Zoe Adams is an Electrical Engineering Apprentice with Jacobs Douwe Egberts in Banbury. She is working towards a 4 year Engineering Apprenticeship, completing a HNC or foundation degree. Zoe is currently the only female Engineering Apprentice at JDE and is looking forward to inspiring the next generation of female engineers! Zoe presented the Apprenticeship of the Year Award at the Cherwell Business Awards 2016. Read more.
Zoe completed A Levels at Chenderit School in Banbury before starting her 4 year Apprenticeship in September 2013.
Why did you choose to do an Apprenticeship?
I opted to have a gap year after completing my A Levels to save some money prior to going to study sociology at Warwick University. I took a temporary role at JDE (then Mondelēz) working as a packaging line operator where I discovered that I had a real interest in engineering.
Whenever the production line stopped, I’d try and resolve the issue myself or would shadow the technicians while they repaired the equipment. I really enjoyed learning about the equipment and how it operated and soon realised that I wanted to learn more about engineering.
I had the chance to speak to Apprentices at the company and quickly realised that an Engineering Apprenticeship would be a great fit for me.
How did you find out about your Apprenticeship?
Through working for the company I was able to find out about the Apprenticeship scheme and decided to apply for it.
What have you gained from your Apprenticeship?
I spent the first year at college learning basic electrical and mechanical engineering skills. We were taught welding, turning, milling, bench fitting, electrical installation, computer aided design, to name just a few.
After the first year, I returned to my employer where I was able to these newly learnt skills into practise whilst working alongside experienced engineers. I now have the chance to run design and installation projects on my own where I have to source materials, design components, lead trials and testing, summarise results, and then present findings to my colleagues. This means that I have a mix of office and factory work which is great.
What do you plan to do next?
I aim to secure a packaging development role within JDE as this would allow me to apply my newly gained engineering skills to develop new packaging materials, machinery and support continuous improvement activities.
How will your Apprenticeship help you achieve this?
My Apprenticeship allows me to develop a wide range of hands-on and business skills whilst studying towards higher education. I am mentored by a range of experienced scientists and engineers who are equipping me with the skills and experiences needed to become a packaging technologist in the future.
What advice would you give ato someone thinking about doing an Apprenticeship?
I believe that Apprenticeships offer a great alternative to traditional education routes. You learn and develop through real life experiences and have the support of the company and its employees, to help ensure your success.
It can often be hard work, especially juggling work, college and a social life but it is possible and the rewards make it worthwhile.
My company has a number of engineers and senior managers who joined the company as apprentices proving that an Apprenticeship can lead to any number of career opportunities.
And the best part is that you are paid while you learn!
What advice would you give an employer who is considering employing an Apprentice?
You have to be committed as an Apprenticeship scheme needs funding and dedicated mentors for it to be a success. It is important that a company takes apprentices in order to grow talent with an aim fulfil future business needs – not just as low cost labour.
A successful Apprenticeship scheme will give you the chance to create home-grown talent with the specific skills and behaviours needed to grow your business and ensure its long-term success.