My time at Reigate College greatly assisted me with transitioning into the next chapter, which was initially university. Student life and teaching at the College was a bit like that at a university, which helped me prepare better for university life and expectations. Every staff member was friendly and caring, but I particularly recall my personal tutor – who was also my Health and Social Care teacher – as she was incredibly supportive and helped me achieve my goals.

I enjoyed being a Student Ambassador at the College, as it meant I was engaged with extra-curricular activities such as Open Evenings and helping with event organisation such as Careers Fairs. Undertaking this role really assisted me with my organisational skills, which is imperative in my current job.

My route into my apprenticeship was quite a lengthy one: I’d started at university studying for a Criminology degree. About 18 months in I realised that the theoretical nature of my studies was not right for me, and I made the very hard decision to stop. On leaving, I took a range of jobs to earn some money and build my portfolio of work experience before starting to apply for apprenticeships, such as becoming a private Teaching Assistant part-time.

Initially, at Atkins, I applied for Level 4 apprenticeships with a construction focus with a view to progressing to a Level 6 qualification later. However, during the interview and assessment process they felt I was better suited to a different department. After an informal chat, they routed me towards their Level 6 Degree Apprenticeships and I secured two offers, eventually choosing Project Management.

I now get involved in running Early Careers recruitment and visits for would-be apprentices, helping them gain a better insight into the company and its routes into work. This is something I am deeply passionate about – I believe that life is not a straight, easy path and I ensure that I advocate for alternative options if ‘Plan A’ does not work out. It’s great to be able to support and welcome in potential applicants for the next generation of apprenticeships.

My role involves working with numerous (confidential!) clients across the aerospace, defence, security and technology sectors. As a Consultant, I aid our clients by assisting with delivering projects and deliverables designed to help protect and better the society that we all live in. I’m enjoying my time here at AtkinsRéalis, due in part to the endless opportunities and training provided.

My advice to anyone would be to explore all your options and make sure not to place all your eggs in one basket. Have a ‘back-up’ plan ready, as life has lots of twists and turns. By exploring all the options available to you, you’ll maximise your potential. Sometimes it’s worth taking that calculated risk, even if it seems daunting at the time: the bigger the risk, the greater the reward!

Shanice Ali

Reigate College: 2014-2016

Higher Education: Level 6 Degree Apprenticeship in Project Management, Northumbria University

Currently: Apprentice Consultant, AtkinsRéalis 

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