Daniel Clifford is a civil engineering apprentice at Transport for London. This is the first in a series of behind-the-scenes diaries of his apprenticeship to find out what it's really like to be a TfL apprentice.
What did you study? The subjects that I had chosen were slightly scattered. I was studying A-levels in Product Design and Media studies, with As level in ICT and Biology. I chose Product Design because it was the only subject closely related to any form of engineering or design programme that I could obtain at my school. The rest of my chosen subjects were mainly to acquire UCAS points and I could have selected them more carefully.
How did your exams go? My exams at school in both GCSE and A-level went quite well. I was never particularly stressed when studying for exams, although I tended to focus more attention on the core subjects and subjects that I was stronger in. I feel this may have been counter-productive to the final outcome and could have better distributed my attention amongst all subjects evenly.
What did you do after your exams? I left school at 18. I worked on a construction site as a labourer, trying to earn money and gain some independence whilst still figuring out how to properly get my foot in the door to engineering. It is a career goal I wanted to achieve from an early age.
Did you go to university? At 19 I applied to several universities and was accepted, but after a year of studying, I changed my mind.
Why choose an apprenticeship? I decided that I would try and gain access to the engineering world through a different route, and an apprenticeship seemed like the most sensible option to gain experience of a chosen career through on the job learning mixed with studies instead of all classroom work, as I personally benefit more from doing a job than reading about it. I searched online trying to find a suitable apprenticeship, there were many available at the time and easy to gather information on, although many of them had set start dates and if I had missed one I had my eye on I would have to wait another year before applications opened up again.
Why TfL? I was open to the idea of working with pretty much any employer that could provide me with the necessary information and tools to get where I wanted to be in my chosen field, but of course the bigger and more well known the employer, the better the opportunity would be. I heard about the TfL apprenticeship from an old school friend who had come through his career path on the same apprenticeship, so this intrigued me to go and do my own research online about it. I was impressed with the level of benefits that TfL were offering for first year apprentices with the prospects always improving as you progressed through, also having many friends that worked on the railway; it had always been something of an interest of mine, so I decided to apply.