Case Study - Amy Salter
WATA Reviewing Officer, Caroline Robinson, met up with former Apprentice Amy Salter to talk about her days on the training programme. Amy completed an Advanced Apprenticeship at Michell Instruments in Technical Services with WATA in 2007.
What made you decide engineering was the career for you?
I always enjoyed doing things with my hands and being practical, I was quite good at Maths as well. My dad worked in the field, he’s a Service Technician
What did your family think about you doing the Apprenticeship?
They thought it was a good idea. I think Apprenticeships were different when Dad did it. The structure is quite different now.
It’s impressive on your CV when it shows all the qualifications you have done for the apprenticeship and you’ve got the experience of work as well. It makes you more employable as a young person
So how did you find out about the apprenticeship?
I didn’t go straight onto the apprenticeship. I was interested in practical courses so I went to college open days to find out about different engineering courses. At one particular college I was speaking to somebody and he said wouldn’t I like to do a cookery course or something!
Was there something else you had in mind if you didn’t get into Engineering?
No not particularly. I had a great job at Woolworths, I just wanted something else to progress with. I didn’t want to stay on at 6th form I wanted to go to college.
How did you end up doing the Apprenticeship?
I signed up to WATA because you came into my college and I had already finished my 2 years of OND. The OND was a small class, a lot of people dropped out. I think there was only 3 people left at the end and only two passed. So that’s why I signed up. I got called up for an interview and that was that.
Do you think you were a good apprentice?
I think academically perhaps not the best. At the beginning I think it was very painful to get anything out of me. I had the ability I just prioritised some things in the wrong order to start with!
I did my HNC and during my last year of the Apprenticeship I didn’t go to college so I had no excuse really not to be doing Key skills. I found it hard getting myself to do it but I did in the end!
Do you have memories of good advice given by work colleagues?
Mike Robinson was my boss when I first started at Michell and I always spoke to him about anything, he was very approachable. I think he guided me in a lot of things, it helped that it was a small team.
What was it like being the only female apprentice; did it make any difference to you?
I don’t think so. There wasn’t many females on my day release course, there was a couple but they were a lot older. I think when I was at college I related to people my own age, the fact they happened to be male didn’t matter.
What advice would you give to another female apprentice?
I would always say just be yourself. If you pretend to be something your not it makes it harder to deal with situations that come up. Sometimes you could get remarks from male students but I think once you get settled in people just take you for what you are. I had a lot of good friends at college and I still keep in contact with them.
Was there anything you weren’t expecting in the apprenticeship?
No, I think it was quite well explained when I started, I don’t think there was anything hidden where I thought ‘Oh no I didn’t know I’d have to do this!”
What was the most difficult aspect of your whole training?
Well there’s always the time management! I think I was lucky because I had experience of a job before. Some people I knew struggled getting their head around actually being at work. I was ok because I got on with everybody and understood the work relationship you should have with people. When I started work at Woolworths I used to be very shy and wouldn’t ask for anything and then I was put in a situation where I had to deal with people everyday. It made me a different person. I think if I had come here straight from school I would have struggled a lot more and might not have asked people for help.
What was the most enjoyable part of your apprenticeship?
That I was earning money and didn’t run up all these horrible debts my friends were running up.
I really enjoyed college, and getting the qualifications, I also got an extra City and Guilds certificate in CAD along the way.
Would you like to carry on with education?
I really like the idea of doing an OU course. I like the idea of doing more qualifications.
What advice would you give to someone that was thinking about an apprenticeship or was currently doing an apprenticeship?
Get as much advice as you can. Don’t try and do everything on your own. If you’re not sure what you are doing, people are there to help. You shouldn’t be too hard on yourself and give yourself pressure you don’t need to have.
Everyone I’ve dealt with has been so helpful. I was lucky I had a really good team at work that would help and support me if I needed it.
You have so many places to turn for help when you are doing an apprenticeship, if you are having problems at work you could speak to WATA and college had good tutors you could speak to.
What is your job role now?
I’m a Service Engineer. It’s quite varied work. I deal with enquiries where I often get put on the spot, but I like that, its good to be pushed. There's an element of problem solving if the description of the problem is a bit vague and a lot of testing is needed. I also do some routine servicing and calibration.
What advice would you give to companies thinking of taking on an apprentice?
I think a mentor is definitely a good idea. Financial incentives are always a good idea! I got a pay rise every year, as long as I passed.
Do you feel you’ve progressed a lot since you finished the apprenticeship?
Definitely and I feel I can go further.
Thank you for the interview today.