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Orion laser facility

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Working at AWE

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Before you apply

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Robert, High performance computing (HPC) apprentice

What made you choose an apprenticeship? 
I worked in retail for 8 years after I left college. I decided quite early into that time that I wanted to go into IT and technology, but was lacking the qualifications and time to get into it. It was very hard for me to get the time to study while working 40 hours a week in a shop. When I was told AWE were looking for HPC Apprentices I jumped at the opportunity. I’d finally have the time to study something I was passionate about, and gain important qualifications for my career.

Why did you choose AWE?
I have family that work at AWE and the apprenticeship scheme is known to be one of the best in the UK. There is dedicated support, staff and facilities for us. We are at the forefront of technology, and I get to experience that first hand through the work I do. Also, AWE work towards the defence of the UK, which I’m proud to be a part of.

What does a typical day look like? 
I am currently placed out on site, working with system administrators of our supercomputer systems. Every day is different, depending on what’s needed. I’m in control of how I learn, so generally I shadow the staff here, find out what common problems are and how to fix them. I also have my own personal learning goals which they support me in achieving.

What is the best thing about your job?
I love working on computers. This is the dream job for me, as I get to learn and work in something I really enjoy. My favourite thing about the job is that my colleagues are incredibly passionate and knowledgeable in their fields. So if I’m exploring a certain subject and have a question, I always get a really detailed answer which I’ll learn a lot from. I’m a very dedicated learner, so that is perfect for me.

How do you see your career developing?
My short term career goal is to pass the apprenticeship and gain a permanent place on the HPC team. My long term career goal is to become specialised in a certain area, and to do a degree.

What advice would you give to someone who was thinking about an apprenticeship at AWE?
I was stuck in a boring, unfulfilling job in retail. All my friends were getting HNDs and I was stuck selling phones. I felt like I was too old to gain any new qualifications. My advice would be that you’re never too old to learn something new. You’re not stuck. If anything, maturity is an absolute blessing when going into an apprenticeship. Don’t settle for a job you hate because you don’t think you can do better.  For an aspiring apprentice – do not expect things to be put on your plate for you. An apprenticeship gives you all the tools you need to learn, but if you don’t grab it by the horns, you’ll get nothing from it. Ask questions, push your boundaries, and don’t fear the unknown.
 

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