What’s it really like to be an Apprentice Consultant?

Meet first-year Degree Apprentice, Nicander

I joined Atkins, a member of the SNC-Lavalin Group, in January 2021 on the Apprentice Consultant Development Programme (ACDP) in our Aerospace, Defence, Security and Technology (ADS&T) division. Before I started, I was most excited about working with people from different disciplines and understanding the consultancy environment. After researching Atkins' massive range of projects, I was eager to enjoy some real-world experience getting my teeth into them.

My first day was amazing

It was an unusual start, as the UK was in lockdown. However, the day went really well, so much so that I completely forgot I was working from home. Colleagues at all levels were extremely welcoming. I realized that there would be a steep learning curve for me, but everyone was happy to help and support me – I only had to ask.

Atkins helped me hit the ground running from day one

I was nervous about starting virtually in the middle of the pandemic, as I was unsure how to build effective working relationships in an online environment. However, the virtual induction that was put on by Atkins resolved my uncertainties.

There are nine other apprentices in my cohort

We have settled into our respective roles and have gone on to build strong relationships. We often have different ideas and approaches, so it's great to collaborate to identify opportunities, solve problems together and deliver amazing results.

The study helps the job, and the job helps the study

The Apprenticeship allows me to gain an industry-recognized degree qualification. At the same time, my Atkins role offers real-world responsibilities and opportunities on innovative and forward-thinking projects.

I'm growing as a person

I'm gaining the confidence to try new things and broaden my skill set and experiences. My time in the role has reinforced my belief that you can do anything as long as you are prepared to take the opportunities and grasp complex challenges. This is something I seek to do every day while on the ACDP.

My work on the "Levelling Up Manchester" recruitment drive

Recruitment is an area that really excites me. It helps Atkins attract the best talent, in line with Atkins' culture and values. Initially, it felt a little daunting as I interviewed candidates with far more industry experience than me.

Seizing opportunities to lead

It was certainly strange being on the other side of the table, the interviewer rather than the interviewee. Despite this, I led some key sections of the interviews, such as the 'People' section, to identify whether candidates would be a good cultural fit for Atkins.

It was a proud moment for me

The interview team around me significantly appreciated my input and feedback on the candidates. The trust that Atkins places in their young professionals strongly empowers us and instils a fantastic level of confidence.

In Atkins, apprentices are valued equally

As an apprentice in a room full of senior leaders, I'm treated as an industry professional. Regardless of how long I have been in the organization or at what level, I have something to give and can help shape the future of Atkins.

Atkins' first Apprentice Account Driver in Digital Transformation

In this role for one of ADS&T's clients, this has been my biggest responsibility so far. I'm fully immersed in business development from bid management to internal governance and supporting key account planning processes like our Blue Sheets. What particularly excites me about the role is that Digital Transformation is a crucial area of growth not just within ADS&T but across the world.

The work is complex, but I’m up for it

I had to 'get my head around the complexity of the technology solutions we had available. I am glad I took the time to learn about them. 'Digital Twinning' is a solution I find endlessly interesting as the concept can be very different from project to project.

I’m building my career by doing my best

We've had some great wins recently, including one bid I supported to provide a team to help the client draft their Cloud Policy. This is a £460k piece of work, and I was very proud of my contribution, especially as we beat the Big 4. I have learnt so much from the brilliant team around me. What I'm learning here isn't just helping me in my day-to-day role but will positively influence the rest of my career.

I genuinely love the people aspect of this role

At the heart of Digital Transformation are the people with the skills and abilities to successfully use the technology. Being able to work collaboratively in such a forward-thinking area inspires me to seize opportunities daily.

Atkins is a great place to be if you want to make a difference

In line with one of our core values, Integrity, anyone can contribute to the Social Value mission in Atkins. During my first year, I got involved in an apprentice project team looking at how ADS&T should approach Social Value.

Creating ADS&T's first-ever Social Value Awareness Week

The event launched in July 2021 and drew over 150 participants. Our strategy was to celebrate our people and how we can make a positive difference. This message was very well received. The week was packed with different activities, most notably a 'Lunch and Learn' focusing on volunteering opportunities in Atkins. It hosted six panellists who talked about their involvement in volunteering and what they gained from them.

The trust and flexibility to drive my own development

I'm passionate about becoming the best I can be and doing the best I can do in every role I undertake. Atkins provides support and encouragement for me to thrive in my career. As I have said before, the people are at the heart of what I am doing, enabling me to develop and succeed.

Inside Atkins the sky's the limit

Every time I learn something new, it sets me up to operate at the next level. All the skills I am learning are transferrable. I can work at different locations and with a variety of clients.

Here's how to get onto Atkins' Apprentice Programme

To find out more, check out our Early Careers site. The three pieces of advice that I would give are:
• Be proactive and seek out opportunities that excite you.
• Be curious, ask questions and research.
• Be open to new ideas, and don't be afraid to innovate.