Meet Jess, engineering degree apprentice

Jess Stone, 23, is an undergraduate engineering apprentice with Airbus. She lives in Portishead, Bristol with her girlfriend, Alex. She will be supporting the Government’s Engineering: Take A Closer look campaign stand at World Skills Live Birmingham careers event in November.

Tell us about your job?

As an apprentice I study for a degree alongside working for Airbus, where I get to complete placements around the company and experience lots of jobs within engineering. 

When did you first realise that you wanted to be an engineer? 

As a child I loved taking things apart and trying to understand how things worked. I really enjoyed science at school, but my favourite subject was definitely design technology as I found problem solving and designing new products really interesting.

How did you go about following your dream?

At school I got involved with as many engineering trips and projects as possible. I still use some of the things I learnt and speak with the people I met through those trips and projects today. 

Why did you opt for an apprenticeship?

I’ve always been a hands-on learner and I learn best by having a go and doing it for myself, which is exactly what my apprenticeship enables me to do while giving me the academic challenge of university. My apprenticeship has enabled me to get a degree and four years’ of work experience at the same time to fast-track my career!

What support did you receive?

My mum was hugely supportive of my decision to join Airbus as an apprentice. Getting my degree paid for, gaining experience at a global company, and getting paid at the same time seemed almost too good to be true, and she could see what an amazing opportunity it was.
My school friends are often joke how envious they are of my position. They are graduating with a huge student debt and having to find their first jobs, while I have had my fees paid for and I’m doing something I love.

What do you love most about your job?

Many things, but the thing I love most is the problem solving. I get a huge sense of satisfaction when I come up with a solution to a problem that I’ve been working on for a while, especially when I remember that six million people fly on the planes we work on every day! 

What has been your proudest moment?

My proudest moment has been when I was awarded Make UK’s Outstanding Apprentice of the Year award. A contributing factor was the work I do with young people to help inspire the next generation of engineers. Encouraging more young people to consider STEM careers is something I’m really passionate about, and so being recognised for this was a big achievement for me!

If you were to give advice to someone unsure whether engineering is for them, what would you say?

Engineering is such a diverse field that there is definitely something for everyone! We work with cutting edge technologies that mean our jobs now are different from what they will be in 10 years.

Maths, Science, Design and Technology are some of the key foundations, so make sure you work hard in those subjects to keep your future options open!

Is engineering a diverse profession?

Engineering sometimes gets a bad reputation for not being a diverse industry but things are definitely changing. The job of an engineer is essentially to be a problem solver, and the more ideas we have to solve problems the better. So we need a wide range of people which means many companies are actively diversifying their workforce. Airbus has a huge range of people which help to make it a really interesting and dynamic place to work. 

What’s it like at Airbus?

Airbus offers lots of opportunities from playing in sports teams to teaching young children how to read. I particularly enjoy working with school students to help them explore Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths, and to show them what a great career engineering is!
I’m really excited to be attending World Skills Live this year; Airbus will be displaying our Bird of Prey which illustrates some of the exciting opportunities ahead of us in engineering. 

What are your career hopes for the future?

As is demonstrated by our Bird of Prey, we’re in a really exciting time for engineering as a whole. The development and introduction of new technologies, particularly in the digital field and relating to the way we work, means we have an opportunity to ‘re-engineer engineering’. I’m really looking forward to being a part of this change. 

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