My Journey Through The Tech Galaxy: An Apprenticeship at BAE Systems!
Publish Date: 2023-11-28
How did you find out about BAE Systems?
STEM ambassadors from BAE Systems had visited our high school to encourage more students to consider careers in the engineering and aerospace industries. It was a great opportunity to learn more about what the business does and what it's like as an apprentice or graduate working there. I had no idea how many different apprenticeship schemes were available (supply chain, finance, engineering, etc.), and it was only after I attended an open event later on that I realised a degree apprenticeship, as opposed to university, might be for me.
In year 13, was an apprenticeship always what you wanted to do? Or were you thinking about university?
The pressure on young people to find and choose a career path these days is immense. In Year 12, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do in the future, and with personal statement deadlines approaching, time was ticking. I began to attend Young Professional's virtual work experience and insight events to help me better understand the different industries and careers out there. YP had plenty to choose from, such as Law, Banking, Accounting, and Engineering. I noticed that the "early careers" section of each webinar would focus not only on graduates but apprentices too. My college had been geared towards helping students apply to universities, but luckily, they did provide information on what an apprenticeship is and its application process. Surviving A-levels during the pandemic was difficult, and I realised that hybrid learning at university wasn’t for me. I wanted a challenge and to try something new. After weighing the pros and cons of university vs a degree apprenticeship, I chose the latter and began signing up for email alerts for application open dates.
How did you find the application process? Were there any assessment centres you had to go to?
BAE is currently hiring! If you’re interested in Intermediate, Advanced, Higher or Degree apprenticeships, applications are open until February. To find out more about the application process, feel free to use the link below: https://www.baesystems.com/en/careers/careers-in-the-uk/application-process
Did you start your apprenticeship immediately after year 13? Or did you take a gap year etc.
I chose to start my apprenticeship after finishing college purely because we weren’t sure how long the pandemic would last, and opportunities to travel or work part-time were limited.
How have you found the programme so far? Have you enjoyed it?
It’s astonishing how much (and how fast) you learn when you’re in a real working environment. Once I received my induction, I was placed in a team and began training, meeting my new colleagues, and getting stuck in. Attending university and working at the time has helped me to develop my time management skills, especially when prioritising university assignments and work deadlines. I've already learned so much about the business, its vibrant history, and I look forward to continuing my journey to become a fully-fledged Project Controller.
What has been the best parts about the apprenticeship?
Because BAE Systems is a global company, I have been very fortunate to be given opportunities to travel, learn more about different sectors of the business, and to showcase lessons learned from conferences to which I've been invited. Financial independence doesn’t seem so far off when you receive both a wage and a qualification; it means I’m not as worried about what the future holds.
Do you feel like you are "missing out” on the university experience?
No, I don’t think so. We still attend university, and I think I'm quite lucky that there are so many apprentices and graduates at BAE Systems (currently around 4,000). I'm constantly meeting new people from different sites and backgrounds. There have already been quite a few socials, so entering the workplace isn't daunting when a lot of new starters are the same age as you.
Have you made any new friends at BAE Systems?
Yes definitely! In fact, I'd say I've met more people than I ever would have at university. We often go out for lunch or have a 'Jacob's Join' as well. I've recently switched placements and already miss those I've worked with in the past year.
What does a day in the life of a BAE Systems apprentice look like?
I know it's a cliché, but every day is different for me! While I'm no longer considered a 'new starter', I'm still learning so much regarding my responsibilities as a project control professional and how my work impacts the wider business. My apprenticeship scheme is five years long, and I attend university to study for my degree (BSc Project Controls). Project controllers monitor, report and challenge several constraints in a project, such as quality, risk, the schedule, budget and our stakeholders. We seek to understand project performance, analyse trends, explore and mitigate issues, to ensure a project is delivered on time and on budget. I have the opportunity to work with a variety of customers, projects and programmes, and switch placements every year. Everyone, regardless of seniority, is always willing to impart subject knowledge or advice, which is exactly what you need to thrive in a positive working environment. If you're interested in finding out more about what it's like at BAE Systems, I'd suggest reading our employee stories below:
Is the apprenticeship what you thought it would be?
When I was younger, I thought an apprenticeship would be quite basic: shadowing, admin work, perhaps a presentation. In reality, you're treated like a normal employee, just with lots of guidance and support. This allows you to take on tasks at your own pace, explore opportunities, and develop hard and soft skills simultaneously.
Would you recommend this programme to current students?
100% yes! BAE is currently hiring! If you’re interested in Intermediate, Advanced, Higher or Degree apprenticeships, applications are open until February. To find out more about the application process, feel free to use the link below: https://www.baesystems.com/en/careers/careers-in-the-uk/application-process
What are the three most important skills needed to be an apprentice?
Willingness to learn - Apprenticeships are all about trying new things and developing skills to become a fully qualified professional, so don’t be afraid to ask questions and look out for new opportunities.
Resilience – In your first year, you may find it hard to balance work with university, and it takes time. Making sure you keep ahead of any deadlines (don’t leave it to the last minute!) is essential. You should always reach out, however, if you’re struggling; there will always be support, either from early careers or the university, to help
Courage – Walking through the revolving doors on your first day, meeting your new manager, leading your first presentation… all of these things can be incredibly daunting if you’ve never been in a workplace environment. It’s okay to make mistakes or not know the answer to something on the first try. An apprenticeship gives you the chance to learn and develop as an individual – you just need to make the leap.
If you have any further questions on apprenticeships, feel free to reach out or connect, and I’ll be happy to help!
Good luck to you, future applicants!