Meet Joanna Barclay - Electrical Engineer

What's your role?

I was an NIE Networks apprentice but I’m now a graduate Electrical Engineer after completing the Apprentice to Graduate programme.

What has been your educational route to this post? 

I studied for a BTEC in Electrical & Electronic Engineering in Belfast Metropolitan College and completed my HND in Electrical & Electronic Engineering. I then applied for the NIE Networks' apprenticeship programme and completed my three year apprenticeship as an overhead lines person.  In 2013 my career path took a new direction when I applied and was successful for the NIE Networks’ Apprentice to Graduate programme.  I’ve now graduated as an Electrical Engineer and I’m working in the Connections business based in Ballymena.

What is the Apprentice to Graduate scheme?

The Apprentice to Graduate programme opened in 2013 where NIE Networks' sponsors successful apprentices to undertake an Electrical and Engineering degree with Queen’s University.  The scheme not only helped to get me a step closer to achieving my ambitions, but it was a good way for NIE Networks to build on the practical knowledge apprentices have gained to fulfil a skills shortage.

Do you enjoy the electrical engineering course?

It was a very interesting course. At first it was hard to adjust from a practical job where I was working outside to studying in the classroom but I really enjoyed the mix of academic and practical learning from the course.  

Did you have a role model in mind when you chose your degree? 

From a very young age I’ve always had a keen interest in electricity. I think this interest may have come from my father working as a cable jointer on the underground cables. I’ve always wanted to pursue a career in the electricity industry and I believe that undertaking the degree will help me achieve this.

What do you really like about electrical engineering?

I’m a very determined person who loves a challenge. Therefore I really liked the problem solving involved within the course. I love that it’s so versatile and there is so much to learn so it’s very difficult to get bored.

What advice would you give to someone considering an apprenticeship with NIE Networks?

I’d say stay focussed and work hard, if you do this then there is no reason why you can’t progress.  If you like hands on training then you will enjoy this apprenticeship.

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