Charlie Rey-Padgett is an Apprentice Engineer with WSP, a civil engineering consultancy company in Cambridge.
What apprenticeship are you currently doing?
I am currently an Apprentice Engineer. I study one day a week at a local college specifically designed for engineering courses and the other four days I spend working full time. I started this job in September 2018 and I am due to finish in a year.
My job mainly consists of designing and drawing bridges on computer software for clients. The drawings I design can range from preliminary design to making only small changes. I love how varied this job can be as no project is the same.
Why did you decide to apply for an apprenticeship?
I chose to go into an apprenticeship rather university as the opportunity to earn whilst I learnt was so appealing. To know in years to come that I’ll be qualified with a career for life is so satisfactory. I never really knew much about apprenticeships – it was my father who gave me the idea of going into full-time work.
I would say that student debt was a massive push factor for me when choosing to go into an apprenticeship. When my friends are out of university, I will be just as qualified as them in terms of academics, and I won’t have to ever worry about paying off any student loans! I came to this decision when I was at sixth form where I studied business, history and psychology.
Why did you choose WSP?
I did all my research on apprenticeships myself. I came across WSP just through a simple online search. I knew engineering was a potential for me and seeing what WSP had to offer greatly enticed me.
When trying to decide on what apprenticeships to go for, I had to focus on long-term. It’s not always about the money you’re earning now or what job title you have now is and that was a huge misconception for me. I had to stop and think ‘where will I be in 5 years’ time?’ and my future career prospects. I therefore chose WSP because my prospects were amazing, and they really aim to support your growth.
Were you encouraged to consider an apprenticeship by anyone and did you receive any help in making your application?
My parents were very supportive of me choosing an apprenticeship, but ultimately the decision was down to me. I did all my applications by myself. I was left to my own devices in terms of help from my school as the focus was mainly on university applicants.
What was the process of obtaining an apprenticeship?
If you have the right support and help, the apprenticeship process can be made easier. I would be lying if I said there weren’t tears throughout my process. Big companies can often take a while to get back to you, so I did get disheartened.
The competition can be huge but if you make sure to do the right research and know your stuff it’ll really help. I had contact with my company for months throughout the recruitment process. I started applying for apprenticeships in January and obtained this one in May so it’s always best to start sooner rather than later.
Can you describe a typical day in your apprenticeship?
Studying one day a week at college is a nice break from the office and it’s fascinating to learn more background knowledge about the construction industry and then being able to apply that very knowledge to my work.
I get to design and work on different projects all day every day, so I never get bored! I work in a big office and we are separated into departments, but everyone intertwines as there are loads of aspects that all fit into one specific project, which is great as I get to work with different people all the time.
What have you got from your apprenticeship that you want to share with others who might be considering one?
I’ve always been someone who loves a challenge and likes being kept on my toes and this apprenticeship really is the best thing for me. I’ve been able to put my creativity to use and learn how to think outside the box. If you’re like me and you’re ‘hands-on’ but also a keen learner, apprenticeships really do give you such an amazing opportunity to put those skills to use.
I chose to become an Apprentice Ambassador as I really want to show people that there are apprenticeships out there that you’ve never even thought about. They’re such an exciting opportunity and I want to share my exciting experience with others. There’s a huge misconception around apprenticeships and I want to be able to change people’s minds and show them that apprenticeships are for everyone.