Ask about Engineering Apprenticeships

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Hoc est Bellum
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(Original post by Isaacsayers)
Have an offer from heriot watt, I just applied to give myself more options. I Found a civil engineering graduate apprenticeship in Edinburgh, which I’m waiting to hear back from so I’m going to try and get that apprenticeship, just thinking about how much work it will involve. If I didn’t get that apprenticeship I feel studying a hnc/hnd in civil engineering at Edinburgh college would be an alright back up (while still trying to get the apprenticeship) as it only increases my chances of getting one, but also If I choose to do uni I could just enter year 2 or 3 of my degree.
To answer the work that it will involve first, I would say that it is a lot of work - a 40 hour week plus revision (some companies may give you time at work to revise so this may not be a problem). It does require a lot more than uni but it sure pays off.

To answer the second question about entering further in, this really depends on the employer, I can't see why they would make you redo years that have already been completed; in my company, people that already had done the qualifications or some modules of that qualification were not made to redo it.
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Hoc est Bellum
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(Original post by Isaacsayers)
Have an offer from heriot watt, I just applied to give myself more options. I Found a civil engineering graduate apprenticeship in Edinburgh, which I’m waiting to hear back from so I’m going to try and get that apprenticeship, just thinking about how much work it will involve. If I didn’t get that apprenticeship I feel studying a hnc/hnd in civil engineering at Edinburgh college would be an alright back up (while still trying to get the apprenticeship) as it only increases my chances of getting one, but also If I choose to do uni I could just enter year 2 or 3 of my degree.
An an apprentice, it will be a lot more work than college/uni is. It will essentially be Uni in one day and the rest of the working week will be a full time job (some jobs will give you an additional day/amount of time to revise/study/do assignments in work time - this is definitely something to ask about in an interview). Yes a hnc/hnd would be a good backup, good luck!
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zootzoot
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(Original post by Hoc est Bellum)
An an apprentice, it will be a lot more work than college/uni is. It will essentially be Uni in one day and the rest of the working week will be a full time job (some jobs will give you an additional day/amount of time to revise/study/do assignments in work time - this is definitely something to ask about in an interview). Yes a hnc/hnd would be a good backup, good luck!
Hi,

Im looking into degree apprenticeships for mechanical engineering and I'd like to ask:
1) How competitive is it to get into a degree apprenticeship at a company (like BAE or Rolls Royce), compared to their graduate schemes (After uni)
2) Do you think it will be more difficult changing which engineering sector you work in after you have finished, compared to after graduating from uni (E.g. Doing an apprenticeship at an aerospace firm but afterwards wanting to work in automotive or defence ect)

Many thanks
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Hoc est Bellum
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(Original post by zootzoot)
Hi,

Im looking into degree apprenticeships for mechanical engineering and I'd like to ask:
1) How competitive is it to get into a degree apprenticeship at a company (like BAE or Rolls Royce), compared to their graduate schemes (After uni)
2) Do you think it will be more difficult changing which engineering sector you work in after you have finished, compared to after graduating from uni (E.g. Doing an apprenticeship at an aerospace firm but afterwards wanting to work in automotive or defence ect)

Many thanks
Firstly, BAE and rolls Royce are really competitive programs, particularly at degree level, you'll be looking at about 200+ applications per position probably even more than that. This is however not as competitive as grad schemes, bae and rolls Royce are some of the top schemes and with so many unemployed grads, lots of people will apply for these types of things.

It is not challenging to switch sectors, you will have an engineering degree plus engineering experience which is very highly sought after by employers. However, it can hurt your chances if you do it too often as employers may think you are going to leave after a few years (which is surprisingly common amoungst grads and apprentices.
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username5225164
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(Original post by Hoc est Bellum)
Hi Everyone, I began my apprenticeship in September 2018 and I am happy to answer any questions you may have if you are unsure or are just curious.
Following this thread, I'm a Civil Engineering Degree Apprentice and have been working in the industry since September 2017. Happy to answer any civil engineering questions people may have too!
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burntspark
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Hey, I am looking to apply to degree apprenticeships next year (for 2021 intake), I have some questions.
What sort of tasks do you complete at work?
Is a degree apprenticeship considered a 'part time' university course?
Is completing university work difficult as you have to work a job too?
Do you need good predicted A-Level grades?

