What’s it really like to be an Apprentice Design Technician in the rail industry? Faisal Kishtini tells his story.

Ever considered working in the rail industry? There are several routes in, including through an apprenticeship. Plotr caught up with apprentice design technician Faisal to find out more about his job.

Faisal knew he wanted to be an engineer. When he was looking for some work experience, a friend who was also an apprentice at Arcadis Consulting asked whether he was interested in more than a one week work placement and said it would be a good idea to apply for the apprenticeship scheme. Faisal went for it and, after an interview, was accepted onto the scheme. Faisal is now involved with many different elements of railway engineering, including site visits and CAD drawings.

Tell us about your job…

I work at Arcadis Consulting, a global design and consultancy firm. I work in the York office which focuses on the rail industry as a whole, with just about every sector of rail ranging from Civil, Electrical and Mechanical, PWay (permanent way), signalling and OLE (overhead line equipment).

On a typical day, I spend time designing new or existing structures using computer-aided design (CAD). I work together with an engineer to come up with the designs and drawings. I have worked on bridges and subways. These could be structures that have been there for a long time, but need to be supported so that they don’t collapse for fail. I draw the structures and then, with the help of the engineer, design the details and components needed to support the structure.

What are the best bits about your job?

The best bit about my job is working with experienced engineers. I have worked on many different projects and have learnt a lot about the civil and structural side of engineering. I came into the company with no engineering background and I feel like I have developed a lot and have made an impact too.

I also enjoy the opportunity to go on site and meet with contractors and individuals also working on the same project. It gives me an insight into what is happening out of the office and is a fantastic opportunity to go and learn new things and ask plenty of questions too!

What 3 top skills of qualities are important in your job?

  1. Communication – this is the most important skill. Without communication no work will get done well and no one will understand what they’re doing.
  2. Time management – without managing time and planning when work is going to be done, you’ll end up overloaded with work and it will all be delayed and not to the correct standard.
  3. Imagination – you’ll need to be able to visualise things. Over time, you’ll learn with experience and build your understanding of the work and what needs to be done.

How did you get -into doing this as your job?

I got my job through a friend’s recommendation. I was doing my AS levels at the time and was looking for some work experience within engineering. He was an apprentice at Arcadis Consulting and recommended that I applied for the scheme too. I got an email a few weeks later inviting me for interview and was accepted as an apprentice design technician!

What subjects did you love at school?

I loved engineering and maths. I particularly loved engineering as my teacher was very motivational and heavily impacted me by inspiring and motiving me to pursue a career in engineering. I also did extra curricular engineering activities – the VEX robotics competition and also F1 in school. These activities gave me a small insight to what an engineer’s life would involve.

Want to know more about STEM clubs at school? Read this!

What advice would you give someone who wants to do your job?

If you want a job like mine then you must be willing to learn and spend time developing your skills. You’ll also have to put in effort and show you would like to learn, otherwise you’ll get left behind - meaning engineers and managers will not let you work on more complicated and challenging projects.

Give us your best CV/interview/job hunting tips!

  • Do some research
  • Show your passion
  • Be yourself, don’t pretend to know things you don’t and go into an interview with no understanding.

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