Sam is an apprentice in Ordnance Munitions and Explosives at Cranfield Ordnance Test and Evaluation Centre. To mark the UK Government’s National Apprenticeship Week 2021, we caught up with him to find out more about his experience of life as an apprentice.

Why did you choose an apprenticeship? 

An apprenticeship had many things going for it. I have always enjoyed and done better in academia when there was a practical element to the learning. An apprenticeship offers a unique ability to put all the theory you learn into practice as you are learning it. Apprenticeships also give you the ability to integrate yourself into industry and the work environment much earlier which builds a professional reputation from day one. 

What do you see as the main benefits of doing an apprenticeship? Has that changed since you started? 

I saw many benefits for doing an apprenticeship. The main ones for me though were getting work experience whilst being paid to get a degree. You can gain experience in the business environment as well which develops a very different skill than would ordinarily be developed after completion of a qualification. Apprenticeships also have the major benefit of connecting you to subject matter experts and a wealth of experience in whatever sector you choose to go into which, I believe, helps with the learning process.    

How are you or how do you plan to achieve your career goals? 

An apprenticeship is a great way to start on the process of fulfilling your career aspirations. For me, it will help with this because you are able to network within the industry, and if nothing else, it gets your name known from very early on. My apprenticeship will also open up further options such as studying for a Masters and even PhD. This gives such a broad scope of career opportunities both within Cranfield and outside in wider industries.  

Would you recommend it to others? 

I think, if you have a genuine interest in the subject area or the business that sponsor you through the apprenticeship, there is nothing like the learning experience of an apprenticeship. I would implore people to investigate an apprenticeship as an alternative way to gain a qualification. It is such a rewarding way to do it. 

What did people around you (family/friends) think of your decision to become an apprentice? 

When I told people about my decision to become an apprentice, I was met with overwhelming support from my family and friends. They could all see the major benefits of getting a degree this way. Some of them even said that they wished they had got their qualification this way! 

How is the support from Cranfield and your manager? 

The support from my line manager, Trevor Lawrence, Director of Operations for COTEC, has always been amazing. He has been very supportive of my journey so far and I can ask him anything and he will go above and beyond to find the answers. I can also raise any issues I might have, and Trevor will deal with them quickly and make sure they are resolved. Likewise, the information and assistance I have received from Cranfield has been amazing. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Trevor and the rest of Cranfield for helping me along this journey. 

Anything else you’d like to add? 

The final bit of advice I would like to give people thinking about an apprenticeship, is just to research the course, skills that you might gain and the company you want to join thoroughly. The only negative thing that I have come across is that I don’t get the full “university experience” but I believe that the benefits severely outweigh the drawbacks, especially due to the people I work with.

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