You meet graduates at Heathrow Airport with all levels of work experience, including people who have none. Personally, I had already gained quite a bit before joining. While studying for a Bachelors of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Brighton, I did a year-long placement with a company that specialises in cutting-edge control systems. I then spent 18 months working as an electrical and electronic repair and test technician after graduating. I saw it as an opportunity to go beyond what I’d learned at university and expand my practical skills.
What attracted me to Heathrow? The sheer vastness of the operation. That, and the variety of functions that combine to make it all possible. I think it can offer me a range of opportunities I would struggle to find elsewhere. I also like the idea of being part of a globally recognised and respected enterprise, especially one that has such a significant impact on so many people.
The work I’ve been doing in my first few months has been extremely satisfying. Since joining in September, I have been training with Heathrow apprentices at Kingston College to make sure I understand all the skills they need to do the job. The classes correspond to an NVQ in Engineering Maintenance and involve us doing lots of practical work. I have been proud of my efforts so far, especially when a group of us – all from different technical backgrounds – managed to repair and run a 40-year-old engine. It was dirty work but I had great fun doing it!
My three-day corporate induction was another highlight. I got to meet people from many different functions and we had a “backstage” tour of the airport. It really drove home just how much goes on – and how well people work together to make it happen. Also, being perched on a rooftop near the runway during a landing is an exhilarating experience which I suspect never gets old!
I can’t wait to get stuck into the programme proper. The more placements the better, as far as I am concerned. I am excited about understanding the business from many different functions and being part of slotting them together. I also plan to apply for chartership with the IMechE in the next few years. It’s invaluable to me to know that this is supported by the business – it gives me confidence that, as long as I keep working hard, I will be able to make the progress I need to become a professional engineer.