Cohort: 2 - Second Year Undergraduate
Hometown: Armagh, Northern Ireland
When I was planning what to do after A Levels I was excited to move to England or Scotland to study at at University in a big City. Product design Engineering in particular appealed to me, with Glasgow being my UCAS first choice. It wasn't until after I applied through UCAS that I heard about degree-apprenticeships. While the social and sports aspects of a big university appealed to me, I chose The Dyson Institute of Engineering and Technology because it offered me a paid salary, no tuition fees, and an experience that no other institution could rival. I planned ways of compensating for the things I might have missed out on, such as joining local sports teams and moving into Bristol in my second year.
In a way the Dyson Village is similar to university halls; living beside all my friends was so much fun and we got to know each other really well. But unlike my friends' student accommodation, the Dyson Village is absolute luxury. That's definitely the nicest bedroom I'll have for a long time! Another bonus was having the Dyson gym right beside us meaning we could go whenever we wanted. I've now moved out to Bristol and love the independence. There's so much going on, especially for students, which makes it a great to meet new people and for old friends to come visit.
I was surprised to find that students here are so varied. Many, like me, hadn't done any engineering previously and I was pleased to meet others (in such a small cohort) who had similar hobbies like art or hockey. With a dedicated social team and funding, I found social life at the institute to be packed, with a really good variety of stuff to do. Living in Bristol now I go out most weekends, but do stay after work in Malmesbury some evenings for institute events such as a table quiz or art session.
Having work or study everyday has forced me to learn good time management; something that I definitely didn't have before! First year was tough, and it was hard to find the time to study with all the fun stuff going on, but now I make sure to use the study day well so I don't need to do work on the weekends. I've been surprised to find interest in topics I knew nothing about before. It's hard to maintain concentration for a full day of lectures, but when you can apply it in the workplace it becomes worthwhile. I also expected work to be impossible. While the workplace is challenging, it's really satisfying when you can contribute to real projects. I've picked up so many other skills in the workplace too that I hadn't considered before, and think I'll be really confident going into other jobs in the future.
We also have so much support. Student support is embedded into the programme, and to meet regularly with our designated year group support advisors means you talk about issues as they appear rather than just when something goes wrong.
Not paying tuition fees and earning a salary is really freeing! Any 'student life' that we might not be able to experience is made up for with the fact the we can afford to do fun things on the weekend or go away in the breaks. I'm looking forward to what I can do after university, without being tied down to get a job straight away.