Having considered the cost of going to university, David chose an apprenticeship career pathway instead. Here he talks about learning on the job and what life is like as a young working engineer.
What’s your name?
22 Years old.
Where do you work?
NG Bailey, Reading branch. I’m currently working on the Townlands Community Hospital and Care Home project in Henley-on-Thames.
What's your job title?
Building Services Engineer (BSE) Student Engineer.
How long have you been doing that?
Three and a half years.
How did you get there?
After realising the financial costs that can occur from going to university and, after speaking to other apprentices, I decided that an apprenticeship was the best option for me.
I felt that being able to earn while you learn was a great opportunity. From researching about engineering apprenticeships, which has always been an interest of mine, it was clear that NG Bailey stood out as the market leaders in training and therefore I applied.
What's the work and day-to-day experience like?
The work is challenging, which I enjoy. Not a day will go by where you won’t learn something new.
Every day, I have to work with and speak to clients and other contractors to ensure that the job runs on time and on budget. Being able to understand the personalities of other project personnel on site - their needs, goals and objectives - is also important to ensure we can all work together to get the job done.
It is vital to appreciate that everyone can have contrasting views on how a task can be done; the skill is how to utlise all that knowledge to ensure the task is executed in the best way.
What's the best thing about the job?
For me, satisfaction comes with handing over a project that is completed on time and the client is satisfied with, whilst also making money on the job.
And the worst?
It takes a while to get used to the early morning starts and there can be a few late finishes!
What standout projects have you been involved with so far?
The best project so far was being able to work on Southampton Civic Centre as it was a significant project for our regional team. However, one of the most exciting opportunities I’ve had is to be involved in NG Bailey’s Inspire programme, which involves going into schools and working with classes to inspire them about the possibilities of careers in engineering.
I helped deliver workshops and activities to give the children an experience of what life could be like as an engineer and hopefully inspire them to consider engineering as a career.
I have also made it onto the shortlist of six apprentices for the Construction News apprentice of the year!
How would you describe life as a working engineer?
In one word: unpredictable. You never quite know how a day will pan out. You will set yourself some goals to achieve for the day and, by the time the day is over, you will have amassed more tasks to do than you have completed on your list, but also achieved many more things that you hadn’t planned at all.
Engineering is a challenging industry where you will always have to come up with solutions to make a scenario work. However, it is also very rewarding as you know your input is going to end up with a building that will meet the needs of its occupants for many years to come.
What did you expect when you started work?
Engineering was a field that I was always interested in, but knew very little about. Therefore I was pretty much going into the game blind. It took a while to get used to the early mornings, late finishes and day-to-day running of a site, but now that I have, it feels like the norm. One of the most surprising things I have found is how a small detail can have such a huge implication in engineering terms on a project and I have always been told that if you ensure the finer details are correct, the bigger picture will run smoother.
Is there any advice you’d like to pass on to those about to enter an engineering workplace?
You only get out what you put in, so you have to be able to put in the hard yards early to make your future and opportunities better. You should never be afraid to ask questions, no matter how uncomfortable you may feel, because everyone has to start somewhere and you’re not going to know everything straight away.
Finally, you need to put yourself out there to get noticed so that you can develop to your optimum potential.
What do you think you'll do next?
The next step in my career will be to develop into a well-established and respected engineer that people want and request to have on their team. From there I hope to progress into project management and senior management in the near future.