Two women apprentices at prime employer Schneider Electric offer a glimpse into working in engineering alongside their studies


Women share insight into Schneider Electric apprenticeships

Women share insight into Schneider Electric apprenticeships

 February 10, 2020

Are you thinking about joining Schneider Electric as an apprentice? Two young women - Autumn and Lacey - share their experiences as apprentices and offer insight into what to expect from working with this prime employer for women.


Autumn's Sales Engineer Apprenticeship

Autumn Topping is a degree apprentice with Schneider Electric in Warrington, United Kingdom as a technical sales engineer for Industrial Automation.

Schneider Electric sales apprentice Autumn

How did you decide you wanted to do an engineering apprenticeship?

Maths has always been a subject throughout school which I enjoyed and felt I was strongest at. There were various paths that I had considered (finance, economics, IT, Science). However, towards the end of college, I found that engineering was the career path that I wanted to take as it’s very challenging and innovative.

I never wanted to miss out on taking up a degree as it may provide career opportunities in the future. I also wanted real-life experience out of the classroom, and to be able to earn a salary and avoid student debt. Therefore, I was in search of an apprenticeship to gain valuable experience whilst completing relevant academic studies. An apprenticeship offers the best of both worlds.

What attracted you to Schneider Electric?

When I first came across Schneider Electric, I discovered they were a multinational corporation leading digital transformation in energy management and automation across multiple industries. When I read the apprenticeship description it offered exactly what I was looking for. There were many apprenticeship schemes that Schneider offered across the UK and across different business sectors. The apprenticeship I applied for was a ‘technical sales engineer apprenticeship’ in process automation and based nearby.

The main reasons that attracted me to join Schneider were that it is a global company meaning there will be opportunities to progress my career within the company and possibly a chance to travel and relocate. Also, the apprenticeship scheme offers a paid degree in engineering, excellent salary and perks, and real-life experience. I also admire how Schneider promotes innovation and energy efficiency.

How does a typical day look for you?

There is no typical day in the office. When I first started my apprenticeship, I was warmly introduced to everybody in my local office and found out in-depth everybody’s roles as well as Schneider’s structure. Being in sales, I was then introduced to the sales team and assigned a mentor to shadow. I began becoming more familiar with the day to day tasks and spent the beginning of my apprenticeship settling in.

Now being in my second year, I am frequently traveling to other SE offices across the country and different departments to gain a wider understanding of our processes and to make connections to other employees who I may work closely with in the future. I have also begun introducing myself to our installed based customers which includes shadowing my mentor in meetings, site visits and attending events.

What do you enjoy most and least about your work?

The main thing I enjoy about my job is how different each day is. There is always something in my calendar, whether it is spending time in the office, a site visit, training or a customer/internal event (which may include traveling outside the UK). Travelling isn’t for everybody, but it is certainly something I like about my job.

The most challenging part of my job is how technical it can be. It is a major jump from college as I am now working with real-life projects, but I need to make sure I can soak up/understand lots of new things every day.

Is your apprenticeship what you thought it would be?

My apprenticeship is much better than I anticipated. I feel that Schneider has invested a huge amount in me. I am constantly learning and always feel supported throughout and it is incredible to see how far I have come whilst only being in my second year.

How do you balance work and studying?

Most of my university is distant learning, where I attend Skype lectures throughout the week and complete tasks through the university portal online. I visit a university three times a year (for a week at a time), where I can complete practicals and coursework. I can contact my lecturers whenever I need help, and I can watch the online lectures as many times as I want. Although my job is Monday to Friday, 20 per cent of it is assigned to university work, so I can catch up with lectures during my days in the office.

The sales engineer apprenticeship allows me to be flexible when balancing my work with study. For example, if I am away on business one week, I can catch up the week after and vice versa.

What type of job would you like to do in the future?

When my apprenticeship ends, I am hoping for a full-time account manager sales role. I will already have 5 years of experience within Schneider and our installed base customers whilst shadowing my mentor in this role. I will also have acquired the relevant qualifications to pursue a career in this industry. Although I am uncertain where I will end up in the long term, I believe I will have a strong start to my career.

What advice would you give anyone thinking about doing an apprenticeship?

I would advise anyone leaving college not to rule out apprenticeships for any career they are looking for. The main features to look for are the job role (what experience will you gain), any qualifications and whether they will provide extra training and support. An apprenticeship is a brilliant way to kick-start your career early.

Lacey's Electronics Engineering Apprenticeship

Lacey Evans is an Electronics Engineering degree apprentice out of Schneider Electric's Worthing, United Kingdom office. 

Schneider Electric engineering apprentice Lacey

How did you decide you wanted to do an engineering apprenticeship?

I’ve always known that engineering is for me – it combines the satisfying problem-solving side of math with the fascinating fundamentals of physics! I decided to follow the degree apprenticeship route against the traditional university route as it meant that I could begin my career sooner. I know of many people that have their degrees but are now stuck with debt and struggle to find a job due to the lack of workplace experience they have – a degree apprenticeship ensures you won’t have these problems!

What attracted you to Schneider Electric?

I started out at Schneider Electric by doing my work experience – after that, I was offered a part-time job throughout college until I learnt about the higher apprenticeship programme, which was just what I was looking for.

Tell us about a typical day in the office?

A typical day in the office involves a lot of watching, learning and doing – I’m surrounded by people who are more than happy to help or let me watch over their shoulder, which is vital for this role. I do a lot of research day to day and often try things out for myself after watching and learning to consolidate my knowledge. I learn something new every day, which makes for the perfect opportunity to build the knowledge and skills for the career I am striving for.

What do you enjoy most and least about your job?

The thing I enjoy most about my job is most definitely the learning – I learn about so many new things that all link into engineering that I never would’ve considered before. The list of possible routes to take through electronic engineering is endless. The thing I’d say I enjoy least about the job would have to be the workload – the combination of full-time work, part-time university, assignments, and exams can be extremely tough, all while juggling personal life can prove to be a lot of work, but with the right support and determination, it is possible.

Is your apprenticeship what you thought it would be?

I went into my degree apprenticeship with very little idea about what it would be like, it was all new to me and I didn’t know anyone who had done it before. I think it’s almost impossible to predict what doing an apprenticeship will be like as it is different for everyone – the most important thing is to keep an open mindset and to be able to adapt to changes – it’s all part of the learning.

How do you balance work with your studies?

I try to plan out my schedule week by week – every week is different so it’s important to make sure I can accommodate the work I’ve planned to ensure that I’m on top of everything.

What type of job would you like to do in the future?

After my apprenticeship, I would certainly like to find myself with some form of electronics engineering job – potentially software engineering or test engineering, but I am keeping my options open as I have plenty of time to work out what I enjoy most.

What advice would you give anyone thinking about doing an apprenticeship?

Carefully consider your options. A common myth is that apprenticeships are the easier route, which is most definitely not the case – though they do come with the benefit of gaining experience, while earning a wage and so remaining debt-free. With all things taken into consideration, given you have the passion and drive for the subject you’re considering and are prepared to put in the work, then this is the perfect opportunity.


Kick-start your career with Schneider Electric

If you’re looking for a career at Schneider Electric, whether it be an internship, apprenticeship or executive position, check out the exciting job opportunities on offer.

 

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