Case study

Apprentice environmental consultant — Martha Smith

After passing her GCSEs and achieving A-levels in physics, maths and product design, Martha embarked on a degree apprenticeship with WSP, where she works as an undergraduate environmental consultant

Why did you decide on a degree apprenticeship in environmental consultancy?

The increasing issue of climate change and the relationship between the built and natural environments fascinated me. I wanted to explore this relationship and discover innovative ways we can use infrastructure to help combat climate change.

Choosing to undertake a degree apprenticeship has been the best decision I could have made as I feel like I can make an impact in this fight for our planet's future.

How did you find and apply for your apprenticeship with WSP?

I explored Unifrog's site and then used GOV.UK's apprenticeship page to search for degree-level apprenticeships in the environmental consultancy sector.

How does the apprenticeship work?

I'm on a five-year apprenticeship where I study once a week at Kingston University and work the other four days. My apprenticeship has a 20% off-the-job and 80% on-the-job structure. After these five years, I'll have my end-point assessment (EPA) and become qualified.

In my apprenticeship, I'm part of the earth and environment team at WSP. I get to rotate between the various teams within WSP's environmental sector every six months. I've spent time in environmental assessment and consents (EAC), sustainability and am now in the landscape architecture team.

What do you enjoy about your apprenticeship?

I chose an apprenticeship because I didn't want to go to university, but still wanted to achieve a degree. In my degree apprenticeship, I get the best of both worlds as I'm able to study, build my knowledge and learn from professionals while gaining invaluable workplace experience.

What's the most challenging part of your apprenticeship?

It's been the step between leaving sixth form and entering the working world. While the change was challenging, it taught me to be more time efficient.

What support have you received?

As an apprentice, I receive support from both WSP and the university. My line manager and I have a really good relationship, so if I ever need help with anything, he's always on hand to advise.

What are your plans for after your apprenticeship?

After I complete my apprenticeship, I'm interested in further study and work. I'd like to complete a Masters degree to become even further qualified in this field.

What advice would you give to others considering an apprenticeship?

If you're interested in an apprenticeship within the area of environmental consultancy, just make the jump and apply.

I'd also advise you to research relevant organisations in detail to see what projects they've been involved in and what their values are.

WSP has been involved in some great projects and their values align with mine, so as a result they were my first-choice company to work for.

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