Otherwise my main problem is actually securing a position. I don't want to go to university so I really want a degree apprenticeship, but I am really scared that I won't get a position because they are so competitive.
Is it actually really hard to be accepted by a good company? eg. BT, Caterpillar, Thales
Is there anything I can do to make my applications better/ stand out? (any skills/ interests/ projects I can show)

Any help is much appreciated.
Thanks
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username5225164
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(Original post by burntspark)
Hey, I am looking to apply to degree apprenticeships next year (for 2021 intake), I have some questions.
What sort of tasks do you complete at work?
Is a degree apprenticeship considered a 'part time' university course?
Is completing university work difficult as you have to work a job too?
Do you need good predicted A-Level grades?

Otherwise my main problem is actually securing a position. I don't want to go to university so I really want a degree apprenticeship, but I am really scared that I won't get a position because they are so competitive.
Is it actually really hard to be accepted by a good company? eg. BT, Caterpillar, Thales
Is there anything I can do to make my applications better/ stand out? (any skills/ interests/ projects I can show)

Any help is much appreciated.
Thanks
Hey, what industry is it you're looking to go into?

I'm a Civil Engineering degree apprentice. I'll start off by answering your first few questions:

What sort of tasks? - This depends on your apprenticeship/employer, but my company basically throw you straight into project work. Of course your first few months will be learning the ropes, but as you're training most generally want you to be doing work that is valuable to the business, whether it's project work/admin/assistance. Usually this is outlined on the advertisement. One thing I will say, though, is an apprentice doesn't mean you're making cups of tea for everyone! You are generally thrown straight in to get the best out of you

Is it a part-time course? - Yes, one day a week is scheduled; you'll be put into classes with other people on the part time course, but not everyone in the room will necessarily be a part time student. You don't really notice that though

Is it difficult? - If you set yourself a proper routine and make sure you're balancing everything efficiently, you'll be fine. Your employer shouldn't be putting too much pressure on you at work to the point that you feel you can't do your uni work. It's in their best interest that you get the best out of your course. Organisation from the start is key, it'll be difficult for the first few months but once you've gotten into it you'll find your rhythm.

A-Levels - depends on the employer. Some will look solely at grades but others will be more lenient. It's best to be honest with your grades, and if you happen to have low predicted grades get brought to interview it means they like you as a person and want to learn more about you. Of course, higher grades are more favourable however if employers feel like there is an academically weaker candidate that will fit into the company better and make the best of the situation, grades may be irrelevant. Edit: I'd look into the grade requirements of the university course provider if you're concerned about your A-levels too.

In terms of being worried - If you go into it thinking that your entire career depends on it you're only going to make yourself more nervous, and potentially less favourable. It's best to just be open minded, apply for as many companies as possible and do your research on those companies. If you get brought to interview/assessment, great, go into them confident in yourself as a person and just be yourself. Take the thought of your future depending on it out of your mind, and just enjoy the interview/assessment day. There's no need to be scared, as you build experience you'll become more confident, and if you end up with no place anywhere there are always options that come up throughout the academic year. Its best to broaden your options than to be narrow-minded and head straight for the 'best' firms. There are plenty of smaller firms offering apprenticeships that are just as good, and probably less competitive.

I don't think anyone can answer if it's hard to be accepted by a really good company. There are so many variables i.e. number of applicants, number of vacancies, abilities of applicants, whether you're suitable for the job, whether people are genuinely interested or applying as a back-up option. The larger/better companies may have longer processes, such as telephone interviews before an assessment day, all prior to an initial interview and maybe even a second interview. However, it is obvious that the further you get through those processes the more of a chance you have, just be open minded about it.

