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Thomas Melling was recently put forward for the Outstanding Student award by his teacher – so we caught up with him to find out more about what motivates him and what advice he has to give to his fellow students!

A change of career
Thomas was working for a charity as a Facilities Manager but wanted a change of career. He found an apprenticeship with the Structures Team at East Sussex Highways, which required him to concurrently study Civil Engineering at Croydon College. Ultimately, Thomas plans to go to university to carry on his Civil Engineering studies.
As an Apprentice Civil Engineer, Thomas mainly focuses on design work, including making drawings for different projects, visiting sites and carrying out structural inspections. “It’s really varied. It’s a maintenance contract, so there are lots of projects going on at once,” Thomas explains. “It’s a fun job!”

Being a student the second time around
Although his job is in Civil Engineering, there are plenty of overlaps between what Thomas learns in college and his day job. “Even though on the course we learn more about constructing buildings, it’s all very similar processes and based on the contracts and legislation you have to follow.”
It took Thomas a while to work out what he really wanted to do. After he finished school, he went to college for three years. “I just did it because I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. And then I worked for another three years. Then I was like: I need to do something I actually really enjoy. The apprenticeship is quite nice because it is a nice balance of work and education. It can be a lot of work, especially when you’ve done a long day and you have to then carry on and do college work after that, but it’s all worth it.”
“Now that I actually know what I want in life, I’m putting the effort in a hundred times more. It just helps to have a mature attitude to learn, rather than just turning up because you have to. It is worth putting the effort in. It all pays off.”

Put in the effort
Thomas’s advice for students who have come to college straight from school is not to worry if you don’t know what you want to do. “Put the effort in anyway. I didn’t know what I wanted to do until I left college. Either way, you will get a good job at the end of it if you get a good qualification. If it’s not the job you want to do, you can just go back and study.”

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