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Five minutes with… Allen Ikedi, Apprentice OLE Engineer .

Careers 07 Feb 2024

There are a variety of paths into a career in design and engineering, each has their merits and each suits different people. Apprentice OLE Engineer, Allen Ikedi, tells us about why an apprenticeship was the choice for him.

Highlights .

  • Getting the full story: theoretical learning, alongside practical application
  • Supported by colleagues with industry and life experience
  • Getting a head-start in the industry

What made you choose the apprenticeship route?

I chose an apprenticeship as it meant I could work whilst studying for a degree, avoiding the debt associated with university study and giving me a head-start in the industry. Although I enjoy learning about the theory of things, I think it’s also important to see the practical application to get the full story. And an apprenticeship offered me the chance to do that.

I actually did a work experience placement at BakerHicks before I applied. I really enjoyed the time I’d spent at the company and learnt a lot about engineering in that short time, so when the opportunity arose to go down the degree apprenticeship route here, I didn’t hesitate to accept.

What does your day-to-day role involve?

I work in the Rail team and am currently on secondment to an overhead line engineering (OLE) consultancy, where I’m working as part of the team on the demolition of a bridge. We need to re-grade the overhead line back to system height after the bridge is removed. Day-to-day, this means working in CAD software, such as MicroStation, to create record drawings to illustrate the proposed works. This involves analysing the effect the changes would have on the existing system and making sure they’re fit for purpose, plus achievable.

What do you enjoy most about your apprenticeship?

I enjoy the social aspect a lot. Prior to starting work, I had this pre-conceived idea that it would be boring, and I’d spend most the time working alone. This is far from the reality. My team are great, they’re funny and enjoyable to be around, as well as always being there if I have any issues, whether it’s work, university, the industry or even general life advice. Many of my co-workers have also previously done a similar programme and are able to offer extremely useful advice, I consider them all to be my mentors!

I also really enjoy the university side. I’m away in weeklong blocks so am able to engross myself in the work I’m doing, plus live like a university student for that period so I’m not missing out on any of those experiences.

How has your apprenticeship helped you in progressing towards your career goals?

Doing an apprenticeship has been extremely helpful for me. I have work experience, a degree and a solid foundation of industry knowledge. This puts me at an advantage over those who might only have been doing one or the other. It’s also given me a head start in experiencing the different areas of engineering I could work in. My hope is that I will gain experience all aspects of the industry then eventually chose a position that best aligns to my interests.

Do you have any advice for anyone thinking of taking this route into the industry?

Just apply! There are many companies out there who are in need of apprentices, and they’re likely looking for someone just like you. Start early and build yourself a good CV, apply for internships and work experience placements, sign up for virtual courses and build your applicable skills, these will all make you stand out from the pack. Do your research, it’s not for everyone, but if you enjoy a challenge and are genuinely interested in the industry, it’s a worthwhile experience and will give you a head-start in your career.

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