A lot of companies want to know that you're able to work independently but also as a team, any hobbies or interests that you have that may reflect that could be useful. If you have no team-based hobbies, reflect on times where you've had to work as a team through your academic years. Try to be concise, but also engaging in your applications - you don't want to write such a small amount that it looks like you're uninterested. You want to come across as enthusiastic, but don't go throwing in random curveballs of facts that you just found off of a quick google search. Most importantly, be as true to yourself as you can. You don't want to have blanket answers to application questions that anybody else can come up with. What do YOU really think, and what kind of impact do you want to have?

Hopefully this helps, if you need me to clarify anything let me know
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burntspark
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(Original post by smartince98)
Hey, what industry is it you're looking to go into?

I'm a Civil Engineering degree apprentice. I'll start off by answering your first few questions:

What sort of tasks? - This depends on your apprenticeship/employer, but my company basically throw you straight into project work. Of course your first few months will be learning the ropes, but as you're training most generally want you to be doing work that is valuable to the business, whether it's project work/admin/assistance. Usually this is outlined on the advertisement. One thing I will say, though, is an apprentice doesn't mean you're making cups of tea for everyone! You are generally thrown straight in to get the best out of you

Is it a part-time course? - Yes, one day a week is scheduled; you'll be put into classes with other people on the part time course, but not everyone in the room will necessarily be a part time student. You don't really notice that though

Is it difficult? - If you set yourself a proper routine and make sure you're balancing everything efficiently, you'll be fine. Your employer shouldn't be putting too much pressure on you at work to the point that you feel you can't do your uni work. It's in their best interest that you get the best out of your course. Organisation from the start is key, it'll be difficult for the first few months but once you've gotten into it you'll find your rhythm.

A-Levels - depends on the employer. Some will look solely at grades but others will be more lenient. It's best to be honest with your grades, and if you happen to have low predicted grades get brought to interview it means they like you as a person and want to learn more about you. Of course, higher grades are more favourable however if employers feel like there is an academically weaker candidate that will fit into the company better and make the best of the situation, grades may be irrelevant.

In terms of being worried - If you go into it thinking that your entire career depends on it you're only going to make yourself more nervous, and potentially less favourable. It's best to just be open minded, apply for as many companies as possible and do your research on those companies. If you get brought to interview/assessment, great, go into them confident in yourself as a person and just be yourself. Take the thought of your future depending on it out of your mind, and just enjoy the interview/assessment day. There's no need to be scared, as you build experience you'll become more confident, and if you end up with no place anywhere there are always options that come up throughout the academic year. Its best to broaden your options than to be narrow-minded and head straight for the 'best' firms. There are plenty of smaller firms offering apprenticeships that are just as good, and probably less competitive.

I don't think anyone can answer if it's hard to be accepted by a really good company. There are so many variables i.e. number of applicants, number of vacancies, abilities of applicants, whether you're suitable for the job, whether people are genuinely interested or applying as a back-up option. The larger/better companies may have longer processes, such as telephone interviews before an assessment day, all prior to an initial interview and maybe even a second interview. However, it is obvious that the further you get through those processes the more of a chance you have, just be open minded about it.

A lot of companies want to know that you're able to work independently but also as a team, any hobbies or interests that you have that may reflect that could be useful. If you have no team-based hobbies, reflect on times where you've had to work as a team through your academic years. Try to be concise, but also engaging in your applications - you don't want to write such a small amount that it looks like you're uninterested. You want to come across as enthusiastic, but don't go throwing in random curveballs of facts that you just found off of a quick google search. Most importantly, be as true to yourself as you can. You don't want to have blanket answers to application questions that anybody else can come up with. What do YOU really think, and what kind of impact do you want to have?

