National Apprenticeship Week: Farzana’s degree apprenticeship fits in perfectly with her ambitions
For National Apprenticeship Week, we are highlighting the work the University of South Wales does to support the growing number of students who choose to work while at the same time as studying for a degree
Last autumn Farzana Alam started a degree apprenticeship through USW-based Network 75, working as a trainee civil engineer for Cardiff firm Hydrock, an integrated engineering design, energy and sustainability consultancy. She explains why she decided to go down the degree apprenticeship route.
Tell us a bit about you
I was born and raised in Cardiff - mum and dad were originally from Bangladesh. I went to Fitzalan High School in Cardiff and did three A-levels - maths, physics and PE, and got an A* and two As.
Why did you decide that attending university full-time wasn’t for you?
Throughout GCSE and sixth form, I had the idea that I didn’t want to go to university full-time, I wanted to do something extra that didn’t just involve studying all the time.
I feel like study can be too repetitive and I wanted to experience something beyond that, added skills beyond studying. With the degree apprenticeship you learn extra things outside of uni study, the foundations of working, which is very important to me and which I can build on.
When I was in sixth form, I did a part-time job alongside my A-levels, so I’ve gotten used to that kind of work-life balance and how to manage my time.
How did you get involved with Hydrock?
Growing up, I knew I wanted to go into engineering and so in sixth form I just randomly emailed a list of engineering companies for work experience opportunities. The majority of them didn’t reply, but Hydrock got in touch and offered me work experience for a week, and also access to their programme promoting women in STEM.
At the same time I was looking for apprenticeships, but Hydrock had none available in Cardiff. It was then that I heard about Network 75 through my PE teacher. With Network75 being a combined work placement and part-time study route to a degree, it was exactly what I was looking for.
It sounded perfect for me, and then I discovered that Hydrock was a host company with Network75.
Funnily enough, I got a call about the role when I was still in school. I was in the middle of a maths lesson when I got the call from Hydrock offering a place on the apprenticeship scheme, and started in August 2023, with the study starting a month later.
What would you say are the benefits of Network 75?
Going to university full-time was a Plan B for me, so doing a degree apprenticeship or starting work after school was going to be the route I would take.
Network 75 is good in supporting and accommodating, and I’m enjoying it so far. The staff are very helpful when we’re in uni for the two days a week we study there.
Also, I feel they are really invested in helping me to make a success of my study and work, especially my host company. If I have any questions, they’re there with an answer as soon as possible.
After my degree, I’m hoping to go on to do a Masters and to becoming a Chartered Engineer. I’ve gotten this idea through working which I’ve never considered before until now and I think is a good goal for my future career.
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