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Insights What you need to do to start your career straight away.

Meet Rowena, a third-year Degree Apprentice Consultant, two years into her BSc Project Management Degree. Rowena joined Atkins, a member of the AtkinsRéalis Group, virtually in January 2021, and she has worked across numerous projects and internal initiatives to date.

"I wanted to start earning money and gaining real-life work experience, and an apprenticeship seemed the perfect solution. At Atkins, I could work towards my degree in a corporate environment, earn a healthy salary and get a jump start in my career by starting straight away."

Rowena, what do you do as an apprentice at Atkins?

I'm a change consultant on a government project, where I collate and review role data across all services. It's an agile project requiring me to work closely with the client and end users to deliver effective and sustainable results. This consulting approach has developed my client management skills and collaborative problem-solving skills. It has shown me how important clear client communication is in maximizing the best outputs for my team and the client.

Why did you choose an Atkins apprenticeship?

Like many people my age, I didn't feel like the traditional route of going to university suited me. I knew I wanted to start earning money and gaining real-life experience in the workplace. Therefore, an apprenticeship seemed like the perfect solution. After researching many apprenticeship schemes, Atkins' seemed to meet all my needs. I could work towards my degree in a corporate environment, earn a healthy salary and get a jump start in my career by starting straight away.

One of the main benefits of joining an apprenticeship scheme is that I could work with other young people in the same situation as me. We all understand what it's like to be young, living in the city and working full time, all while completing a degree. This sense of community has been a lifeline, as apprenticeships aren't as common as going to university, it's great to have a strong support network of friends and colleagues working on the same path in life that I am.

Why does Atkins value apprentices as key team members?

Being a young professional gives us an edge as we can bring current life experiences, knowledge and viewpoints to projects that otherwise wouldn't have been factored in, all paird with a general enthusiasm and passion to progresss and develop as much as we can.

Due to being early in our careers, by our second or third apprenticeship year, most apprentices would've completed numerous university modules on finance, risk management and business cases, to name a few. This knowledge is front and centre of our brains, ready to be called on in any project scenario, especially in end-of-phase report writing.

Many of us have also been involved in a huge variety of roles very quickly in our careers. I have worked on many, from interim contractor management to managing the finances of a project and running volunteering events. By understanding many facets of the business, I can bring new insights and experiences to every new project I start.

In what ways have you been recognized and celebrated?

For the last year and a half, I've also been the volunteering coordinator for the young professionals (YPs) within Aerospace, Defence, Security & Technology (ADS&T). In this role, I encouraged YPs to use their two volunteering days a year to give back to their community. I organized numerous events across Bristol and London, including beach cleans, Holiday Donation drives and gardening at a local youth centre.

At the end of last year, my volunteering co-lead and I were very fortunate to be nominated and then go on to win the ADS&T-wide awards for outstanding contributions to company initiatives. We were recognized for our hard work in encouraging staff to seek wider opportunities that would support the organization's social value initiatives. This was an outstanding achievement and finale to the end of the role, and I am very proud.

Photo of Roweena smiling towards the camera with her volunteer team

You are growing an incredible career. How are you giving back?

Recently I've taken on a new role as the Apprentice Lead for the Young Professional Forum (YPF). This is a team of young professionals (YPs) within ADS&T that organizes and runs events, meetings and opportunities to support the development of YPs. The YPF creates links to key markets within the business, provides opportunities to network and socialize within the YP community and with wider stakeholders and runs events to promote mental health, well-being and volunteering.

I sit on the operational team in this new role, ensuring apprentices are represented within the forum. As the YPF Leads, we oversee all the fantastic work the forum members do, guiding and supporting them to create a well-curated environment to support the development of our YPs.

Photo of Roweena smiling towards the camera with her volunteer team

Which apprenticeship stereotype is your greatest bugbear, and how are you smashing it?

There is a big misconception that all apprentices are very young and inexperienced. However, this often is not the case. Many are aged 18 to 25 when starting their apprenticeships and have had other jobs and life experiences up until joining an apprenticeship scheme. I try to break down this stereotype by explaining that all apprentices don't fit into one box. The beauty of an apprenticeship programme is that it's a culmination of many different ages, backgrounds and experiences, which creates a diverse group of young professionals ready to learn more and teach their peers and seniors.

What do you do when you aren't engineering a better future?

Outside of work, I love anything creative, from painting, collaging and sculpting to sewing, crocheting and jewellery making. I have always enjoyed sitting down to focus on creating something, and hours can pass by without me even noticing. Besides this, I love getting out and going for walks in nature, and I especially love trips to local charity shops. I love to search for clothes and oddities that are of interest that I can keep as they are or upcycle!

Learn from the best minds, working on the most exciting projects for the most prestigious companies: Apply for an Atkins Apprenticeship