Day in the Life of a Consulting Apprentice – Millie Smith

Degree Apprentice 

Atkins (a member of the SNC-Lavalin group)

I joined Atkins in September 2022 as a degree apprentice, part of the Apprentice Consultant Development Programme (ACDP) in the Aerospace, Defence, Security and Technology Division. I felt like Atkins was a perfect fit for me as I was interested in taking part in a variety of projects and Atkins gives you many opportunities to work with different clients and help make a positive difference to people, society, and the environment. This is really important to me as I pride myself in being part of a journey that is not just solely focused on the job at hand, but making a difference in people’s lives and the planet.

I frequently work from the Bristol Office and usually spend around two days a week in the office and work the other three days from home, on one of which I attend university studying for my degree in Project Management. Atkins is a very flexible organisation and allows you choose which days of the week you work from the office, and which you work from home. Every other month the Bristol Apprentices, placement students and graduates travel down to London for the day to see all the other young professionals. I really enjoy travelling to London with the other apprentices and experiencing a different city for the day.

Within my role, I am currently providing Operational Support internally within Atkins to the training and development manager. I work across ADS&T supporting various business areas and work closely with senior stakeholders including the practice director and managers. My role requires exceptional organisational and time management skills. I must keep on top of my to-do list, prioritise the most important tasks and schedule effectively so deadlines aren’t missed and all the work I produce is to the highest standard. For example, I organise and facilitate monthly Line Manager calls within my practice area. I am required to set up the meetings and ensure everyone that needs to attend has been sent an invite.

I also engage with the practice managers to discuss content for the agenda, as I am in charge of creating the PowerPoint with all necessary key updates. During these calls, I often present content myself which, to begin with, I found challenging, but after building up my confidence and believing in myself I now feel comfortable in doing so. Over the last few months, I have tried to innovate and increase the value of the collective line manager calls : for example, by introducing ‘line manager of the month’ awards to enhance employee morale and satisfaction.

Alongside my role, I am involved with other projects including the apprentice challenge. The apprentice challenge is undertaken by apprentices in their first year, and lasts for six months, with the  aim to allow apprentices to run their own projects and gain experience in that area. I am the Business Change Lead for the Social Value Apprentice Challenge. On behalf of the project manager, I am responsible for defining the project benefits, assessing the progress towards realisation, and achieving measured improvements recommended by the project sponsors.

I also have two additional roles. Within the ACDP, I am one of the Wellbeing Champions, sharing best practice on wellbeing initiatives, and where to find support/guidance. Monthly, I present in team talks on different current topics and offer further reading for those interested. I post information on the wellbeing wall, to support anyone who needs additional guidance on important topics, helping to boost employee engagement and wellness in the workplace. I have recently proposed that we send out a self-care checklist and arrange to have a monthly wellbeing walk and a ‘snack and chat’, to support more employees on a personal level and create a positive workplace environment.

Another of my responsibilities is to  co-project manage the core consultancy skills framework, (CCSF) which is a programme designed to inform consultants about best practice and allow them to further their consultancy development. I have only just taken over from the previous project managers and I am excited to kickstart Pmehase 5 of the program, continuing to innovate the framework’s brand and bringing new light to the collaborative ‘lunch and learns’. It’s a great opportunity to build my network, meet new people across the business and increase my overall knowledge of consulting, allowing me to grow as a young professional.

I am currently involved with recruitment for new apprentices and attend as many careers fairs as possible to talk about the benefits of apprenticeships and all the amazing opportunities being a consultant can offer you. If, after reading this, you are interested in a career in consulting I highly recommend it. As a consultant, you need to prepare for a challenging and fast-paced environment, but I would say to anyone that being able to positively impact people’s lives every day is what makes the job special. Starting the day knowing you’re going to help benefit businesses and society has made my career so unique and rewarding.