6 Crucial Tips When Considering an Apprenticeship

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Posted by  Shailaja Mantha
Posting date: 11/20/2023 08:26

I'm Mia Findlay, a third-year quantity surveying degree apprentice with our Projects and Programme Services team. In 2019, when I left secondary school, I still didn't know what I wanted to do. I looked at various apprenticeships. I even applied for a full-time course at Edinburgh Napier University and received an offer. But didn't accept it. The only thing I knew for sure was that I didn't want to go to university or college full-time.

Photo of Mia smiling towards the camera

Deciding on a career path wasn't straightforward and didn't come as naturally to me as it seemed to for others. If that sounds familiar, here are my 6 Things You Should Know When Considering an Apprenticeship:

1. Don't be afraid to try new things.

For me, an apprenticeship seemed like the best way to gain work experience and a qualification while also getting paid. So, I started an apprenticeship as a dental nurse. However, near the end, I realized I didn't want to pursue the career long-term. I completed the apprenticeship but decided to look for other opportunities in an area I was more interested in.

2. Follow your interests for a rewarding career.

Buildings and construction have always fascinated me. My dad is a quantity surveyor, so I already had some knowledge of the role and construction industry. I started talking to him more about his job and realized it was something I wanted to pursue.

I came across a quantity surveying apprenticeship with AtkinsRéalis, applied, and was fortunate to be offered the role. AtkinsRéalis helped me apply to Edinburgh Napier University for the Construction and Built Environment Graduate Apprenticeship course. I was accepted and began university in August 2021!

"I'm in my third year and love balancing work with university. It's great because what I learn at work directly helps with my coursework. It's like getting a head start on my studies!" -Mia Findlay, Apprentice Quantity Surveyor

3. You can choose a work/study rhythm that suits you.

My university course is a four-year program, and I attend university three times a year in two-week blocks. I prefer attending two weeks at a time rather than day-release, learning everything during this time, and completing my coursework before the next block. This approach gives me more time to focus on my studies without any work distractions for the two weeks. Then, I can return to working full-time onsite and in the office.

4. Value support and wellbeing? Not all employers are created equal.

The workload can sometimes feel a lot when balancing work and completing coursework on time. However, at AtkinsRéalis, I'm encouraged to look after my wellbeing and get the most out of my life, work, and study. Healthy workspaces, mental health first aiders, flexible working, and counseling-are all part of our inclusive culture.

Being surrounded by talented quantity surveyors in Project and Programme Services who can help when needed is a huge bonus. I also enjoy being part of the vibrant, diverse Young Professionals Network and wider teams at AtkinsRéalis. Not to mention attending university with many other construction students in the industry, such as architects, real estate surveyors, and building surveyors.

"It's been valuable connecting with peers on similar journeys and broadening my understanding of the industry's diverse disciplines." -Mia

5. You can speed up your career progression.

This year, I can begin my Assessment of Professional Competence (APC), completing the assessment after I graduate. Going through an apprenticeship will give me four years of work experience ahead of my APC. In contrast, a graduating, full-time university student taking the traditional route into the industry still has to do work experience before starting their APC.

In just two years since joining AtkinsRéalis, I've been exposed to pre- and post-contract projects-from housing to refurbishment, schools, nurseries, and office buildings. I've also experienced taking measurements using CostX, Bills of Quantities, valuations, tender reports, cost reports, and cost plans. I picked up most of these skills in my day-to-day work before we learned about them at university. It's made my coursework a little easier as I can apply my knowledge and experience from work to what I am learning in class.

"I'd advise anyone considering an apprenticeship to go down this route instead of full-time study as you gain work experience, which is valuable and really supports and enhances learning at university." -Mia

6. All AtkinsRéalis apprentices are permanently employed from day one!

Choosing an apprenticeship with AtkinsRéalis was the right decision for me. I have learned so much within my short time here and have been fortunate enough to be involved in so many projects and gain work experience while studying. I now feel secure in my career path and look forward to continuing to grow within the organization.

Our Apprenticeships are LIVE with excellent opportunities across the country! Tap here to find out more about becoming an apprentice with us.

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