25 Oct 2021
Engineering Student Completes Apprenticeship at JJ Churchill
Second year undergraduate student Callum reflects on his summer apprenticeship with Precision Engineering company JJ Churchill.
JJ Churchill is a precision engineering company that produces bespoke parts for the power generation, aerospace, medical technology and defence industries. The company has over 80 years of experience, working closely with Sir Frank Whittle, inventor of the turbojet engine, in the 1930s.
The company has an apprenticeship scheme which is an opportunity for students to consolidate what they have learnt during their course and provides the chance to apply their skills within the workplace. Callum explains: "JJ Churchill’s Apprenticeship Scheme is excellent. The company recently won the LeicesterLive Business Award for ‘Apprenticeship Employer of the Year’ which motivated my application to work for them. The company’s Annual Placement Program sustainably builds their future workforce, and enables individuals to develop professionally and personally to improve their employment opportunities. I was lucky enough to have been one of four in their Annual Placement Program in 2021."
"The company’s Annual Placement Program sustainably builds their future workforce, and enables individuals to develop professionally and personally to improve their employment opportunities."
The apprenticeship helps broaden the horizons of future engineers, teaching and refining the skills learnt in their Engineering course. Callum explains how varied the role was during his time at the company and how his studies prepared him.
"My day-to-day work consisted of working on my project, which I led and managed, whilst also completing further tasks, such as constructing Standard Operating Procedures or developing an Education Initiative.
Throughout the week I met with my supervisor, the Director of Engineering and Sales, and with colleagues from the Engineering, Operations, and IT departments to discuss my progress and gather the information I needed to complete my work."
Studying Engineering Science as an undergraduate at Oxford equips students with a wide range of skills, covering a myriad of different areas as an overview for when they ultimately specialise later within their degree. Apprenticeships and Internships compliment studies by providing students with additional practical challenges where skills can be applied and tested which Callum found useful during his time.
"The apprenticeship challenged me practically by testing my business acumen and stretching my skills in leadership and management.
It took some time to understand professional relationships and the social structures that are present in a business environment. It was also new to me to be part of a team with clearly defined roles."
"The engineering course at Oxford prepared me for the personal and technical aspects of the role. During the course we frequently attempt difficult problems in a variety of disciplines, which helps you to become versatile in your thinking, and enabled me to complete various tasks in my internship. I was able to learn information and formulate solutions to the problems presented to me and work under time pressure efficiently. I enjoyed the challenge of a broad project due to my familiarity to the intense schedule and structure of my course."
"While the Engineering Science course at Oxford exposes you to the theoretical foundations of engineering, my apprenticeship at JJ Churchill, demonstrated innovative engineering and collaborative problem-solving in action. Practical knowledge and business skills are things that cannot be taught in a lecture theatre. I now understand how different the working world is to university and I appreciate the value of experience."
"I now have a greater understanding to better explore other career paths that suit my interests and skillset."
"The internship helped me improve my interpersonal, leadership and management skills. I feel more confident in the world of work because of the skills I developed and from directly experiencing real-life workplace situations."
Spending time in a workplace enables students to get an understanding of what their future careers may look like. Callum explains:
"As a second-year engineering student studying a variety of disciplines, there is so much choice it can be difficult to know which avenue to pursue. However, through the internship I now have a greater understanding to better explore other career paths that suit my interests and skillset. I greatly enjoyed the project I worked on. In the future, I would like to find even more challenging opportunities to get me further out of my comfort zone, perhaps outside of engineering.
JJ Churchill also provided me with the opportunity to enhance my research, investigation, problem-solving and management abilities which are transferable to future internships across any industry. I feel that I have taken a step towards pursuing a potential career in aerospace or precision engineering, but also in various other career paths."