Hello, I Am Joshua S
After three consecutive years of doing a week's worth of work experience at Plant Oxford, I was invited to an apprenticeship event at the plant, to try and convince me to apply for their apprenticeship. It worked! I also went through the whole UCAS process and applied and was accepted into a university, which would have been my backup if I didn't get into the BMW apprenticeship. Thankfully, I got a place and I have never looked back. It was the best decision I have ever made. The appeal of combining real hands-on experience by working in a company, while studying at the same time was massive. In engineering, work experience is incredibly important, and I was able to get that straight away. Furthermore, the company sponsors my degree, meaning I have no university debt, which is a huge positive as well.
Tell us more about your experience
My day-to-day roles have varied significantly throughout the apprenticeship based on what year of the apprenticeship I was in and which department I had placements in.
In the first year of the apprenticeship, a lot of my time was spent in the Training School workshop learning hands-on engineering skills such as milling, turning, hand fitting, electrical wiring, electronics, and more.
Years 2 and 3 I spent rotating round different departments every three months. I found this to be an exceptional experience.
I was able to constantly adapt and challenge myself to new departments and new projects.
Departments varied from Process Planning, even to a short stint in Finance. I was consistently trusted with projects within the departments, as well as learning each of their function within the business.
My projects naturally gravitated towards digitalisation, as it combines my love of engineering and computing. During these rotations, I was also attending college for one day a week as part of the degree, with a second day off to complete my studies. In the final year, I am placed in my home department, again with two days of the week spent on my university studies. I am primarily working on a global project relating to SAP (business and management software), which was completely new to me and is bringing many exciting opportunities, including travelling to Germany, which I love.
The highlight of my career has to be winning an award in the Young Pioneer category in The Manufacturer's Top 100 awards in 2021.
Particularly in the final year of the apprenticeship, managing my time has become quite tricky, particularly balancing university work, and normal work activities. I have been reminded by my manager to ensure that I am not taking on too much work, so that what I am working on is of high quality and doesn't intrude on my studies
BMW is very supportive. I feel comfortable raising any questions or concerns either with my hiring manager, training manager or HR if needed and I know that the problem will be sorted. There are great levels of support regarding balancing work and university, as my managers know that it is incredibly important and gives me enough time to complete it. Furthermore, the other apprentices are always willing to help too.
Every 1:1 I have with my manager, there is an open discussion about my future after the apprenticeship. I have been presented with options that will be decided upon within the next couple of months.
My manager is incredibly supportive about my career path at BMW and constantly reminds me that my input into where I want to be is just as, if not more, important than the business requirements.
Just apply! There is no harm in applying and going through as much of a hiring process as possible. It is always useful to get that experience, so apply and see how far you get. I have had a fantastic experience with my apprenticeship and have loved learning in a working environment. I have still been able to have a good social life, particularly by being able to visit my friends who did go to Uni in many different parts of the country, so don't worry about losing out on that side of things. If you do get hired, I would absolutely take up the opportunity.
Work experience is much more valuable than just having a degree and doing an apprenticeship will often set you apart from the rest.