To celebrate the role of Science in Manufacturing, we spoke to Eleanor King, Electrical Maintenance Technician at ConocoPhillips to find out more about her career journey so far.
As a young adult, I was always told that in order to succeed I had to attend university and obtain a degree. However, after finishing my A-Levels, I realised that this was not the path I wanted to take. I began to explore different routes and chose to pursue an apprenticeship as an electrical maintenance technician. This decision was influenced by my father’s experience in the field, and the opportunity provided a way to secure a great role whilst learning on the job.
Despite lacking knowledge and experience in the field, I decided to apply for the apprenticeship. It was a daunting experience, as I had no idea what to expect regarding my daily duties and environment. I was apprehensive about being the only female on the course in a male-dominated industry. However, I was determined to push myself out of my comfort zone.
Once I began my apprenticeship, I was thoroughly impressed by the technical and physical aspects of the role. I enjoyed learning why we perform certain tasks and the hands-on nature of the job. Despite being the only female apprentice and technician at the time, I received great support from my colleagues who treated me no differently from anyone else.
One of the biggest difficulties I faced during my journey was the lack of support for apprenticeships compared to that of university degrees. Most parents, friends, and family encouraged their kids to attend university, leaving many feeling uncertain about the value of an apprenticeship. However, the experience of learning on the job and earning a wage from day one has provided me with independence, valuable knowledge, and career experience in the field I am interested in pursuing.
As a maintenance technician apprentice, the day-to-day tasks are varied and can range from planned maintenance to faults and breakdowns on the equipment. Nevertheless, with good communication from supervisors and training centres, apprentices like myself get an opportunity to learn about the various tasks involved and become comfortable with the work.
I strongly recommend an apprenticeship for those who are interested in working in technical roles and the experience of learning on the job. Although I was initially apprehensive, the opportunity provided me with invaluable training and mentorship, allowing me to become a skilled and confident technician.Eleanor King
One of the most attractive aspects of an apprenticeship is the opportunity to progress onto higher levels; this was made even more evident to me after completing my HNC. The option to progress onto a degree whilst already working in my career field is not to be overlooked.