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Are you wondering what it’s like to be an apprentice at Jaguar Land Rover?

Here is Digital and Technology Solutions Degree Apprentice Lauren with an insight into her experiences of life at JLR:

“Before starting at JLR I naturally wondered whether I would be able to make an immediate contribution in the broad range of projects I would be working on. Looking to a software course such as the DTS stream, I questioned if it would all be coding related or if I’d be given the opportunity to diversify and develop new skills.

I had studied Python in GCSE Computing and knew this was going to feature on the course. In A-Level Product Design, I had progressively advanced my skills in CAD programs such as Fusion 360 and a project opportunity soon appeared enabling me to use these skills in designing and fabricating a jig to allow the testing of ECUs. From this, CAD has become an important part of my job.

Making a true difference in the business was something I was looking forward to before I joined. When focusing on smaller scale projects, you may feel as though your work doesn’t contribute, but it all adds up to the bigger picture and I’ve been directly involved in real world vehicle software development.

Before my apprenticeship journey, I also wondered if I’d be thrown in at the deep end as I’d just finished A-Levels at school and so still very much learning despite work experience placements in both automotive and aerospace industries. When I joined, I was supported via informal inductions and tours from older apprentices etc. It can be daunting at first, but my team was on hand to support swift learning and integration.

The transition from A-Levels to university lectures felt smoother than the move from GCSE to A-Level with the teaching level being taxing where necessary. Of course, we currently study via online lectures which I have enjoyed because we can still collaborate in smaller groups, with assessments having a more coursework-based content, but they still have sufficient challenge.

It is quite an adjustment to go from face to face learning to using Teams and I did think that the collaboration opportunities might reduce however if anything, I’ve collaborated with a lot more people on a lot more projects since working remotely. That said, I have learnt through lockdown that it is crucial to develop a good work-life balance when working from home. I have sometimes continued working beyond the usual office hours, but it is good to switch off and have a proper break to take care and be productive in your actual working hours.”

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It’s a great environment to ask questions and develop myself.

Software Engineer Jack Young talks about the responsibility that Jaguar Land Rover has given in during his apprenticeship:

“Of all the apprenticeships I applied for, JLR was the first interview I attended and ended up being my top choice so I’m incredibly grateful to have been given the opportunity to work here.

I have always been a bit of a geek, having studied Computer Science at both GCSE and A Level. I tend to always get drawn to the techy side of things, even while working as a lifeguard I seemed to assume the role of tech support so it’s not surprising that I have ended up where I am.

I have always been keen to learn about and have the latest technology. Jaguar Land Rover really helps me fulfil that desire. We are more than just are a car company now and it shows in the work that I have been doing; it feels great to be able to push such an iconic company further towards the future.

It has been difficult to keep up with all the new technologies being used within the company and adapting my basic knowledge of programming to the automotive world, but everyone at JLR and the University of Warwick have provided a great environment to ask questions and develop myself. I have already had the opportunity to lead a feature’s development from a marketing idea all the way to designing the software; I struggle to believe many companies would let a first year apprentice do work like this. It is amazing how much responsibility I have been given having only been here for 16 months.

On the other side of things, I was invited to talk on two podcasts and even speak on a panel at the Higher & Degree Apprenticeships Conference in December 2019. Within 4 months of starting the course, I was given the opportunity to network with people from many different industries and job roles and it has been a great way to develop myself.

There has been a great balance of technical and professional development and I have really appreciated that.”

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There’s always someone to talk to.

Ellen, one of our DTS Apprentices in Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) tells us about one of her favourite parts of life at JLR:

“I was keen to get involved with the apprentice forum since I first started at JLR. They hosted a great tour around Gaydon for us and set us up in a ‘Buddy system’ so we had an older apprentice to talk to.

Unfortunately, at the time, this was limited to just the EVE (electrical and vehicle) department so I knew some friends of mine had missed out. This is what inspired me to get involved in the forum so that we could expand our outreach to future apprentices in all departments. I was able to get involved as both the social rep and as one of the two DTS reps.

This has been one of my favourite parts of joining the business as I have been able to meet many more people than I otherwise would have. So far this year, my friend and I have set up a cohort wide buddy system and organised a small, socially distanced meet up for the new apprentices. In the future, I hope to organise a variety of activities/sports events/nights out/learning/relaxing events for apprentices in all years.”

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I love the fact that I get paid to learn.

Claudia, one of our Digital and Technology Solutions Degree Apprentices in Infotainment talks about her experience so far of working at Jaguar Land Rover.

“I’m a bit of a car freak, so wanting to work here was something that was high on my priority list. I’m not a brilliant abstract learner. What I mean by that is that I need to see and touch what I’m working on to understand it. JLR is brilliant in this respect, because I work in the infotainment area of development, which focuses on the experience our customers have in the vehicle.

Oh, and getting to take the cars home really helps. There are so many funky features on our vehicles it’s ridiculous. So I test the cars when I have them to see how my ideas work. And then report back on any suggestions for improvement.

We all think like a customer. That way we can imagine the excitement they feel when they buy one of our range of cars. The range of vehicles is amazing. But so are the range of people and roles that all work together to create the future of the car.

The investment in the people and the place we work is staggering. On any given project I’m surrounded by experts in all areas of tech. And I’m supported by a team and manager who help me do my best work.

They all understand that I’m here to learn. But I love the fact that I get paid to learn rather than at University where I could get into real debt.

Our customers want everything in their cars to make their life easier. What I love about working here is how hard everyone works to achieve this goal. It’s the perfect balance of challenge and support that I rate so highly.”

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I never considered a career within software.

With very little experience in coding, find out why Brennan, our Digital and Technology Solutions Degree Apprentice on the Software with Data pathway applied for the role:

“Originally, I never considered a career within software, I had very little coding ability. I was always set on a career in the automotive industry, but within mechanical engineering instead. Whilst looking around universities and degree apprenticeship opportunities, I spoke to some representatives for JLR’s Digital Technology Solutions degree apprenticeship at the University of Warwick WMG open day. Initially I dismissed the apprenticeship as I previously never considered software as a career path.

However, after listening to the presentations about the course, my eyes were opened to the vast range of opportunities that this apprenticeship would offer now and especially in the future.

My passion for the future of cars also led me to write an EPQ at the time, focusing on the development of cars through autonomous technology, electrification and much more.

Through researching into these technological advancements, I realised that taking this great opportunity would prepare me to become skilled and experienced in an evolving car industry actively shifting towards these technologies.

Looking back, I am incredibly thankful that I came to this realisation and I took the DTS apprenticeship opportunity. Despite me having only a low level of competence with writing code at the start of the course, this did not hinder me at all as this apprenticeship is much more than writing code. I have learnt so much through university and work even within my first year at the business. I have even had the privilege to collaborate with research, working on technologies that are five or more years ahead of their release. This experience further cements in my mind that I made the right choice going for this apprenticeship as when the future of the automotive industry is here, I will have the competence to thrive.”