Learn, earn and train: the benefits of being a STEM Ambassador and an apprentice

STEM Ambassador at work

The opportunities and experience I’ve had whilst training as an apprentice have been fantastic - from working on real-life customer projects, to undertaking work that involved international travel, it was something I never thought would be involved with undertaking an apprenticeship.

In September 2012 I began a technical engineering apprenticeship, and just over four years later I work for Siemens in the Aeroderivative Gas Turbines (AGT) business as a controls engineer.

The experiences I’ve had training as an apprentice allowed me to learn, earn and train to become an engineer in a field I found increasingly fascinating - something I don’t think I would have as much of an appreciation for if I hadn’t had the hands-on experience that has come from an apprenticeship.

Subsequently, for these reasons, I decided to become a STEM Ambassador to promote my positive experiences working in a STEM-related career, and to hopefully inspire others to consider this as a potential career for them.

With regards to engineering specifically, I think there is a stereotype that all engineering work is dirty and isn’t for women, but this isn’t the case. I work with other female engineers on a daily basis, and most of my time is spent investigating technical issues in an electrical lab with other controls engineers.

Engineering really is universal, and has a broad range of applications that I think people just simply aren’t aware of. I was surprised when I originally undertook research on apprenticeships at just how varied and interesting the opportunities that were offered can be.

From what I have experienced, I believe there are excellent prospects for anyone interested in engineering, or STEM as a whole. I think more is being done to encourage younger people to look into the possibility of a STEM career, than perhaps was being done a few years ago, and hopefully this is helping to change people’s perceptions that STEM careers are not just for certain types of people.

Schools can definitely help to show younger people the possibilities that a STEM career can offer, as in my experience, younger people tend to be swayed more by the general opinion of society that STEM careers are only for certain types of people. Challenging this stereotype is absolutely key.

Deciding on your future at a young age can be really scary, so having a bit of extra support and guidance can really make a difference, and I was really grateful to those who offered that exact same guidance and support to me when I was at that age. 

In reality, there are a variety of roles you can undertake under the umbrella of STEM. For me, being an engineer doesn’t mean you have to change your personality, or have to act a certain way – a genuine and real interest in problem solving and trying to figure out how things work is what is needed; a real sense of curiosity and perseverance.

By allowing people to understand the opportunities available to them, and highlighting the incredibly varied types of work that can be undertaken through a STEM career, I believe many doors can be opened to people who would find these types of vocations fascinating.

I have been a STEM Ambassador for the majority of my apprenticeship, and have been involved with careers fairs, practice interview days and other team-building related activities.

When I first became an Ambassador, some of these events seemed a little daunting, especially those whereby I had to give speeches or presentations in front of lots of students.

By pushing myself out of my comfort zone, I actually found it really fun to engage with students in this way, and it also made it a lot easier to go back into work and deliver work-based presentations due to the experience I had presenting to students.

By participating in these events, I hope to show to younger people, particularly girls, that there are more career options available to them that just what society expects them to choose.

I enjoy working with younger people, and giving them insight into what careers they could potentially go into.

Deciding on your future at a young age can be really scary, so having a bit of extra support and guidance can really make a difference, and I was really grateful to those who offered that exact same guidance and support to me when I was at that age. 

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