Alexandra Struminskyj (Electrical Engineer Apprentice)
From university courses to apprenticeships, there are now more avenues into the engineering sector than ever before and it’s helping attract an increasingly diverse talent pool.
We recently caught up with apprentice Electrical Engineer, Alexandra Struminskyj to find out what’s like working for British Gypsum and the advantages of an apprenticeship.
What made you decide to do an apprenticeship?
I was really drawn to how hands-on the role was. I’ve always been attracted to the practical side of engineering and being able to participate in the daily operations of the plant was very appealing. A lot of engineering courses are firmly rooted in theory and hardly interactive. This means you can spend all day sat at a desk with your head in a book, at British Gypsum I’m able to learn and then put the theory into action.
It seemed like the best option for a number of reasons. For one, you get paid to learn, which is a big benefit. University has become very expensive and students often leave with significant debts. Ultimately, once you leave if you can’t find a role that pays off these debts it’s not been a worthwhile investment. I don’t have those concerns undertaking my apprenticeship, which is a massive positive.
What are the benefits of doing an apprenticeship?
I think it’s a great way to get into the industry, many people will choose a degree because it’s a more established avenue but in terms of employability your chances are improved from an apprenticeship. Once I’ve completed the apprenticeship I’ll have both an education and applied practical skills. I think this combination will help me stand out in a competitive job market. Plus, my chances of getting a job at British Gypsum are far higher as I’m already familiar with the way the plant works.
What’s it like being a woman in engineering?
I’ve found it to be really enjoyable; it’s a lively environment and there are a lot of jokes to be had with my colleagues. I don’t think being a woman has had any impact on my work. Each day I feel like I’m improving my skillset and becoming more confident as an engineer, which is in part down to the great team spirit on site.
What would you say to other young women thinking about applying for an apprenticeship?
Go for it, you’ll never know what’s possible if you’re not willing to give it a go. Engineering is an interesting subject and there’s a lot of exciting job roles on offer for those in the industry. Don’t let preconceived notions about the industry daunt you; find out for yourself what it’s like. If this is something you’re interested in don’t let other people hold you back, there’s nothing to be afraid of.
How do you see your future career progressing?
I just want to be a good engineer, to the point where I can go to a job and know exactly how to fix it without having to read up first. Currently I’m studying as a dual skilled engineer, which I’d like to continue. It means I can get to a job and look after things from both sides without having to let someone else do it. I’d like to continue to work for British Gypsum as I’ve enjoyed my experience so far. I’m really impressed with the wealth of opportunities within the Saint-Gobain Group, but for now I’m just interested in becoming the best engineer I can be.