Meet Elizabeth Willmore, Cyber Security Degree Apprentice at Atkins, operating under AtkinsRéalis. Elizabeth's journey encompasses learning, hands-on projects, mentoring, office socials, and travel. Her story answers all your burning questions about Atkins' approach to Apprenticeships – especially if you're interested in cyber security.
I always knew I wanted a career in cyber
After completing my A Levels, I joined Atkins' Cyber Security Degree Apprenticeship in September 2022. The apprenticeship gives me the perfect blend of work/university – I spend a week studying at Gloucestershire College/UWE Bristol and the rest of the month with my team in Bristol. My first-year university modules cover Operating Systems, Programming, and Cyber Threats. They're really engaging, and much of what I've learned has already been applied to my project work at Atkins.
"Each day is unique because there are so many opportunities to put your hand up for. I'm trusted to choose the ones that suit me, taking ownership of my apprenticeship." —Elizabeth, Cyber Degree Apprentice
You work on real-world projects from the word go
My first project involved developing training for project managers. I got to talk to experts in their field to gather information to display in training modules. Meeting with senior colleagues at such an early stage in my career increased my business knowledge, developed my confidence, and allowed me to meet many diverse colleagues. It would be especially helpful if I ever decided to gain some experience with the project management team.
I love applying my university knowledge
I've been shadowing the security team in my current project, directly applying the knowledge I've gained from my university modules. It's been incredible to see the concepts I learned in class come to life, especially when reviewing security architecture and providing recommendations through gap analysis.
Shining at Atkins' Cyber Academy
Through project work and training courses, I have had many opportunities to travel to different offices around the UK, including the Atkins Cyber Academy in Epsom. It was a hands-on, immersive training experience – different from any training course I have ever taken. We carried out various activities, including programming, escape rooms and many group tasks. This developed my practical cyber skills and expanded my awareness of cyber security opportunities inside the organization.
There is always so much to get involved with
My colleagues, managers and buddies have welcomed me to Atkins and continually supported my development. My team helps me find rewarding opportunities and ensures I always feel included. There are also many worthwhile social events to get involved with – organized mainly by fellow young professionals.
No two days are ever the same
In between project work, I've mentored STEM work experience students and Cyber Summer Placement Students and become a buddy to a new Cyber Security Degree Apprentice. The mentoring role is rewarding because I can see its positive difference in the student's experience. This opportunity has also allowed me to personally develop leadership skills that I can apply to other areas of my career.
Volunteering at the Cheltenham Science Festival
Atkins offers two volunteer days per year. I recently used one at the Cheltenham Science Festival, which aligns with Atkins' values of innovation and collaboration. This opportunity also taught me personal development skills, such as presenting and communicating.
"I like to go into the office to work with and alongside other apprentices, graduates, and senior colleagues. It's a supportive environment where everyone is always willing to help." —Elizabeth, Cyber Degree Apprentice
Wrapping up my first year, I've grown immensely at Atkins, professionally and personally. The blend of academic study with real-world experience has given me a well-rounded journey. I'm genuinely proud of my contributions and all the opportunities I've embraced. If you're considering a similar path, go for it!