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Photo of National Grid Advanced Apprentice Alyssa Blackledge

My job is hands-on and every day is different

Gamer Alyssa Blackledge, 18, grew up in a family of engineers and always knew she didn’t want a desk job. That’s why a practical apprenticeship that allows her to get out on site is perfect for her.

Hi, I’m Alyssa and I’m an Electricity Transmission Substation Craftsperson Advanced Apprentice. It’s quite a mouthful. Basically I’m one of the people who carries out the essential maintenance work on site and I’m in the second year of a three-year apprenticeship.

I love my job because it’s practical, hands-on and every day is different. One day last week I was maintaining cables and the next day I was doing transformer maintenance on site at Penwortham substation in Lancashire. Fun, greasy work! This week I’ve been doing some City and Guilds exams at our National Training Academy in Eakring, Nottinghamshire.
 

Gamer Alyssa Blackledge for National Grid career story

I knew I didn’t want to be stuck at a desk doing repetitive paperwork, so this apprenticeship is perfect for me. The only negative is working when it’s pouring with rain.

Everyone is 100% welcoming

My dad and grandad are both engineers, so my family was very supportive. I’ve also always been a massive geek – from Lego when I was little to gaming and comic books. Now I love being the woman in a hard hat and high vis jacket. Except for the operations manager, I think I’m the only woman on site – but that’s never phased me.

Everyone I work with has been 100% welcoming and they all love to teach me and help me succeed. I think that’s a key part of the ethos here – make it happen, for yourself and everyone around you. From a personal perspective, I’m interested in what we can do to combat climate change and I like working for a company that’s actively looking for solutions.

Everyone I work with has been 100% welcoming and they all love to teach me and help me succeed. I think that’s a key part of the ethos here – make it happen, for yourself and everyone around you.

When I started, I was most surprised by the levels of risk assessment and working in such a super safety focused environment. It’s impressive. I used to work part-time in a kitchen and I’ve still got the burn scars to show for it.  

My confidence has grown so much from being involved in networking events, like chatting to Year 11s at recruitment events and filming a recruitment video. I’ve got a bit of a baby face and I only turned 18 in August, but I love talking to people about what I do.

I feel so lucky being paid to learn

It’s wonderful being paid to learn. I’m in the company share scheme and I’m aiming to put down a deposit for my first house at 21. When I started I was shocked at just how much I was earning and I realised how lucky I was when I met up with some friends who were complaining about their student debt.

It’s a really fun environment here and there are so many opportunities all over the country. When I initially applied, I thought there weren’t any opportunities near my home in Blackburn and I was willing to move for the job, to maybe Essex or Norfolk. But then this space came up after I’d completed the interview process. So, my advice would be to just go for it!