In 2013, I began a Mechanical Engineering Apprenticeship with Proctor and Gamble. In my three years working there, I completed many technical training certifications, including my BTEC Level 3 Diploma, as well as starting a HNC as part of an advanced apprenticeship.

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In 2016, I began my employment at the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) as a Mechanical Engineer, whilst continuing my HNC and then starting my HND. Whilst I thoroughly enjoyed the Mechanical Engineering position, I interviewed for a Technical Advisor role to the Executive Director Team at AWE.

Preeya Lakhani

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I was successful in this role and supported the Chief Financial Officer for 18 months, whilst finishing my HND and starting my Masters Degree in Engineering. I out-turned from this position in 2018 and began my Project Management career. Whilst this was the beginning of a very steep learning curve, it led to my current role (and dream job) as a Deputy Programme Manager for Lockheed Martin, working on UK Satellite Programmes after completing my Masters Degree in 2020.

Why did you choose to complete a BTEC Higher National?          

This qualification had a natural progression from the BTEC Level 3 and interested me because the syllabus incorporated more strategic topics that would help me in my career. I also had my eyes set on completing a degree in the future, and Higher National qualifications are widely recognised by university admissions.

How will completing a BTEC Higher National make a difference in your career?

The syllabus included topics that were valuable to me as an engineering professional and perfectly complemented the technical side of the role I experienced at work. I valued that my Higher National not only pushed the boundaries of my technical knowledge, but also encouraged me to explore other subjects that included managing people and quality management. In the future, I plan to continue to build on my experience as a Programme Manager working in Space and lead a Programme for the UK!

Do you have any career tips or advice for current or prospective Higher National students?

1. You CAN do it. Balancing a career and a Higher National qualification is a challenge, but with effective time management and the willingness to do it, you can. And yes, you will still have time to enjoy weekends. Before you know it, you'll have a routine!

2. It is WORTH it. Higher National qualification can open many doors into further education. The more choice you have, the better the position you are in. And if you do not have the intention to progress higher than a HNC/HND, remember that these in themselves are a very high standard of education and you should be proud of what you have achieved.

3. Try not to compare yourself to friends who have chosen a traditional university route to gain a degree. Higher Nationals are every bit as valuable because this style of learning you can apply easily to real life.