Hopefully this helps, if you need me to clarify anything let me know
Thanks for this!!!! Very informative I should have mentioned, I am looking to go into engineering- civil, electronic, mechanical , network etc, wouldn't mind construction either. I did have some work experience organised, in light of the current situation these have been cancelled. Do you think there will be more leniency with this when applying bearing in mind the situation?
Also, can you remember roughly how many positions you applied for before you got accepted? I am looking to apply for as many as possible 25-30+.
Sorry for all the questions, just trying to get as much advice as possible so my applications can be more successful.

Thanks so much
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username5225164
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(Original post by burntspark)
Thanks for this!!!! Very informative I should have mentioned, I am looking to go into engineering- civil, electronic, mechanical , network etc, wouldn't mind construction either. I did have some work experience organised, in light of the current situation these have been cancelled. Do you think there will be more leniency with this when applying bearing in mind the situation?
Also, can you remember roughly how many positions you applied for before you got accepted? I am looking to apply for as many as possible 25-30+.
Sorry for all the questions, just trying to get as much advice as possible so my applications can be more successful.

Thanks so much
Ah cool, I know it's an engineering apprentice forum but if you're open to most, it's pretty applicable to all of them!

There could possibly be more leniency, but it's not guaranteed. Your best bet is to act as though there won't be much leniency and then be delighted when there happens to be some! You don't want to make any assumptions, but I can imagine that it is possible that there will be.

I was extremely lucky in the sense that I applied for positions really late in the academic year (I was uncertain on uni vs. apprenticeship) - so I only ended up officially applying for two [don't follow this example!] - I was offered both apprenticeships fortunately, but the one I'm at now is the one I had my heart set on. I'd probably say keep an eye out for your favourable employers for when they release their positions and apply to them as they come up (the earlier you start the more time you can spend on your application!) and in between look at the smaller companies. I had friends who applied for 15-20 apprenticeships and only got offered one or two positions, others who applied for 25, and there were only a few like myself who had applied for a really small amount - some of them didn't get any offers. The more you apply for obviously the better chance you have, but don't let the focus of getting employed detract from your studies!
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zootzoot
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(Original post by smartince98)
Ah cool, I know it's an engineering apprentice forum but if you're open to most, it's pretty applicable to all of them!

There could possibly be more leniency, but it's not guaranteed. Your best bet is to act as though there won't be much leniency and then be delighted when there happens to be some! You don't want to make any assumptions, but I can imagine that it is possible that there will be.

I was extremely lucky in the sense that I applied for positions really late in the academic year (I was uncertain on uni vs. apprenticeship) - so I only ended up officially applying for two [don't follow this example!] - I was offered both apprenticeships fortunately, but the one I'm at now is the one I had my heart set on. I'd probably say keep an eye out for your favourable employers for when they release their positions and apply to them as they come up (the earlier you start the more time you can spend on your application!) and in between look at the smaller companies. I had friends who applied for 15-20 apprenticeships and only got offered one or two positions, others who applied for 25, and there were only a few like myself who had applied for a really small amount - some of them didn't get any offers. The more you apply for obviously the better chance you have, but don't let the focus of getting employed detract from your studies!
Hi,
Is there a good website to find degree apprenticeships (for mechanical engineering) or do you just have to go onto individual companies websites to check
Many thanks
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burntspark
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(Original post by smartince98)
Ah cool, I know it's an engineering apprentice forum but if you're open to most, it's pretty applicable to all of them!

There could possibly be more leniency, but it's not guaranteed. Your best bet is to act as though there won't be much leniency and then be delighted when there happens to be some! You don't want to make any assumptions, but I can imagine that it is possible that there will be.

