everyone is friendly and helpful. The work that I have been doing has been very interesting, and as I have progressed through the programme I have had increasing responsibility. It is rewarding because you can see how your work as impacted people in real life.
4. How well organised/structured is your programme?
To begin with, the programme was not very well organised. When I started the programme a lot of important information was not conveyed to me by the apprenticeship manager, and the important training that is supposed to be given at the start of the programme was not done until a year later. However, after 1 year completing a college course that was not relevant to my work we persuaded our apprenticeship manager to change the programme. This enabled me to begin the degree course that I am currently studying with the Open University.
5. How much support do you receive from your employer?
My employer is very supportive. I know that I can go to my line manager, team manager, department manager or apprenticeship manager for anything and they will all be helpful and supportive. Siemens as a company are also very supportive and if there are any issues I can go to the relevant person(s) and they will sort it out in a supportive manner.
6. How much support do you receive from your training provider when working towards your qualifications?
The Open University is very supportive and there are a large number of people to which I can go for help. The feedback that I receive from my tutor when I submit assignments is extremely detailed and they always try to help me do better in future assignments by telling me what I could do better next time.
7. How well do you feel that your qualification (through your training provider) helps you to perform better in your role?
After studying for the qualification for just 7 months I can see that this course is and will be beneficial to me in my role. The degree course is entitled 'Digital Technology Solutions' and it contains both technical modules and modules aimed towards career development. I have just finished studying the first module on career development and it has been very helpful at improving employability skills and making me a better employee. I can't currently comment on the usefulness of the technical modules as I haven't started them yet, but looking through some of the course material I can see that it will be beneficial.
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.)
Siemens often run events at work, usually to do with charities, national events, equality and diversity. These are great to get involved in and are usually good fun. I don't think there are many social activities organised by the company outside of work, but I usually meet up with a group of other apprentices to have a meal or do an activity or something.
9a. Would you recommend Siemens to a friend?
Siemens has supported me from day one and are interested in my own personal development. My team could not be more supportive and friendly and I have been given lots of interesting work that I have really enjoyed doing. I can honestly say that there hasn't been a time that I have not been happy at Siemens.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to Siemens?
I cannot speak for the online application process because I was fast-tracked to an interview. The interview is a competency-based interview. You should come to this prepared with real-life examples of how you have used employability skills and technical abilities. You will also be required to demonstrate your technical knowledge.