This National Apprenticeship Week (#NAW2020), we catch up with Elliott Webb from Arup and Willow-Athena Hempell of WSP, apprentice winners at last year's Consultancy and Engineering Awards.
The Awards celebrate the outstanding achievements of our industry and champion the best people, initiatives and companies from the world of engineering and consultancy. We interviewed both of them to see how they are getting on with their apprenticeships, and to see if they had any advice for those considering them as a career option.
How did you feel winning the Consultancy and Engineering Awards 2019?
Elliott: It didn’t feel real at the time. I remember hearing my name being announced at the awards and thinking who’s that? It wasn’t until my director was ushering me up to the stage that I realised I had won Apprentice of the Year. I couldn’t help but smile, that feeling of knowing that all your efforts to date have been so highly regarded by your peers is a feeling I will never forget. It’s amazing seeing all your hard work come to fruition right in front of your eyes, I hope that everyone in our industry is able to have moments like these within their career.
Willow-Athena: I feel incredibly honoured to receive such an award, there was such a vast array of highly skilled apprentices nominated, for me being highly commended really meant a lot.
What do you most enjoy about your apprenticeship?
Elliott: The most enjoyable aspect is the variety of work you are able to get involved with. I have been lucky enough in my career to have such a broad range of experience already, this is something which would be impossible to gain if I had chosen to study at university full time. To be able to say by the age of 21 that I have designed roads on one of Europe’s largest projects, been an assistant project manager on a multi-million pound programme, organised and carried out a series of high-speed road inspections, is something I am massively proud of. No two days are the same when you are working within engineering. This makes coming to work so refreshing as you are always looking to push the project on.
Another brilliant part of my apprenticeship is knowing that when you come to work you have the chance to make a difference. As engineers we have an opportunity to help shape a better world.
Willow-Athena: There are so many things that it is hard to pick just one – so I’ll pick two to be difficult instead! The people and the projects, the two P’s that make everything about my job so much fun and such an enjoyable job to do. The opportunities are probably my favourite thing, there are just so many pathways to developing your skills in your early career. This has allowed me to delve deep into learning about aspects of my job that interest me while supporting the overall team as well. To work with top industry professionals, especially in a somewhat niche discipline, wastewater, is beyond amazing to me and to have such a diverse team with skills and knowledge helps you tailor what kind of professional you chose to be!
What would be your advice to anyone considering an apprenticeship?
Elliott: Remember that companies are not looking for the finished product when you apply for an apprenticeship. They are looking to see if you have the willingness and motivation to learn. It is always a good idea to research the company you are applying for, then in your application highlight some of the work they have done or mention how the company aims or values align to those of your own. I cannot recommend an apprenticeship enough, the experience you can gain in a short time is unparalleled and you also get to work towards globally recognised qualifications.
Willow-Athena: If you see a job that you are interested in that offers an apprenticeship, go for it! Apprenticeships help, not only streamline your early career and further education, but you to become a well-rounded individual in a discipline you love. It is honestly the best thing I ever did!