I was extremely lucky in the sense that I applied for positions really late in the academic year (I was uncertain on uni vs. apprenticeship) - so I only ended up officially applying for two [don't follow this example!] - I was offered both apprenticeships fortunately, but the one I'm at now is the one I had my heart set on. I'd probably say keep an eye out for your favourable employers for when they release their positions and apply to them as they come up (the earlier you start the more time you can spend on your application!) and in between look at the smaller companies. I had friends who applied for 15-20 apprenticeships and only got offered one or two positions, others who applied for 25, and there were only a few like myself who had applied for a really small amount - some of them didn't get any offers. The more you apply for obviously the better chance you have, but don't let the focus of getting employed detract from your studies!
Thank you so much for your help!! very very infomative
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username5225164
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(Original post by zootzoot)
Hi,
Is there a good website to find degree apprenticeships (for mechanical engineering) or do you just have to go onto individual companies websites to check
Many thanks
Hiya,
The government apprenticeship site is a good one to use. You can use the browse section to specify the industry, your location and the proximity you like.. from there you can look at degree apprenticeships.
https://www.findapprenticeship.servi...chMode=Keyword
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zootzoot
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(Original post by smartince98)
Hiya,
The government apprenticeship site is a good one to use. You can use the browse section to specify the industry, your location and the proximity you like.. from there you can look at degree apprenticeships.
https://www.findapprenticeship.servi...chMode=Keyword
Thank you
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Hoc est Bellum
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(Original post by zootzoot)
Hi,
Is there a good website to find degree apprenticeships (for mechanical engineering) or do you just have to go onto individual companies websites to check
Many thanks
Hi zootzoot,

You can also use general job websites like indeed and Google jobs. In addition to this, you can search the internet for companies that do apprenticeships and check websites to see if they are recruiting. Another option is to look through job boards on individual college/uni websites.

Smartince is a legend and had provided very good responses.
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Hoc est Bellum
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(Original post by smartince98)
Hey, what industry is it you're looking to go into?

I'm a Civil Engineering degree apprentice. I'll start off by answering your first few questions:

What sort of tasks? - This depends on your apprenticeship/employer, but my company basically throw you straight into project work. Of course your first few months will be learning the ropes, but as you're training most generally want you to be doing work that is valuable to the business, whether it's project work/admin/assistance. Usually this is outlined on the advertisement. One thing I will say, though, is an apprentice doesn't mean you're making cups of tea for everyone! You are generally thrown straight in to get the best out of you

Is it a part-time course? - Yes, one day a week is scheduled; you'll be put into classes with other people on the part time course, but not everyone in the room will necessarily be a part time student. You don't really notice that though

Is it difficult? - If you set yourself a proper routine and make sure you're balancing everything efficiently, you'll be fine. Your employer shouldn't be putting too much pressure on you at work to the point that you feel you can't do your uni work. It's in their best interest that you get the best out of your course. Organisation from the start is key, it'll be difficult for the first few months but once you've gotten into it you'll find your rhythm.

A-Levels - depends on the employer. Some will look solely at grades but others will be more lenient. It's best to be honest with your grades, and if you happen to have low predicted grades get brought to interview it means they like you as a person and want to learn more about you. Of course, higher grades are more favourable however if employers feel like there is an academically weaker candidate that will fit into the company better and make the best of the situation, grades may be irrelevant. Edit: I'd look into the grade requirements of the university course provider if you're concerned about your A-levels too.

In terms of being worried - If you go into it thinking that your entire career depends on it you're only going to make yourself more nervous, and potentially less favourable. It's best to just be open minded, apply for as many companies as possible and do your research on those companies. If you get brought to interview/assessment, great, go into them confident in yourself as a person and just be yourself. Take the thought of your future depending on it out of your mind, and just enjoy the interview/assessment day. There's no need to be scared, as you build experience you'll become more confident, and if you end up with no place anywhere there are always options that come up throughout the academic year. Its best to broaden your options than to be narrow-minded and head straight for the 'best' firms. There are plenty of smaller firms offering apprenticeships that are just as good, and probably less competitive.

