The Engineering Trust

My Apprenticeship Journey – Elizabeth Seal – Mechanical Designer

This week, we chat to ex-ETT apprentice Elizabeth Seal. She talks about why she chose to do an apprenticeship, her journey through the programme and how her learning continues to progress after completing her apprenticeship.

Thanks for taking the time to talk to us.

Can you give us a quick outline of who you are and where you are with your career at present?
Hey, I am Elizabeth, I am 23 and I am a Mechanical Designer working at Veolia Nuclear Solutions. Veolia Nuclear Solutions designs and manufactures solutions for nuclear decommissioning. I completed my apprenticeship at Oxford Instruments in 2017 after starting at 16 straight after my GCSE's. I am currently studying a Mechanical Engineering HND as part of a degree apprenticeship. 

What attracted you to engineering and an apprenticeship?
I chose Engineering as I had always had an interest in formula 1 and a general curiosity of how things worked. Engineering is used in everything and I found that really interesting and wanted to know more. I felt that A levels and university was not the right route for me to take, and being able to gain qualifications whilst gaining industry experience sounded like the best option.
Can you tell us more about your apprenticeship?
During my apprenticeship I completed many things including the formal qualifications, machining, electrical and electronic tasks. I also had a go at coil winding for Superconducting Magnets, assemblies of Cryostats, installations of Cryofree Dilution fridges and customer service experience. We also competed in apprentice competitions throughout the years. 

Tell us about a challenge or low point you have faced during your career so far and how you overcame it?
I would say one challenge would be going into industry straight from school at the young age of 16, and also being a young woman going into a male dominated industry. I made sure I did everything to the best of my ability and tried my best to work well with everybody.

What have you gained from your engineering journey so far?
I have gained a huge amount of interpersonal skills from the variety of people you end up working with. I have gained confidence in myself as I am doing a job that I love and getting great feedback on my work. I gained a lot of industry experience during my apprenticeship which has been massively beneficial within my career. This has also helped me with continued training as I can apply the content within the formal qualification to real-life situations.

What advice would you pass onto someone who is just about to embark on their engineering career?
Take every opportunity that presents itself to learn more and to gain more knowledge, and give 110% to everything that you do. Also, do not be afraid to make mistakes, that is how we all learn and develop. 

What would you say to encourage other women into an apprenticeship and engineering career?
I would say that if Engineering is a subject that interests you, and you are curious about how things work, and you want to gain formal qualifications and industry experience, then definitely look to do an Engineering apprenticeship. There are many different types of engineering so something for everyone. When you ask someone what they think Engineering is, in my experience the top answer is cars, when in fact it is so much more than that. Try different things and see what you enjoy. The fact that you are a woman makes no difference in your ability to do the job. If Engineering is something you love, then go for it. 

How do you feel the Engineering Trust Training helped you during your apprenticeship journey?
ETT has a real family feel, and tailors your journey to suit you, making it a personal experience. My Training assessor was extremely supportive and helpful through the whole of my apprenticeship, and without their guidance I would not be where I am today. 

What in your career so far are you proud to have achieved?
I think my proudest moment so far would be the completion of my apprenticeship and seeing 4 years of hard work pay off. I am now looking forward to working towards a degree and I am sure I will get that same feeling again when I complete that. 

How do you see your career developing in the future? Do you have any particular aspirations, ambitions & personal goals? 
I envision myself finishing my degree in 2022, and then further progressing on professional courses to develop my knowledge and skills. I would love to have an involvement with apprenticeship schemes in the future to guide and mentor apprentices.

Would you recommend doing an apprenticeship?
I would definitely recommend doing an apprenticeship. You learn and gain formal qualifications, alongside getting job and industry experience which is priceless. This means you are getting paid to learn as well as being paid to work. It can also mean following on to do higher qualifications such as a degree like I am doing now, with no student debt.

Would you recommend us as an apprenticeship provider?
I would highly recommend the ETT as a training provider. They provide support through your whole journey and provide guidance to get you to where you want to be. They also helped a huge amount when it came down to the recruitment process in terms of liaising with myself and the companies, making the process very easy.  


Thanks again Elizabeth for taking us through your apprenticeship journey and best of luck with the rest of your career!  

Questions by Mark, ETT Training Officer