Gaining a greater understanding of engineering
Callum is a first-year apprentice for our building services team in London. After growing up in a family of engineers and accountants, he tells us why engineering was the right choice for him and his hopes for the future.
I grew up in Orpington, Kent, with a family split between careers in engineering and accountancy. As a result, I was always mathematically biased in my studies, enjoying maths and physics rather than the subjective style of English-based subjects throughout my school years, and aimed to become either an engineer or an accountant. Perhaps unsurprisingly, my preferred choice of studying the methodical style of maths was reflected in my A-Level choices – maths, physics and history (to improve my essay writing).
I was heavily influenced by my family in my career choices, inspired by all their personal experiences in their separate industries. After my GCSE’s I wanted to gain a greater understanding of the path I might want to take and arranged work experience in accountancy at Cancer Research’s head office in Angel. Whilst I enjoyed seeing the professional world, I found the day-to-day work, to be frank, uninspiring. There was a silver lining to the experience – I could now set my aims for a different career path which, in turn, led me to engineering. I liked the idea of being able to see my work’s impact on the real world while working with like-minded people.
I originally applied for an apprenticeship within Waterman Structures but, after my interview, I was contacted by the building services team director who explained the role of a building services engineer. It sparked my interest in the industry and I contacted Waterman to organise work experience in both departments during the summer after my A-Levels. After working with both teams, I decided that building services was more in-line with the career path I wanted to pursue.
At the time of applying for the degree apprenticeship scheme at Waterman, I had already received my university offers and an un-conditional place at Coventry. However, after hearing about their new programme, I was eager to know more. I saw the benefit of ‘hands on’ experience whilst gaining my qualifications at the same time, realising it would help me compete in the ever-growing push from employers to have both. This also gave me an edge over other people joining the industry who might’ve taken a more traditional route within full-time education.
I started my apprenticeship at Waterman on 10 September 2018, quickly followed by the beginning of my course at London South Bank University. I soon noticed that the building services team was smaller than structures, but this made it easier for me as a beginner to ask questions as I was joining a closely-knit group. It also helped that there were a mix of graduates and apprentices in the team who were going through the same university / work process who were more than happy to support me.
With the help of my colleagues, I quickly learnt how to use design software such as AutoCAD and Hevacomp, and I really enjoy learning by working on real projects like Oval Village which is a very unique residential block that will be constructed within the existing gas works structure. I am excited to see this project develop further and aim to develop a greater understanding in mechanical and electrical systems in order to create my own stamp on our on-going projects.
I enjoy seeing the results of my work being implemented and the added responsibility I am given on key projects. It’s really rewarding to feel part of an ever-expanding industry, being at the fore-front of all the new technologies and constantly striving for efficiency, sustainability and comfortability. By choosing the degree apprenticeship route, I can continue my studies whilst gaining invaluable experience in the industry.
Going from not knowing the existence of building services engineering to what I know now, I’ve gone beyond what I would’ve expected to learn. I am learning every day and enjoying my time here at work.
We are proud of all our apprentices and are delighted to support the government’s ‘Fire It Up’ campaign to help raise awareness of the huge variety of apprenticeships available. If you would like to learn more, you can visit their website by clicking here.