The Engineering Trust

My Apprenticeship Journey - Michael Everest - Systems Engineer

We asked Michael Everest one of our 4th year apprentice working as a Systems Engineer for Ultra Electronics to tell us about his route into an apprenticeship and his next steps following completion.

Hi Michael, tell us how you found yourself at Ultra?
After completing my Level 3 Extended Diploma in Engineering I really wanted to get an apprenticeship in the field however I wasn’t quite sure on what type of engineering (electrical or mechanical) I wanted to get into. I applied for many different apprenticeships ranging from aircraft maintenance to electronic and got interviews at two potential employers, one of which was Ultra. They work in a very specific sector and I hadn’t really thought of it being an option for me however as soon as I had completed the interview, had a tour of the building and found out exactly what they do it really sparked an interest for me.

What about engineering, why did you choose to follow that path?
I have always been interested in engineering. As a teenager I never thought of myself making a career out of it, I was always under the impression that a university degree was required to get into engineering. The apprenticeship I’m doing allowed me to get high qualifications alongside gaining valuable experience in the field; I have just completed a Level 4 HNC in Electrical and Electronic Engineering through a two-year part time course at college. My parents were very hesitant in the beginning as they thought I wouldn’t continue gaining qualifications however I could see that there were lots of opportunities via an apprenticeship and I liked that I was able to work and study. This was a major advantage of choosing to do an apprenticeship and my parents are now very supportive of me and just want me to keep going and continue progressing in my career.

Tell us more about your apprenticeship experience?
As part of my apprenticeship the first two years were all to do with me figuring out what type of role I would like to pursue. This involved rotating on a three-month basis between many different teams/roles within the company and trying to understand what was most suitable for me. In the third year I had figured out that I either wanted to be a Test Systems Engineer or a Systems Engineer and so I spent six months in each of these departments, basically working as an engineer for them carrying out specific tasks, attending regular meetings whilst continuously working on improving myself. During my fourth year I knew I wanted to pursue a career as a Systems Engineer and I have been working within that department for eight months now, producing vital documents for many projects.

Any low points during your apprenticeship and how did you get through them?
There haven’t been many low points during my time as apprentice mainly due to the fact that I have always received the support needed from my ETT Training Officer, college teachers and supervisors/managers at Ultra. I guess one low point was during a busy period at both college and work, during the past year. I had to manage my college, my NVQ and work tasks simultaneously. I found having to juggle these and a very busy personal life put a lot of pressure on me and increased my stress levels; I haven’t found myself in such a situation before. Through the use of planning, organising my time and my work load, I succeeded in ensuring that my college work was not only submitted on time but to a high distinction level. I am very proud of the fact that I have overcome this difficult time and have learned the skills necessary to be able to handle a lot of things at the same time.

How has Covid-19 impacted you?
I have been working from home during the quarantine which in itself has been a struggle. As an apprentice it impacted me a lot as I was unable to receive the amount of assistance I am used to, unable to simply go up to people and asking them questions/advice on the tasks I completing. I was able to micromanage a large set of tasks handed to me by my supervisor which involved drafting and issuing multiple documents. These documents were a key part of ensuring that the project was delivered within the set timeframe. The documents included a wide variety of topics such as: test plans, test reports, design work and physical testing. I was able to meet the deadlines while working independently under the given circumstances. As part of this set of tasks I was asked to go into the office during this difficult time and carry out vital testing that provided the overall qualification of the system. I am very proud of the fact that I was able to complete all of these tasks by managing my time well and staying organised. This has been a great achievement because I surpassed a lot of people’s expectations and received generous praise from my supervisor and mentors via an email.

How has ETT helped you achieve your apprenticeship?
Engineering Trust Training have really helped me be organised in my working life as the monthly visits really help you to confide in your mentor and ask them for any guidance they might have if things are getting difficult. My Training Officer has really helped me stay focused throughout the duration of my apprenticeship and always helped me see that my potential is endless and consistently helps me to make plans for progression in the future. Also the NVQ qualification that is achieved through ETT is helpful to build a portfolio of all your work during your apprenticeship that can potentially be used in the future. I would definitely recommend choosing to do an apprenticeship with ETT as they have helped me set up my career for the rest of my life and I will never forget all the people that were involved in getting me to where I am today.

So what’s next?
I can honestly say that I have made more progress in the last year of my apprenticeship than I ever thought I would have. I see only bigger and better things to come through hard work and I am more motivated than ever to achieve the aspirations and goals I have set out for myself. I have just received news that I have been accepted into the University of Hertfordshire on a Degree Apprenticeship and am ready to take the next step in my career by attaining a BEng (Hons) in Electrical and Electronic Engineering. I am very excited for the next chapter in my career as I am already in talks of having my job title change from Apprentice Engineer to Junior Systems Engineer. My five-year plan includes becoming a Systems Engineer which I plan to achieve through the completion of my degree and the continuation of gaining valuable work experience.

Written by Michael Everest

Questions from Mark, ETT Training Officer