uni technical college norfolk

UTCN Successes.
Success Stories Joanna's Success Story.

I received offers to study Engineering at Trinity College Cambridge, but I turned that down for the Dyson Institute Engineering Degree Apprenticeship, working as an Undergraduate Engineer whilst studying for a Bachelors degree in Engineering with Warwick University (WMG).

chose UTCN because it had the perfect balance of academics, practical skills and industry/professional links. There was no better environment for me to learn, develop and succeed in. I knew that in going to UTCN my horizons would broaden, that I could explore new possibilities and that I could achieve far more (both academically and professionally) than I would have done elsewhere.

The highlight of my time at UTCN has to be project managing a 3D/VR Windfarm engineering program with Vattenfall. Leading workshops alongside my peers in both the UK (to students from all across Norfolk) and the Netherlands was a developmental experience like no other. Being able to present our ideas about topics including investment into the next generation of engineers and closing the skills gap at Vattenfall’s NL head office will also be one of my most treasured professional experiences for many years to come.

UTCN opened my eyes to careers in engineering, before I started I knew that my passion was maths, but I didn’t know where that could take me. Due to UTCN’s support, I had work experience placements with BT, Shell, AVIVA and Canham Consulting, as well as engineering oriented courses with BAE, Imperial, Warwick and Royal Holloway University I discovered the breadth of careers and future options that were available. These opportunities made me realise that I wanted to continue my journey in a dynamic, creative environment and that I learnt best when I could see the theory being applied into live projects where change is crucial for development. The Dyson Institute displayed that it had all of these attributes, where traditional University options didn’t, so I knew that it was the perfect fit for me.

Other than the experiences I mentioned above, I think there were two main things that really helped my applications for degree level engineering courses. The first being that I had an A-Level in Maths before applying, I started my maths A-Level at UTCN alongside my GCSEs in year 11. The second being awarded an Arkwright scholarship in year 11. The vigorous application and selection process of the competitive scholarship was an incredible experience, preparing me for both University academic interviews and more technical degree apprenticeship interviews. As a scholar, I received funding and contacts that helped me get to where I am today. The scholarship was something that I had never heard of before attending UTCN and being identified as an engineering leader of the future in this way was a great differentiator for my applications.

Whilst my place to study Engineering at Trinity College, University of Cambridge was my dream University place, I knew that I didn’t want to study for four years without seeing any advancement in industry, I knew that the intense academic environment wasn’t the best place for me to develop or to contribute to society. University might be the best fit for many, the Cambridge experience may also be, but for me I knew I would not be as happy as I could be elsewhere.
I feel incredibly fortunate to have discovered my dream career at 18 and to start my journey at one of the industry leaders in the UK, something that in four years time I may not have otherwise been able to do (given the advancing nature of degree apprenticeships relative to graduate roles in certain areas of the engineering industry).

For students looking at their next steps I would say prioritise what you enjoy and no where you learn/develop best, as that is where you will thrive. When applying for University, Degree Apprenticeships and Jobs, make sure that you are a good fit for the course/role that you are applying for, but also that the course provider/employer is a good fit for you, especially when deciding between offers. Most importantly, take every opportunity that you can, work hard and build your network. You never know how far one opportunity could take you, or what passions you may discover along the way.

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