As I’m sure you’re already aware, we’re currently in National Apprenticeship Week (4 – 8th March 2019), the annual celebration of apprenticeships and what they mean for individuals, employers and the wider economy.
Tharsus is a long term and passionate supporter of apprenticeships, believing they really benefit both the person taking them and the business offering them. We specialise in robotics and automation and our recruits get the chance to explore every aspect of our work, seeing what it really takes to build these advanced machines from scratch.
Hamish Carroll (19) is one of our current electro-mechanical engineering apprentices. Here he explains why he came to us and how he feels about his role.
What were you doing before starting your apprenticeship?
Originally I moved from my home town, Stockton-On-Tees, to Newcastle to study Mechanical Engineering at Northumbria University. I completed my first year studying at the University, whilst working part time at the Sage Gateshead. In that time I helped to start a Mountaineering society at the University where I met some of my closest friends.
Why did you choose to do an apprenticeship rather than continue with your course?
Although I enjoyed the social life at University, I was dissatisfied with my education and the direction of the career path I was heading down. At university I was just one of hundreds of students studying the exact same subjects and gaining the same skills, without adding any industrial or ‘real world’ experience. Through my part time job I had been exposed to the world of work, which allowed me to gain an insight into the training and development opportunities available outside the university environment. I knew I wanted to leave university and start working, but equally I didn’t want to stop learning – I still wanted to pursue my education.
I started researching apprenticeships as I knew they offered a way to get real-life practical experience whilst still studying. Through my brother, who worked as a software engineer for Bowe digital, I found out about Tharsus and after looking into the company I knew it could offer exactly what I had been looking for.
What appealed to you most about working for Tharsus?
Tharsus stood out to me because of the unique structure to the apprenticeship scheme, which would allow me to explore both mechanical and electrical engineering. Being competent in both fields is a great way to give my career an edge and allow me to stand out. During the early stages of the interview process as I got to further explore Tharsus, my passion for engineering really came back to me, something which had been missing during my time at university. The whole atmosphere around Tharsus really inspired me and once I had experienced this I didn’t want to give it up!
Describe your typical work day
When I first joined Tharsus I didn’t own a car and so I faced a two hour commute via public transport to get to work. This meant getting up at 5 am and getting on a bus to make it to work on time! Recently though I made the (expensive) leap and bought myself a car for Christmas: nothing beats the feeling of getting up at 7 am knowing I’ve had an extra two hours in bed each morning! After my morning coffee I leave the house to battle the Newcastle traffic and am usually at work by about 7:45 am.
That’s the standard part of my daily routine but once at work my day is a lot more varied! Currently I am moving around the business spending about two months in the various different cells (we have dedicated production cells for every customer product we have) within the business. This process allows me to see the wide variety of projects we work on and to be exposed to both the electrical and mechanical aspects of the projects. Moving around like this is allowing me to build my experience and exposing me to other aspects of the business which is helping me to develop my skills profile.
Once my day at Tharsus is finished I will often head home for some food before I start my evening shift at the Sage, usually working till about 11 pm before I go home to sleep. My weekends are most often spent out walking or exploring Northumberland either alone or with friends, to relax and unwind from a busy week.
What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned from your apprenticeship so far?
Success isn’t achieved by accident, it comes from hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, a love of what you are doing. Taking on an apprenticeship can be quite challenging in many ways but in turn, you shouldn’t be afraid to challenge your learning and get involved in making the decisions that can help improve your apprenticeship.
Is there anything unusual or surprising you’ve learned that you weren’t expecting to?
I knew when I joined the company it was pretty unique in its structure and business plan, but getting to work here and take part in company training has shown me just how unique the business really is. I have been exposed to the different company polices and the distinctive systems implemented by the business, which really set Tharsus apart.
Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
In five years’ time I would like to have completed my apprenticeship and successfully achieved a degree in electrical and electronics engineering. I am still learning about where I will fit into the company during my higher level education and post degree.
Hopefully, in five years I will be living in Northumberland and have a Collie to keep me company whilst out hiking! (A man can dream!)
If you could talk to anyone considering taking on an apprenticeship, what would you advise them?
Go for it! I feel that there is often a lot of pressure in society on young people to go to college and then university to get a good career, but this isn’t for everyone and it’s definitely not the only route into the world of work. Apprenticeships offer a varied approach to learning and can really make you stand out in the crowd!
Tharsus and sister company Universal Wolf will both be offering more apprenticeships than ever this year. We have nine available positions and are constantly growing, so keep your eye on our careers pages.
If you’d like to hear more from our apprentices on what it’s like working and learning with us, you can read another interview here.