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Meet the Apprentice – Ryan O’Connor from Jacobs Engineering

With Apprenticeship Week starting on Monday (4 March), DYW Glasgow spoke to SDS’s Apprenticeship Ambassador for 2018, 24 year old Ryan O’Connor, to ask him some questions about his apprenticeship journey so far.


Can you start by telling us where you work and what your current job title is?

I work for Jacobs – an engineering company with 80,000 employees across the world.  They have offices in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Inverness as well as other locations around the UK. My job title is Technician and I work in the company’s Highways Division. 


How long have you been at Jacobs?  What have you done during your time there?

I joined Jacobs in August 2015 as an Apprentice Civil Engineer in the Utilities team.  Part of my apprenticeship involved studying for an HNC over two years – during that time I spent four days a week at work and one day on Campus at Edinburgh College.  After I completed my HNC I moved onto the Jacobs Graduate Apprenticeship programme which I am currently doing at Heriot Watt University.


What inspired you to become an apprentice?

When I left school I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do - all I knew was that I wanted to pursue a career in the STEM subjects as they were the ones I enjoyed at school. I took a couple of years out of formal education and spent time researching career options.  I discovered the Jacobs apprenticeship programme online and applied – the rest is history.


What is it like working full time and also studying for a degree?

I am working towards a degree in Civil Engineering.  Having undertaken an HNC as part of my first apprenticeship, I went straight to second year of University.  With the Graduate Apprenticeship programme, I do a ‘work-based degree’, which involves being at work four days and going to university one day per week.  Instead of doing all the course work like a full-time undergraduate student, I do practical work-based assessments which count towards my final qualification.  It is hard work and requires a lot of dedication but I love the combination of working in a professional environment and complementing that with formal learning.  


What’s the best things about being an apprentice?

Getting to work in a professional engineering environment while also earning a salary and meeting new people every day. No two days are ever the same.


What does a typical working week look like?

There is no such thing as a typical working week! I split my time between several projects with the biggest being the A96 Inverness to Nairn. Other times I might be out visiting other project sites or I might be involved in a STEM event at a school or sometimes in my own office, with the aim of getting other young people thinking about a career in STEM.


Where do you see yourself in five years?

Finished my degree and working towards becoming a Chartered Engineer.  I’d like to move into more of a managerial role at Jacobs too.


What would your advice be for someone considering doing an apprenticeship?

Go for it! You’ll never look back.


If you’d like to find out more about Ryan’s working week, follow @DYWGlasgow on Instagram.  On Friday 8 March we’ll be sharing pictures and captions from Ryan’s week at Jacobs – watch this space!