• Tuesday, April 16, 2024


‘Learning and earning on the job is a great bonus’


Umair Patel works on project delivery of the F-35 fighter jet contract

By: Eastern Eye Staff

UMAIR PATEL, 21, is a third-year project management apprentice at BAE Systems in Samlesbury, working on military aircraft programmes.

“My role supports a major F-35 fighter jet contract, ensuring project deliverables are met and that we are meeting customer expectations on the world’s largest defence project,” outlines Umair.

“This is my third placement since starting my apprenticeship. In my first year, I worked in the UK Hawk fast jet team, and in my second, I worked in the project management team for the Royal Air Force Typhoon aircraft. Moving to a new role each year is really giving me great experience and a wider understanding of the business. I definitely want to stay at the company for the long term.

“The best part about working at BAE Systems is the team dynamic. There is a strong team ethic – everyone is willing to support you. Because the company has a large apprenticeship intake, I’m surrounded by a lot of peers in the same boat and it makes for a great working culture.”

Umair grew up in Blackburn and attended Tauheedul Islam Boys High School before moving on to Cardinal Newman College in Preston, Lancashire. It was here that he discovered BAE Systems and the degree apprenticeships the company offers.

He went along to BAE Systems’ Samlesbury site for a week’s work experience and realised it was the perfect place for him. Umair admits that prior to this experience, he had some misconceptions about apprenticeships.

“A lot of the advice I was given at school centred on university – which I think is common if you excel academically. Until I found this opportunity at BAE Systems, I didn’t know that degree apprenticeships were a thing.

“For me, it presented the opportunity to earn and study towards my degree at the same time – gaining that first-hand experience you don’t always get in the classroom. In the current economic climate, being able to graduate without accruing student debt, as well as earning a wage, is a real bonus.”

F-35 fighter jet

Umair says his family were incredibly supportive of his decision. Having a strong support network around him gave him the confidence to apply for the role and go down this route. When asked what advice he would share with anyone considering an apprenticeship position he replied: “My advice would be to keep an open mind. The difference in how we’re taught in the education setting, versus the business setting, can initially be a little tricky to grasp and can seem overwhelming, but with time I realised the learning opportunities I have here are endless.

“I would tell my younger self to grasp opportunities as they come. As kids, we don’t always spot the opportunity to learn or progress and can often choose the easiest option. I see the value of these opportunities now in adult life.

“When you’re applying, it’s all about standing out, whether it’s making your CV unique or ensuring they remember you at the interview stage. You’ll often be asked to demonstrate any relevant experience you have – but it’s important to remember what is meant by experience.

As an 18-year-old, was I expected to have any project management experience? Of course not. But I demonstrated the skill sets and characteristics which would make me a good candidate.

“Whether you’ve had a part-time job in a shop, or had work experience in the sector you’re applying for, highlight it – it’s all relevant.”

The closing date for apprentice applications is February 28, 2023. There are multiple graduate intakes throughout the year, including in January, June, and September. Find out more and apply at baesystems.com/earlycareers

Additionally, there are thousands of roles available across the UK for experienced professionals. Find out more and apply at baesystems.com/ experienced professionals

INSPIRED by Umair’s story?

BAE Systems recruits for thousands of entry level positions every year, whether that’s straight out of school, college or graduate roles, with routes for both traditional academic studies and more vocational avenues such as T-Levels.

So, we’ve rounded up some of the best advice from our recruitment team to help your application stand out from the crowd.

Have confidence in yourself

Going through an application process can be daunting and it’s only natural to question yourself, especially if you’re applying for your first role.

There’s no such thing as a conventional route into an engineering or technology career, and the industry thrives on hiring people with different skills and viewpoints, so focus on what will make you a great hire. Remember, no one is expecting you to be perfect or have vast experience – companies are focused on your potential at entry level.

Do your research

While you don’t need to memorise the entire history and breadth of the company you’re applying to, you do need to do some research. Make sure you have a good understanding of what the company does, the industry it sits in and what the role you’re applying for involves. Depending on how far in advance you’re searching, try and secure any relevant
work experience you can in your chosen field.

Social media channels are just as useful in getting to know a company and its people as the official website pages. And take notice of any employee case studies as they will give you a flavour of what you can expect.

Make sure to reference this knowledge and research when you’re at the application and interview stages.

Show your passion for technology

Engineering and technology is an exciting industry to be in as it shapes every aspect of our dayto-day lives.

If applying for a role in the sector, make sure to demonstrate your tech-savviness throughout the process. Remember, it’s not all about coding and developing either – the industry requires a range of skills.

In your application, make sure to highlight what areas of technology excite you and why –these could be current developments or future trends.

Ask questions

Whether it’s at an in-person interview or on an assessment day, remember that asking questions shows you’re engaged and want to learn more.

You can ask about training and development opportunities, the company’s viewpoint on a topic, or the interviewer’s own experience at the company – candidates who are engaged and ask questions throughout the process always stand out.

Highlight your key skills

It’s important to highlight skills alongside any qualifications you have. Recruiters look at the ‘Personal Achievements’ section of CVs just as closely as they look at qualifications.

You can discuss points on how you managed your own time by completing a big coursework project, or taught yourself a new skill outside of school.

Give specific, detailed examples and answer the open-ended questions – what you did, why you did it and how you achieved your goals.

Audit your social media

Social media can be a great tool during the job application process – from following leaders at the company that you’re applying to on LinkedIn to joining different networking groups with other candidates.

However, social media can also be a revealing window into people’s lives. Before applying for a job, take a little time to audit your social media accounts –review the privacy settings and remove anything that you wouldn’t want a potential future employer to see.

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