Usaamah Latif

Why did you choose to do an Apprenticeship?

Simply, it just made sense.

In a field such as the one I decided to go into (engineering), a main attraction point for employers is experience. In addition to that, the world of engineering industry, specifically automotive, is so difficult to be summed up in textbooks or lectures. I also wanted a degree, to allow my career path further along to still be open for me, as some higher level jobs do require it. The idea of taking on such a massive debt also felt pretty daunting, as it does for many students who need to take out a loan.

An Apprenticeship solves all these problems:

  • No debt
  • Earn whilst you learn
  • Gain 4 years’ worth of industry relevant experience
  • Get a fully funded degree

How did you find out about your Apprenticeship?

Whilst I was filling out my UCAS form for universities, my dad stumbled across an Apprenticeship with National Grid. He was amazed at the salary they were offering in addition to all the qualifications (a degree as well as an NVQ). Through that we researched further into it and we both realised it was the way to go.

What have you gained from your Apprenticeship?

Even though I’m only 2 years in, I have become a totally different person (in a good way). An Apprenticeship is not only about working and studying. It’s all about the personal development that you achieve. You learn about the mannerisms in a professional environment. How to present yourself; how to construct a properly worded email; have meaningful discussions. All of these things sound so simple, yet are so difficult to master.

In my opinion, even though I’ve gained plenty of knowledge in multiple areas of the automotive manufacturing industry, my biggest achievements are probably my drastic improvement in soft skills and attitude in a professional environment. Something a university can find difficult to teach.

What do you plan to do next?

I would love to progress into a management role in any company whether it be automotive or not. I would love to stay with BMW as I truly believe that they are a good company that take care of their employees. To progress into a role which has more responsibility and influence would be an ideal scenario. Perhaps even something like project management.

How will your Apprenticeship help you achieve this?

Due to the 4 years’ worth of company experience it would be incredibly easy for me to fit, in a job role within BMW. The variety of professional contacts and business understanding that I would have gathered would be huge. In addition to this, because I have experience in industry rather than education only, it would give me a head start into progressing into a management role.

What advice would you give a young person who might be thinking about an Apprenticeship?

If you haven’t yet decided that you want to fully commit to undertaking an Apprenticeship, construct a list of advantages and disadvantages of your options. Whether it may be a gap year, university or an Apprenticeship; it is incredibly important to feel happy with the choice you are making. Don’t follow the crowd. Follow what makes sense to you. There is lots of advice out there in making sure you choose the right company. For me the best advice I can give, is to understand what a company is offering in terms of formal qualifications, as well as a day to day job. You need to feel comfortable that you are gaining relevant qualifications (NVQ/HNC/degree) as well as a fulfilling a day to day job that will stimulate your mind.

What’s your top tip?

You should consider that employers are not looking for engineers/electricians/accountants/business people etc. They are looking for motivated young people with a drive to learn.

With that said, my top tip relates to ensuring that you present yourself, the best way you can. Presentation involves a range of things, from how you dress to talking about your hobbies/interests in a clear concise manner. Ensure that you ‘be yourself’ and not talk about things that you haven’t done. Although, ensure that you talk about the things you have done in detail, considering elements employers may look out for (team working, honesty, problem solving etc.).

How do you feel about becoming an Apprenticeship Ambassador?

I feel motivated to get involved with spreading information about Apprenticeships as I am incredibly passionate about them. I regularly attend careers events to spread information about this incredible career path with my company anyway. Being an Apprenticeship Ambassador allows me to continue doing what I’m doing to a larger audience.