I don't think anyone can answer if it's hard to be accepted by a really good company. There are so many variables i.e. number of applicants, number of vacancies, abilities of applicants, whether you're suitable for the job, whether people are genuinely interested or applying as a back-up option. The larger/better companies may have longer processes, such as telephone interviews before an assessment day, all prior to an initial interview and maybe even a second interview. However, it is obvious that the further you get through those processes the more of a chance you have, just be open minded about it.

A lot of companies want to know that you're able to work independently but also as a team, any hobbies or interests that you have that may reflect that could be useful. If you have no team-based hobbies, reflect on times where you've had to work as a team through your academic years. Try to be concise, but also engaging in your applications - you don't want to write such a small amount that it looks like you're uninterested. You want to come across as enthusiastic, but don't go throwing in random curveballs of facts that you just found off of a quick google search. Most importantly, be as true to yourself as you can. You don't want to have blanket answers to application questions that anybody else can come up with. What do YOU really think, and what kind of impact do you want to have?

Hopefully this helps, if you need me to clarify anything let me know
This is a great answer by the way.
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Hoc est Bellum
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(Original post by burntspark)
Hey, I am looking to apply to degree apprenticeships next year (for 2021 intake), I have some questions.
What sort of tasks do you complete at work?
Is a degree apprenticeship considered a 'part time' university course?
Is completing university work difficult as you have to work a job too?
Do you need good predicted A-Level grades?

Otherwise my main problem is actually securing a position. I don't want to go to university so I really want a degree apprenticeship, but I am really scared that I won't get a position because they are so competitive.
Is it actually really hard to be accepted by a good company? eg. BT, Caterpillar, Thales
Is there anything I can do to make my applications better/ stand out? (any skills/ interests/ projects I can show)

Any help is much appreciated.
Thanks
Your question has been answered really well but let me know if there is any other questions you have.

