Ask an apprentice: Tom Mitchell

We talked to Tom about his experiences as an apprentice at Capula, here's what he said:

Q. What Apprenticeship are you currently studying for?

A. I am currently studying a Level 6 Embedded Electronic Systems Design Development Engineer Degree Apprenticeship at Staffordshire University.

Q. Who or what inspired you to take up an apprenticeship at Capula?

A. I heard about Capula through a work friend at my previous employer, who told me about the opportunities they provide within their apprenticeship scheme, and I applied to Capula before my apprenticeship contract ended.

Q. Route into an apprenticeship?

A. After completing an Advanced Level Apprenticeship in Engineering Manufacture (Electrical and Electronic Engineering), I joined Capula on the Level 6 Degree Apprenticeship with Staffordshire University.

Q. What does your typical day in the workplace include?

A. I spend my day working on substation control system drawings and documentation to support multiple projects for customers working in critical national infrastructure environments in the energy sector.

Q. What skills have you developed during your apprenticeship?

A. Since joining my apprenticeship with Capula, I have developed numerous skills that I feel will benefit me throughout my engineering career. My apprenticeship journey began working in production on the shopfloor where I developed my wiring and assembly skills. After working on the shop floor, I moved into the test team, where I gained experience testing cubicles and enclosures.

Two and a half years after joining Capula, I was given the opportunity to join the Design Engineering team. Working on projects for the electricity transmission and distribution sector has significantly developed my AutoCAD skills and improved my understanding of substation engineering.

Q. What is your college/work life balance?

A. Taking up an apprenticeship does require some sacrifice. However, you can establish a healthy balance if you’re organised. To ensure I manage my time effectively, I create a to-do list, regularly review my workload, set realistic deadlines, and block time in my diary to focus on work that needs to be prioritised.

Q. Why did you decide to progress onto an apprenticeship over university?

A. When I was 16-17 I wasn’t keen on the idea of going to university after seeing people I know get into quite a lot of debt and then work in organisations and roles that had no relation to the degree they studied. I told myself that I would only go to university if a company sponsored me to go. I believe that gaining an apprenticeship, where I am learning and earning at the same, is the most valuable route to support me on my career path.

Q. What has been your greatest achievement during your apprenticeship?

A. My greatest achievement during my apprenticeship was receiving an overall distinction in my Foundation Degree in Electrical and Electronic Technology. I feel this is my greatest achievement as it was difficult completing this through the Covid pandemic and whilst juggling work commitments on the shop floor and attending the office every day. I’m a practical learner, so I found it difficult to concentrate on the online lectures, and there was the added issue of not being able to get into college to complete the laboratory experiments.

By the end of the academic year, we were able to return for one day every 2 weeks across a 6 week period which meant we had time to fit the lab experiments in (albeit in half the time). Achieving a distinction overall proved to myself that through hard work and dedication I am capable of achieving the results I wanted, no matter what obstacles are thrown my way.

Q. Have you been able to get involved in any major projects?

A. I have been given many opportunities to get involved in multiple large-scale projects at Capula. Working within the electricity transmission and distribution sector has given me great experience on substation control system projects across multiple National Grid sites.

Q. How has Capula supported you through your apprenticeship?

A. Capula have financially supported me through my apprenticeship by covering the cost of course fees. In addition, they have supported my personal wellbeing, helping with issues that I have had particularly whilst studying at home during the first Covid-19 lockdown.

Q. What would your advice be to somebody thinking about studying an apprenticeship?

A. I would recommend the apprenticeship route to anybody that is considering it. An apprenticeship showcases the skills, knowledge, and behaviours you have to carry on in your chosen career. In addition, you will benefit from gaining on the job experience, have access to bespoke support and achieve qualifications at the same time.

Q. What do you hope to do next?

A. My next goal is to continue my professional development, gaining more onsite experience so I can progress my skills within the electricity transmission and distribution sector. I would also like to work towards achieving chartered status once my apprenticeship is complete.

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