My journey to an F1 engineering apprenticeship

Former UTC Oxfordshire student Tiffany, is now in the second year of her four-year engineering apprenticeship with Williams Formula 1 (F1).

Representing Williams F1 at UTC Oxfordshire’s Careers Showcase and Open Event, we took five minutes out with Tiffany to find out what she is up to…

“I will be spending two years rotating around different departments in the factory and then will choose which one I’d like to work in during my third year, ready to begin in year four. One day a week, I will be at Newbury College doing a Higher National Diploma (HND) and Higher National Certificate (HNC), and possibly a degree at the end. Then who knows, we can even go on to do a Masters.”

Tiffany’s route to find her dream apprenticeship wasn’t easy, having suffered various setbacks along the way. However, her persistence and drive led to her securing two prestigious apprenticeships at the same time, giving her a tough choice.

“When I was younger, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I joined college to study sport but soon found that the college wasn’t right for me, so I left to study Art and Design. During the first year, we had a days’ experience of working with engineers, and from that moment, things changed. I soon found myself on an engineering course. One day, my dad (who works at Culham) came home with a leaflet about a new UTC opening in Didcot that specialised in science and engineering. I knew I needed to sign up, even though it meant changing mid-course.”

“The UTC had already opened and the year had started. I contacted them and sent across my CV. I liked that the way you applied for this UTC was the same way you would apply for a job; it was advanced. Luckily, I was accepted and carried on my advanced engineering course.”

“With the advice and guidance from a role model of mine, Richard Hurrell (UTC Oxfordshire’s Director of Engineering), I applied for a three-month paid work experience placement with Williams F1. He taught me the importance of gaining experience and anything that would make your CV stand out and open doors. Now, as an apprentice, I stress this so much to younger generations to apply for as much experience as you can get, and make those connections!”

“After the three month placement, I found myself back at the UTC. I began applying for apprenticeships, with two in mind that I really wanted; Williams F1 or BMW Mini. For so long I had to gain extra tuition for maths as it was my weakness and it meant I failed the online tests more than once. I almost didn’t apply again to BMW Mini because I was so embarrassed. Instead, I persevered. I studied and studied and even wrote scripts so that I could memorise it all. I finally passed and was finally offered an apprenticeship with BMW Mini. After all my attempts, I had secured it.”

“At this time, I was still waiting for applications to Williams F1 to open (this wouldn’t be until later in the year) so I had a dilemma. I talked it over with our Principal, Owain, who emailed Williams F1 to let them know of my situation. After two previous rejections from Williams, they then also offered me an apprenticeship with them! I eventually chose to join Williams F1.”

“If I hadn’t have come to the UTC, I wouldn’t have got the work placement. The work hours, the employer-led projects they run, it all helps you to understand the way you need to be thinking and what is expected of you. I would highly recommend this UTC to anyone.”

“To any students, I also recommend gaining as much work experience as you physically can. There will be thousands of candidates and you need to stand out.”

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