Based out of our Sewage Treatment Works in Island Road, Reading, Oliver is currently studying towards his degree in Chemical Engineering at the University of Greenwich, where he spends one day per week. The other four days are in the workplace and across Thames Water sites working as part of a small team of Research Scientists.
Why did you choose to apply for a Thames Water apprenticeship? My criteria for an apprenticeship in order of importance was as follows: The university course, the size and flexibility of the company and their focus on learning and development. Filtering the available apprenticeships by these aspects respectively left a select few opportunities. Knowing that it is impossible to understand a company from the outside, I wanted to learn as much as possible in the interviews. This is where I was won over.
Speaking to the HR teams and future colleagues I was charmed by their genuine interest in me, and their enthusiasm for learning and development. I barely knew the name of 'Thames Water' before applying, but researching them during and after the application phases, I was able to get a good image of the company as a whole, but not department specific information. This would only be discovered when I started my role.
While there are tasks that must be completed, I soon learnt that a person's role at Thames is made naturally, meaning: you will naturally fall into responsibilities and projects depending on where your strengths and interests are. I feel so lucky that I am able to work somewhere that operates in this way.
Can you tell me about your life and career journey? From the bright age of 13, I began my time as a working citizen. A humble paper round evolved into numerous different roles through my teenage years. In this time, I lived in a small rural town with very little industry. This frustrated me, as I had such high ambitions for science and engineering. I knew that I had to find a way to broaden my career scope.
Growing up as a science-liking learner, all signs pointed to full time university. Good A levels, a decent work ethic and huge passion for learning. However, overwhelmed by the abundance of options, I chose to take a year of travelling in Japan post college. Here, I had the privilege of having a great deal of experiences in working, exploring and independence. This step out of the norm physically made me look outside the box, to Degree apprenticeships.
I began to view apprenticeship as not just an alternative to university, but the FUTURE of university. The opportunity to get a degree (and beyond!) while having industry experts to mentor you through it and gaining 'oh so valuable' experience at the same time, is too good to turn down! My experience thus far is that apprenticeships are what you make them. If you want to focus on your learning, there will be support. If you want to just get on with work, you have the tools to do it. If you want something, it is up to you to get it.