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Millie Coombes, Apprentice, Atkins



Business area: Transportation
What qualification are you studying towards?: Degree Apprenticeship in Digital and Technology Solutions (Cyber Security) BSc

What came as the biggest surprise when you made the move from education to the world of work?

I remember when I first started my current job with Atkins and I thought that after doing my A-Levels and part time work that nothing else could be as demanding as that. At first the work days were very tiring. However they are only this way because of the rate I am learning in my new role. Within the first few months I adapted to this but the learning has never stopped and I know that it won’t in the future. This acquisition of knowledge means that I am getting a growing sense of contribution that I haven’t felt before and this means that my career feels very rewarding.

What social, society or CSR activities have you been involved with at Atkins?

Since joining Atkins I’ve been involved in the following:

  • The Industry Apprentice Council- a council supported by SEMTA which consists of around 20 apprentice representatives from various advanced manufacturing and engineering companies. Its main drive is helping to improve apprenticeships through a five point plan and trying to get the opinions of real apprentices through to the likes of Parliament to make some positive changes.
  • You’re Hired- this is an employability scheme run in my local city of Plymouth and was actually responsible for helping me get into the apprenticeship I am in now.
  • Women In STEM- I am currently the events coordinator for my local WISE hub in Plymouth. As part of this role I am responsible for the organisation of all networking events, workshops and lunch and learns that we hold for women in STEM or women who support STEM in the local area.

All of these activities are supported by Atkins and it is brilliant to feel like you are being supported to drive change and pursue your passions by the company you work for.

What advice would you give to someone considering applying for an apprenticeship?

Firstly, well done, there is a lot of communication out there that stigmatises the name of apprentices and can make people feel like they are only for those working in the crafts. This may have been the case 30 years ago, but is now changing rapidly. With the introduction of degree apprenticeships and the new apprenticeship levy, they are fast becoming a much more favourable choice. Since becoming an apprentice myself I have gained a much greater sense of achievement and contribution than I feel I would have had if I’d undertaken another route. I have two additional qualifications to my name, as well as a license and I am looking forward to being awarded my EngTech in the near future and getting started on a degree course. In engineering, experience is valued greatly and the knowledge you can get at a young age through an apprenticeship stands you in good stead for a brilliant career so I wouldn’t hesitate to click the apply button.

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