Umar Malik, 22, is a civil engineering degree apprentice at AECOM, studying at Liverpool John Moores University. He has already achieved the EngTech MICE professional qualification with the Institution of Civil Engineers as part of his apprenticeship
How did you get into civil engineering?
During my time at college, I attended a presentation delivered by AECOM’s technical director. He explained what civil engineering was and why it was a great career choice. At the end of the presentation, he handed out business cards urging people to get in touch if they felt like they had a genuine interest in the field. I had a general interest in engineering at the time, having spent time in the workshop at high school, but I was not sure on what path I would take following college. I took his card regardless, knowing he may prove to be a valuable contact in the future.
Once I completed my A-Levels with underwhelming results, I took a year out of education and spent my time working a minimum wage job in a warehouse. During my time there, I realised I could very easily fall into the trap of becoming too comfortable and never leaving, so I set out to find something to develop my potential.
It was then by chance I came across the business card in my wallet one night, despite it being nearly a year since I met him. I knew that if I played my cards right, I could potentially get my foot through the door at AECOM.
Having worked in a warehouse environment for so long and having no solid background in engineering, naturally I was low in confidence and began to question what I would even say to the director. With a lot of thought, I crafted an email explaining my current situation, how I was genuinely keen to learn more about civil engineering, and asking if I could potentially visit the office and meet the team.
To my surprise I received a response the next day from AECOM asking to set up a phone call. After a brief call, I was offered a paid summer internship working in the technical director’s team. I was elated to discover this and quit my job the next morning.
How did your internship lead on to a civil engineering apprenticeship?
Once I started my internship, I did everything I could to demonstrate my interest and ability. Six weeks in, I was offered a full-time position as a degree apprentice at AECOM.
What have you gained from your apprenticeship?
Within 18 months, I had received Engineering Technician accreditation (EngTech MICE) with the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE).
In 2019, I came runner up in a national competition for the New Civil Engineer Apprentice of the Year.
My life has made such a dramatic turn in such a short space of time, and all of this came down to showing the initiative and making a phone call when the time was right. This is the message I have taken to many schools I have visited, to entice other prospective engineers to explore our field. I feel that you are capable of anything if you put your heart and mind into it.
Would you recommend a civil engineering apprenticeship?
Civil engineering is a field in which you will meet people from all walks of life and from all over the world. You are actively playing a role to improve your surroundings. I can’t think of many other careers that can offer that.
In my opinion, a degree apprenticeship is the perfect mix of practical experience and education that will develop you into a highly trained, capable engineer at a greater pace than the normal route of attending university alone. It is what has enabled me to come so far in such a short span of time.
To find out more about civil engineering apprenticeships, visit ice.org.uk/future#apprenticeships