I am happy to help
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burntspark
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hey, I have some more questions
Do you think that you will earn a better salary when graduating as a degree apprentice compared to a normal graduate?
Did you do A-Levels??
Also, I have only seen about 10-20 degree apprenticeship vacancies offered this year in my preferred location and industry (civil and mech), is it worth having a 2 hour commute or working in software which I am not passionate about- i dont know if i will like working in software or electrical. but then again i am scared that I wont receive a position on these 10-20 because they include massive companies like Rolls-Royce (i think my chances are 0 with big companies like this). what is your opinion on this?
i only say this because there is nothing on my application that particularly stands out, im your average guy doing 3 A-Levels, I am not sure how to improve my chances
sorry for the questions
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username5225164
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(Original post by burntspark)
hey, I have some more questions
Do you think that you will earn a better salary when graduating as a degree apprentice compared to a normal graduate?
Did you do A-Levels??
Also, I have only seen about 10-20 degree apprenticeship vacancies offered this year in my preferred location and industry (civil and mech), is it worth having a 2 hour commute or working in software which I am not passionate about- i dont know if i will like working in software or electrical. but then again i am scared that I wont receive a position on these 10-20 because they include massive companies like Rolls-Royce (i think my chances are 0 with big companies like this). what is your opinion on this?
i only say this because there is nothing on my application that particularly stands out, im your average guy doing 3 A-Levels, I am not sure how to improve my chances
sorry for the questions
There is the potential that when you graduate the degree apprenticeship, you could be on a higher salary than a graduate as you would have the years of experience in the industry that a graduate doesnt have, but it's not guaranteed. However, you would have earned atleast two annual salaries prior to graduating (depending on the length of your apprenticeship), so even if you graduate as an apprentice on the same salary as a typical graduate, you would have already had all that cash behind you.
I did A-Levels in Art&Design (AS), L3 Math Studies (AS), Applied Science and Environmental Sustainability.
I think you just need to apply for as many apprenticeships as are available to you. Dont worry so much about the company they're with if your concerned about not getting somewhere, just look at the training and the course they are providing to you. If you get an offer in a larger firm then great, but closing yourself off from smaller companies isnt worth it if they are providing the same course to you as the larger firms are. You need to do your research, but any apprenticeship is better than none at all if that's what you're set on doing. You will know at interview stage whether the company is one that you'll want to join. They dont all look great on paper, but when you go there you might feel like you'll fit right in and you'll see the scope of works. Remember, there is always the option of declining an offer if you do well in interview but you dont feel like you're the right fit or you dont like what they do. You'll know before you join if it will be worth it
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burntspark
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(Original post by smartince98)
There is the potential that when you graduate the degree apprenticeship, you could be on a higher salary than a graduate as you would have the years of experience in the industry that a graduate doesnt have, but it's not guaranteed. However, you would have earned atleast two annual salaries prior to graduating (depending on the length of your apprenticeship), so even if you graduate as an apprentice on the same salary as a typical graduate, you would have already had all that cash behind you.
I did A-Levels in Art&Design (AS), L3 Math Studies (AS), Applied Science and Environmental Sustainability.
I think you just need to apply for as many apprenticeships as are available to you. Dont worry so much about the company they're with if your concerned about not getting somewhere, just look at the training and the course they are providing to you. If you get an offer in a larger firm then great, but closing yourself off from smaller companies isnt worth it if they are providing the same course to you as the larger firms are. You need to do your research, but any apprenticeship is better than none at all if that's what you're set on doing. You will know at interview stage whether the company is one that you'll want to join. They dont all look great on paper, but when you go there you might feel like you'll fit right in and you'll see the scope of works. Remember, there is always the option of declining an offer if you do well in interview but you dont feel like you're the right fit or you dont like what they do. You'll know before you join if it will be worth it
thanks for all of your help!! I will apply for as many as I physically can no matter whether it is big or small company, its just the issue is some are in software and electrical engineering which is not the sector i want to join and i am not sure whether it is worth applying for them or not.
What i might do is just apply for all of the ones in my preferred locations, then just see how many offers I get etc. thanks for all of your help.
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#40
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#40
(Original post by burntspark)
hey, I have some more questions
Do you think that you will earn a better salary when graduating as a degree apprentice compared to a normal graduate?
Did you do A-Levels??
Also, I have only seen about 10-20 degree apprenticeship vacancies offered this year in my preferred location and industry (civil and mech), is it worth having a 2 hour commute or working in software which I am not passionate about- i dont know if i will like working in software or electrical. but then again i am scared that I wont receive a position on these 10-20 because they include massive companies like Rolls-Royce (i think my chances are 0 with big companies like this). what is your opinion on this?
i only say this because there is nothing on my application that particularly stands out, im your average guy doing 3 A-Levels, I am not sure how to improve my chances
sorry for the questions
Do I think graduates or apprentices will earn more? Well in the short term, apprentices will definitely earn more - three years experience is hard to compete with even if you have a first class degree from Cambridge. In the long term, apprentices are also more likely to earn more as they have additional qualifications in the apprenticeship standard/framework that demonstrate a range of competencies. However, some companies look for degrees from top unis so that could hinder your salary.

I did not do alevels, I did an advanced apprenticeship that progresses onto a HNC, HND then a BEng (if my company decide to keep me on).

First of all, it is not worth having a two hour commute at all - "A study by the University of West England found that adding 20 minutes to your daily commute has the same negative effect on job satisfaction as receiving a 19 percent pay cut. In fact, every extra minute commuting lowered satisfaction with their job and leisure time". You will not enjoy your job with a 2 hour commute.

Still apply for companies you feel like you have no chance with - you are competing with other people who don't stand out and if they see something in your cover letter (or answers to questions) you may get an interview. Even if you don't you will gain valuable experience with making applications.

There is always something that can help you stand out - were you part of any clubs or societies, have you had any jobs, have you started any businesses (car wash, mowing lawns), have you got any hobbies, can you play an instruments, can you solve a rubiks cube - literally anything.
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