By Miranda Reilly 
Harry Kachika, Apprentice Mechanical Technician

Harry started his apprenticeship about a year ago after studying maths and engineering at college. He enjoys every day of it and the people he works around. In the future, he’d like to use his experience to go abroad wherever his work takes him.

·          Hi, Harry. Could you start by telling us a bit about yourself, do you have any particular hobbies?
I go to the gym a lot, and I play basketball daily. I go out sometimes, not that much. I’m very active.

·         What is your apprenticeship, and how far into it are you?
I’m a year and a bit into it now; it’s three years long. I’m an Apprentice Mechanical Technician.

·         What are you hoping to do once it’s finished?
I’m hoping to stay here for a bit; in the future… I’d like to branch out, maybe go abroad.

·         Any particular country?
Not a particular one, wherever it takes me!

·         Can you talk us through an average day here?
Right now I’m working on my project, but usually academics from different departments come into the workshops with drawings, asking us to make things for them. I use a lot of different machines – CNC [Computer Numerical Control], lays, drills, grinders.

·         What are you doing for your project?
I’m making a typing machine.

·         Did you get much free choice in that, or was the project assigned to you?
It was a free choice, but it was also a mutual decision between me and my supervisor about what would be best.

·         What are your supervisor and other people overseeing you like?
They’re really helpful, I think – they’re understanding that you’re an apprentice, so you don’t know everything, so they have to be very patient but at the same time they challenge you. I think they’re really good people.

·         Did you always want to go into this career, or were you unsure?
I always wanted to go into engineering, yeah. Not this specifically, but definitely engineering.

·         What were you doing before you started here?
I was at college, studying maths and engineering.

·         Did your college talk about apprenticeships much?
Not really, they were more on the uni side of things – I found out about apprenticeships myself, really.

·         So how did you find out about Oxford’s apprenticeships?
I found it on the apprenticeships website. It was a fairly easy application process, pretty straightforward.

·         And has it been how you expected it to be or has it surprised you?
I don’t know what I was expecting, since I didn’t know what apprenticeships were like, but I’ve had previous jobs so I was expecting to work independently, but wasn’t expecting how easy it would be.

·         What skills and experience do you think you’ve gained?
I’ve definitely gained more confidence, people skills; I’m better at working by myself as well as in a team, I’m more punctual – I’ve learned a lot of mechanical engineering skills as well. I think it’s a good experience, a good opportunity for people not looking to go to uni.

·     What would you say to other departments who are considering hiring apprentices but aren’t sure?
I think it would be a good idea: more people are going into apprentices, and if the department want their knowledge to keep growing when the older guys retire, they should take on apprentices. Apprentices gain knowledge from the people who are already there and can carry on when they leave.

·         Any other thoughts?
Give it a go, man. Even if the apprenticeship’s not the one you want, you can always switch: working at the university means that you can try out different departments if you’re not feeling the one you’re at.

·         Have you explored any other departments yourself?
Not other departments, but I have explored other engineering buildings. I would like to go see others, though.  

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Created by Sophie Bebb, University of Oxford Apprentice at the Said Business School.

Managed by Frances Murray, Apprentice Librarian Assistant at the Bodleian Libraries, and Megan Janes, Apprenticeship Administration and Communications Apprentice.