Sophie studied Engineering as a mature student before progressing to an apprenticeship after her first year. Currently working with manufacturer Tharsus, she hopes to undertake an HND and then a degree.

In 2020 Sophie was named National Apprentice Rising Star at the Make UK Awards.

BTEC Level 3 Subsidiary Diploma in Engineering and EAL PEO 1 in Machining.

Originally I had elected to study Renewable Energy Engineering, however, this course was not available due to intake levels. I then decided to switch to General Engineering under the advisement of the tutors at Northumberland College.

I chose to study at Northumberland College as it was suitably located for commuting and, as a mature student, offered the best options for me. I decided to pursue an apprenticeship after my first year because I felt I needed to have more work based experience and the option to earn whilst learning was more beneficial to me.

The breadth and detail of the course content was amazing. What I learned at college really set me above the other apprentices in my intake at Tharsus and helped me to complete all assignments to the highest level.

The tutors really made sure you understood the content and really challenged you to do the best work possible.

The college atmosphere, for me was a little different, as a mature student I was very course focused. However, using the canteen and outdoor spaces during breaks and socialising with others on my course was a fantastic break from work.

The trips to Hitachi Rail, Blyth Docks and Eggar were really beneficial. It really highlighted the options available after leaving college and definitely helped in my decision to follow an apprenticeship route.

I think tutors talking about their previous careers during lessons and relating the content to first hand experience was really inspiring. It showed that the topics we were learning had real world practical applications.

The best advise I recieved was ‘Go for it, dont let other perceptions hold you back’. If it wasn’t for that, I wouldn’t have applied for my apprenticeship and would have never had such outstanding success in my career at Tharsus.

You can achieve outstanding results at college but be prepared to work hard, its a big leap from being spoon fed information at school.

Challenging. Enjoyable. Confidence-building.

I am currently in my second year apprenticeship with Tharsus. Once completed I will be undertaking an HND and then Degree.

My biggest achievement to date is winning the Make UK National Apprentice Rising Star Award 2020.

Working at Tharsus has allowed me to shine in my chosen career and I have now received a national accolade for my hard work.

The subsidiary diploma and advice from the tutors helped me to see that an apprenticeship was the ideal route for me. My D* grade achieved at college stood me head and shoulders above other candidates and helped secure my place in the company.

As a mature student at college, it really helped me to mark out a new path in life and I want to say a big thank you to Keith, Fraser and Freeman in the Engineering Team who helped guide me into my current career.

Student success stories

Maths and English for a Successful Future

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