Spotlight on Talent – Jaida Gordon-Smith
Studied: Level 3 Business and Marketing
Progression: Degree Apprenticeship in Project Management
At the age of 20, Jaida takes pride in being in position where she is earning money, has her own place and is in the first year of a Degree Apprenticeship. This is through her role as project officer with engineering company, Atkins Ltd.
She began working for them in summer 2021, almost immediately after finishing a Level 3 business and marketing course at Walsall College where she achieved D*D*D*.
Not only was Jaida quick to start her position, she was quick to apply for it.
“I knew university wasn’t for me, so I started applying for Apprenticeships in September 2020, as I went into year two of my course,” said Jaida. “I figured it was important to get some application and interview practice in. Plus, I didn’t want to miss out on any opportunities that companies were offering at that time.”
At first Jaida’s progress was slow. This was because she was yet to finish her studies. The pandemic also meant that Apprenticeship offers were limited. Her perseverance paid off when she caught the attention of the central Birmingham-based office of Atkins.
After taking part in an Assessment Centre process, followed by a final interview, Jaida was offered a position with the Project Delivery Practice.
“I made sure I stood out at my interview by putting across my personality and the different skills I’d developed through the part-time jobs I’d had during college,” said Jaida. “I’d worked in retail and hospitality before. While these aren’t directly linked to engineering or project planning, I was able to show how I’d improved my confidence and professionalism, including being a good worker and someone willing to learn and improve.”
She continued: “I was also lucky to speak to an existing apprentice at Atkins. They advised me to just be myself. Then, when I researched the company before my interview, I felt such a personal connection that it helped me perform well on the day.”
Jaida’s role involves supporting project managers; completing different tasks such as ensuring that engineering work being carried out stays on budget, while responding quickly to any requests for additional funding.
“I have lot of freedom with my work,” added Jaida. “Not just being able to work from home if I need to, but also going on site to see how a project is progressing. This reiterates the on-the-job, practical and creative qualities I first found so appealing about an Apprenticeship.”
“It really has set up my future.”