1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
I am an electrical engineering apprentice, currently on a placement in a technical team in within DSTL. I currently review and analyse electronic exhibits and specimens. Also I have to use various engineering skills such as soldering and reflow, in order to create facsimiles for testing and evaluation by my team and others. I also can be asked to write reports on my findings and submit them to others in the defence community.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
Mainly, I have been able to develop my skills and knowledge of electronics and the appropriate practises for both assembly and disassembly. In addition to this, I have also improved my networking skills as my role within a team has led me to meet new people both internally part of DSTL and external agencies as well.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
I enjoy my program and the opportunities it gives to me. There are times when work can be a bit slow, which can be slightly demotivating, but the work is interesting and challenging and generally comes in peaks and troughs. I much prefer the programme now the level 2 sections have been completed at our training provider.
4. How well organised/structured is your programme?
My program is fairly well organised and there is a clear goal at the end, which is to complete the qualification and become a full time employee within a team at DSTL. However, the placements have been slightly irregular in their nature, in that we had a lull of around a month, after we finished our level 2 at the training provider, before we started placements.
5. How much support do you receive from your employer?
I receive a fair amount of support from my employer. Admittedly it is less support than I received when I was in my first year, but that is understandable given the fact I have now had time to get used to working within the organisation. On the whole, the support given is good and my team leaders are always able to provide advice and guidance when needed.
6. How much support do you receive from your training provider when working towards your qualifications?
My time at my training provider was probably the least enjoyable part of the entire apprenticeship scheme. Although the delivery of the course was good initially, after around a year of the 18 months at the provider the quality and standards began to drop - this is especially true of the rate at which work has been marked by them.
7. How well do you feel that your qualification (through your training provider) helps you to perform better in your role?
I feel that the qualification that I have received has allowed me to perform better in my role in a variety of ways. Most importantly, it has given me the skills, knowledge, and confidence to be able to carry out my day to day role without feeling like I am lacking the skills to do so, something of which has been invaluable to me.
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.)
There are a number of extra-curricular activities that I get involved in at work. The main ones are external engineering competitions of which apprentices are invited to. As well as this, there is also the opportunity to attend careers fairs and represent DSTL and the apprenticeship scheme at a whole host of events both external to DSTL and internal.
9a. Would you recommend DSTL to a friend?
I think the scheme is a great opportunity to get into the defence industry and really make a difference. It also opens a whole host of opportunities within DSTL, such as going on to a full-time role at the end and also becoming part of the graduate scheme and getting a HND or even a degree paid for by DSTL.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to DSTL?
My advice would be to ensure that you come into the organisation with an open mind, as it does have a historically negative reputation, and also to be as honest as possible in your application. Also ensure that you have a keen interest in engineering and defence, as these are what the organisation is centred around.
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