Samantha Godsalve, 20, a former music student is now in her second year of an apprenticeship with an aerospace company, and she is loving it.
I finished school and did two years at college before I made up my mind to do an apprenticeship. At college I did maths, business studies and music. Before I joined this course I was a musician. I was in the top maths class at school and most of my classmates were musicians as well. Maths and music are quite closely linked and obviously maths and engineering are closely linked, although admittedly there isn’t much of a link between music and engineering.
I ended up in this field though and I am really enjoying it. I enjoyed everything I did at college, but I saw an advertisement in the paper for this course and that’s how I got interested. It’s the space industry, what better industry to get into. I applied and Astrium sent me some information, then brought me in for two or three interviews. We also had to do some team-building exercises to see how well we worked with others, because that’s important in this industry. I got called back as a final selection.
There are only 11 of us in the class and I think about 200 people applied – I am the only girl. I applied in January and it was a few months later when I found out – it was nerve-wracking waiting for the decision. In the first year of the course we were at college all year, doing maths- and science-based subjects, while two days a week we did practical work. In the workshop I was using a lathe and then other days I was working on electronic equipment. This year it is split up differently as I spend 10 weeks in the workplace and then five at college.
I took part in my first placement this year, and it was really good fun. I worked in assembly, integration and tests (AIT), physically building the satellites and testing them with computer software. They let me be really hands-on about it; I got to help out, and they taught me a lot. It was all in a clean room as well so I had to wear a nice blue suit. I worked in AIT with two other students; it’s normally one student in every other department.
For the next placement I move on to a different department – we cycle through all of them. In the first year our assessment is all at college. This year we get assessed at college and on our time in the work place, and our bosses say whether we have done a good job. We form good working relationships with our bosses as they are the ones who are showing us around.
For the next stage the company will either offer me a place or I will choose an area and they will tell me if there is a place available. Hopefully I will be able to choose an area I like within Astrium and they will have a position free – they are eager for us to have a place if there is one available. Overall the apprenticeship is good but it can be hard work. There is a lot involved with it, but it is really rewarding to think that you are working on something that not many people get the chance to take part in.