It is important that I have a career or have a plan for what I want to do when I finish my A – levels. I could have chosen to go to university, but this was expensive and uninterested me, so I decided that I wanted to go down the apprenticeship route. A company called BAE systems offered higher apprenticeships, and worked for the Ministry of Defence, designing and manufacturing marine and air vehicles, and would also allow the apprentice to study a degree whilst being paid for working for the company, so I would be gaining money instead of losing money if I was an apprentice.
I completed an application form that asked questions about why I would like to work for BAE Systems, and also asked me to show evidence for certain skills, such as co-operation and handling unforeseen problems. The CEIL allowed me to gain experiences which could be used as evidence for this. Also, the application included education history and asked if the applicant had any computer skills.
After sending the application in November, I had to wait a month until they replied, saying that I had made it to the next process, and that if I was shortlisted, I would be notified. At the end of February I was then sent an email inviting me to an assessment centre in Farnham, in Surrey, for an interview, a group exercise and to give a presentation on a specific task that they would send in a few days’ time. Of course, by this time I had started to worry that I wouldn’t hear anything from this company again, so I was extremely excited to be invited to prove myself to the assessors.
I was invited to meet them at a hotel on Sunday 8th March, which the company paid for, and met with the other candidates (8 of us in total) as well at the assessors and apprenticeship organisers in the evening before the next day, when the assessment would actually happen. As I got to know them, they seemed to be very nice and I started to relax around them, and started having casual conversations with everyone. A lot of questions were answered about the apprenticeship, although I couldn’t find out what I would actually be doing due to the secrecy around MOD contracted companies.
The next day, we travelled to the assessment centre and started the day by doing the group exercise. We were given a scenario and in a group of 4, rank a group of items by number from 1 to 15 on how useful they would be to somebodies survival in the specific scenario. I expected to something physical for this part so I was a bit surprised, but also relieved because I knew I could demonstrate co-operation and also show that I wasn’t afraid to say what Is on my mind, as well as making sure everyone’s ideas were heard. This took about 30 minutes.
Next, I had to give my presentation, and this happened exactly as I expected it to. I had to create a presentation that stated the main challenges with underwater navigation in submarines, and also had to be around 15 minutes long. Once I gave the presentation, they asked me questions about how I found the information, and also some technical questions too. Due to me meeting everyone the previous day, I wasn’t nervous, which I found very helpful.
Finally, I was interviewed. This consisted of 4 questions, and took around about 30 minutes too, which was very different to how I imagined the interview to be like. I had prepared for a formal, hour long interview with many different questions practiced, but it turned out that this was quite informal, even though everyone was wearing suits. I was asked one technical question, one question about co-operating and working in a team, one question about adapting to changes to overcome a problem, and, of course, why I wanted to work with BAE Systems .I found that this interview went well, mainly because of how enthusiastic I am about working a company which uses such fascinating technology.
At the end of the assessment, all candidates were told that we would find out if we were to be given conditional offers or turned down in less than a week.
Overall, this has been a very good experience because I now know what assessors look for in group exercises and interviews, and I have also become more confident with meeting new people and presenting myself in a specific way.
Matt has now heard back from BAE, and has this to add:
BAE recently contacted me, offering me a conditional offer for the Combat Systems Higher Apprenticeship in Weymouth. I was told that I performed very well at the assessment centre, and that I would be starting September 7th.
Now I feel like I have a massive weight lifted off of my shoulders, as I have been offered a good paying job after I finish sixth form this year, and I can study to get a degree without paying university fee’s. Most importantly however is that I will be gaining experience, which is what I have wanted since I joined the CEIL at the end of 2013.
I do not believe that I would have got this apprenticeship without the CEIL, as it has prepared me for this moment since I started my internship through different opportunities and projects. The internship has made me more confident, through working with new people and doing tours on open evenings, and also allowed me to work more successfully in a group, solving problems more efficiently. This is what the assessors wanted to see, and without these skills, someone else would have been chosen for the job. The CEA allowed me to improve me cooperation skills, as well as giving me experience in working to a deadline, which is another thing that this job will involve.
The main point I would make is that you should apply as soon as possible. Don’t worry about how long it takes for the company to reply, because they will, eventually, and also, try and present yourself as someone who is enthusiastic about a job, because that is the type of person that they want working for them.
When I first found out about the opportunities the CEIL provided, I realised that through enrichment I could do something that would really benefit me and prepare for life after leaving this school, which was soon approaching. In October 2013, I joined the CEIL and was told to settle in and look around, and I was amazed by the facilities, as I had only been up here once for a tour that was cut short due to a busy schedule. I was told I could study up here, and that I would be given the opportunity to become an intern if I wanted to do this for enrichment. At first I was a little hesitant as I had just started my courses and was having difficulty adjusting to them, but I decided I would, as I knew that this internship would develop me, not just as student, but as person, because I would be given a lot of independence and would also have to work on my weaker skills, especially my laid back attitude and confidence. This internship would mean becoming a better leader, and telling people to do things, which I usually didn’t like to do.
During the first few weeks of my internship I got used to the place and being here an hour a week, as well as studying hard on my new subjects. I was then told I was due a 1:1 with the Centres director, Marcel Ciantar. He had been studying my personality to find my strong and weak points, such as my lack of confidence when speaking to people I didn’t know and how, although I was enthusiastic about the CEIL, I didn’t look like it. Hence, Marcel put me in situations where I had to be confident and look happy and charming, such as working with a stranger to make presentations with future sixth formers, describing what the CEIL’s main aim was: To prepare students for leaving school so that they can be picked for the jobs they apply for by making them as professional as possible. We had to give 6 presentations and make a power point whilst using an interactive display and involving the groups we were talking to. At first I was nervous and dreading it, but towards the end I felt a lot more relaxed and comfortable with presenting in front of people I barely knew. This was an important moment for me, and made me realise that within a month of joining the CEIL I was becoming a different person, but most importantly I was becoming an opportunity seeker.
A few weeks later I participated in the sixth form open evening, as I knew this would increase my confidence even further, and also help me with speaking to older people and conversing without it being awkward. I was to be at the college at 6, then take tour groups up to the CEIL, not just to show them the area, but to show all the area’s leading up to it as well, like the resources area and study rooms. I answered any questions the students or parents wanted to ask, and was very polite, so I felt that my people skills improved a lot more because of this experience as I was dealing with different types of people.
After this I was offered a place in the Centre of Excellence Ambassadors, whose job it was to advertise the CEIL to non-interns, which would hopefully lead to more people realising the opportunities the Centre of Excellence provides, as well as giving me experience in event planning and hosting, as well as using media to interest people. I joined the already active group in a meeting, at was introduced to all the people in it and started thinking of possibilities. After planning it out, we decided to host a quiz in the costa café. We talked to the principal of sixth form and head of enrichment to find a date when we could do it, and talked to the operation managers about funding, and then we held the event, providing food and prizes from the funding we were provided. People turned up in groups and the event was a success.
After this exams started, and once they had finished, members left sixth form as they were about to start university, so I became a lead figure of the CEA, and still working with the members who were staying for another year, we began planning out the next year of school, and when would have meetings and some initial ideas of events.
Overall, the Centre of Excellence in Industrial Liaison has helped my CV grow as well as my personality, and has allowed me to mature and talk seriously to people who have never met before, preparing me for life after school, whilst making me more likely to get the job I aspire to have.