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Meet Akram, a talented 20-year-old Degree Apprentice Quantity Surveyor from Middlesbrough. He is steering his career in the construction and engineering world with AtkinsRéalis. In this blog interview, he shares his insights and experience in design, engineering, and project management, highlighting the opportunities and challenges of his role. Join us as Akram shares his motivations for choosing this career path and his aspirations for the future within a leading project management organization.

Photo of Akram smiling towards the camera

Akram, what brought you to AtkinsRéalis, and what were you doing beforehand?

After completing my A-levels in 2022, I started my journey as a Degree Apprentice in the AtkinsRéalis Project and Programme Services team. I was drawn to quantity surveying and an apprenticeship due to the blend of practical, on-the-job training and theoretical knowledge gained through university studies. I had some work experience in the construction industry, and after some research and conversations with former colleagues, I decided a degree apprenticeship in engineering was for me.

What does a typical day involve?

No two days are the same, and I currently divide my time between a couple of different projects. One day, I could find myself behind the desk, assisting with project cost analysis, contract negotiation, or procurement strategy. The next day, I could be on-site valuing completed work, liaising with project teams, and monitoring progress. Every day is a new opportunity to learn and apply my knowledge in different environments.

Alongside my work, I attend the University College of Estate Management (UCEM) and spend a day a week studying.

What qualities and qualifications do you need to start an apprenticeship?

Strong interpersonal skills, creativity, an innovative approach to working, resilience, determination, and good teamwork skills. Qualities needed for quantity surveying might include commercial sense and broad knowledge of engineering, business, and legal matters, but these are developed throughout the apprenticeship.

Qualifications related to engineering, construction, or mathematics would be useful, but my apprenticeship has no specific requirements. I studied law, product design, and English for my A-levels.

What are the best things about the job?

AtkinsRéalis is involved in several significant global and local projects, such as Sizewell C and HS2, so I feel like I'm making a real, positive impact on the world. I also work on projects where Net Zero and sustainability are at the forefront of decision-making. Being exposed to different sectors, such as nuclear and rail, is rewarding and stimulating, allowing me to expand my learning, gain varied experiences, and apply theory to live projects.

And what are the most challenging

Being responsible for a project's commercial and legal matters can be challenging, even when assisting. But I'm constantly learning, have supportive colleagues and plenty of resources are provided by AtkinsRéalis, making all worthwhile. Going straight into work after Sixth Form was also a challenge, but the culture is enjoyable, and it didn't take me long to settle in.

Apprenticeships fell out of favor over the last 30 years, but now they are firmly back as a great way to launch a career. How do you feel about that change?

I'm glad there are increasingly positive connotations around apprenticeships—they are equally valuable as full-time university. Fortunately, my father, who also works in the industry, guided me and encouraged me to take this route. It's satisfying to study the theory and then apply it to live projects and learn from experienced professionals. Not having any university fees is also one less worry—you get to earn while you learn!

What would you say to someone reading our interview and considering an apprenticeship?

Take the next step and apply. Keep your options open, but if you have a goal in mind and are willing to put in the hard work, you won't regret enrolling in an apprenticeship.

What advice would you give to people who want to get an apprenticeship?

1. Select the career opportunity you want to pursue in the long run.
2. Once you know what you want to do, open yourself up to multiple opportunities.
3. Conduct extensive research on your preferred employer and utilize it in an interview.
4. Practice interview questions, be open and positive, and be yourself.

We're hiring: Find out more about becoming an AtkinsRéalis apprentice.