Dr. Raheel Nawaz, Director of Digital & Technology Solutions, talks to two of his recent Degree Apprenticeship Graduates about their experience at Manchester Metropolitan University, and what the future holds for them. Jessica Wong and Nadia Johnson were both employed by Thales during their degree apprenticeship.
Why did you decide to do a degree apprenticeship?
Nadia Johnson, Apprentice Software Engineer: I come from an engineering family background and so engineering was something I’ve always been interested in and wanted to go into. Speaking with family I knew a lot of the engineering learning came from doing the job so being able to work alongside studying was definitely the best option!
Jessica Wong, Apprentice Software Engineer: I was in the middle of applying for university when I saw the degree apprenticeship vacancy and it seemed like such a great opportunity. When I got the offer, I cancelled my UCAS university applications.
How did you find the degree apprenticeship versus what you may have experienced at University?
Nadia: It’s been great to have the time at university to mix with people from other companies to find out best practices and different ways of working. By doing a degree apprenticeship rather than full time university, I was able to move into my own place straight away and keep up with paying for my mountain biking hobby.
Jessica: I didn’t feel like I missed out on the university lifestyle as there were a lot of young professionals at work I could socialise with.
What was your favourite experience during your degree apprenticeship?
Nadia: Over the past year and a half Jessica and I have been spending time creating our own STEM campaign. We had our launch event at the IET, Savoy Place London, for Ada Lovelace Live. It was fantastic to see that all of our hard work had paid off and the feedback from the guests was super positive. This was definitely one of my favourite experiences!
Jessica: This year we had the privilege of being invited to the Thales event at the House of Commons to celebrate the launch of the Economic Report, which we are part of. We met various members of Thales senior management and MPs, where we had very casual conversations and knowledge sharing. We were offered a tour of the rest of the building which was really interesting and humbling.
Tell us about the outreach work you’ve done recently
Jessica: We’re both interested in STEM and saw a bit of a gap in the market. There are a lot of children watching YouTube videos but there weren’t any suitable ones for engineering or science.
Nadia: We created some YouTube videos to take into schools, showing things like “A day in the life”, some “How To” videos as well as interviews with other professionals within the engineering industry. We also created some project packs where children could self-learn or learn alongside parents, depending on the pack chosen. This meant teachers didn’t need to always be present or have any specialised training.
Jessica: As well, since these were all free, it was a great opportunity for a lot of school kids to access them where they might not have been able to if they were paid for.
What help have you received from your employer Thales?
Jessica: Thales have been great, they provided us with sponsorship, power equipment, posters and the materials we needed to make this happen.
Nadia: Manchester Met also provided some backdrops and branding we were able to use in our videos as well as advice and guidance on the copyright for the project itself.
What’s next for you two?
Nadia: We’ve already done a launch event at the IET Ada Lovelace Day event which was a great success. We were invited to have a stall down in their London event and showcased the campaign concept, receiving lots of positive interest and feedback from IET members of all backgrounds. It was great to see how our campaign fits within all industries that utilise engineering skillsets.
Jessica: We’ve just both graduated with a 1st Class Honours Degree Apprenticeship from Manchester Metropolitan University which we’re ecstatic about. For me, my focus now will be on forming long-term career plans to shape my professional path. I also want to develop my technical skills and work towards certifications to progress myself.
Nadia: I’ll be looking to enhance and develop my technical skills in the hope of broadening my skill set across multiple technologies. I will also continue to build on the leadership training that Thales provided me with to grow my skills in this area even further
What we offer:
Manchester Metropolitan offer a number of degree apprenticeships, including: