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Homepage / My Apprenticeship Journey – Broadening Horizons

My Apprenticeship Journey – Broadening Horizons


Laura, Senior Systems Engineer at a leading aircraft manufacturing company, joined Cranfield on the Systems Engineering Master’s Apprenticeship after initially considering taking a year off from her role to complete an MSc.

Apprenticeship over MSc?

“I started talking to my line manager about what my options would be to return to the company after my studies,” she remembers. “They suggested I look at doing a master ’s-level apprenticeship, which the company could pay for and which would enable me to stay in my job, progress in that, and study at the same time – gaining the best of both worlds.”

“I found the course quite difficult at the time, but overall I am glad I did it,” she said. “I’ve been able to progress in my career at the same time as fulfilling a personal ambition, without having to take a year out and potentially find I wasn’t able to come back to the company.”

Achievements and Challenges of an Apprenticeship

“The course covered a wide range of topics, and I found the workshops particularly useful, working through examples to understand how to apply systems engineering in practice.

“I gained a better understanding of the wider context behind the work we do, and I’ve been able to pass that on to members of my team to help them in their development.

“I had to juggle work and study around various life events like moving house and getting married – and I got promoted to team leader midway through so I had more responsibility at work too – but I managed and overall I’m glad I did it.

“In time, I’m hoping to get chartered to help me progress even further in my career, and having done the apprenticeship will really help with that.”

Laura’s advice to her peers

“I think they need to make sure they’re committed and really want to do it,” she says. “It is a lot of work, and you don’t want to end up putting lots of time into it without getting to the end result. Make sure you’re absolutely sure from the outset, because if you’re doing it over three years it does end up feeling like quite a long time when you’re working at the same time.

“Make sure you’re fully aware of what the course entails. Look into the modules, break it down as much as possible, and weigh up the benefits of doing it against not doing it so you’re really clear on the ‘why’.

“Once you’ve decided that you definitely want to do an apprenticeship and you’ve got your place, make sure you set things up from the start by putting aside regular time to work on it and planning out what you’re going to do for the off-the-job training element. Set up a proactive meeting with the apprenticeship team to ensure your plans are going to fulfil the requirements, and check back regularly to ensure you’re staying on track.

“It’s also good to have a plan for how you are going to balance your home life with the combination of work and study, because if you don’t keep on top of it and plan your time effectively it can quickly start to feel quite overwhelming with a lot going on.”

Learn more about our apprenticeships

Cranfield University

Written By: Cormac Mcmanus

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