WOMEN’S WEDNESDAY: Meet Khadijah Ismail

Today we would like to introduce to you Khadijah Ismail, an inspiring fourth year aerospace engineering degree apprentice at BAE Systems. Khadijah is currently 22 years old from Bolton. She is an Arkwright Engineering Scholar and has been sponsored by the Royal Air Force. She is also the first Royal Academy of Engineering Leaders Scholar on a degree apprentice. She is to graduate in 2022 and aspires to use her latter scholarship funding for a trip to Nepal with a focus on engineering sustainability in third world countries.

2. When did you realise you wanted to pursue an engineering career and how did you come to a decision to pursue it via the Degree Apprenticeship route?

I don’t think I ever made a concrete decision to study engineering, I just sort of followed a trajectory and this is where I landed. 😀 There were defining moments on the trajectory such as the Arkwright Engineering Scholarship. I never knew what an engineer did back when I was 15/16 but I applied because it sounded cool. I found myself sponsored by the Royal Air Force and they really opened up the world of engineering. Another defining moment was choosing to study Electronics at A Level – it showed me the world of concept creation and I really enjoyed it!
I did apply to university at the time but the truth was I couldn’t afford it. Although I got offers from Imperial College London, University of Manchester, Loughborough and Liverpool, it just made sense to go for a degree apprenticeship, the best of both worlds, earning while I’m learning.

3. How has BAE impacted the level of experience you have? Do you think you would have had the same experience opportunities had you taken the full-time university student route?

Good question! When I look back at the four years I’ve spent in my career so far, I feel really proud of the engineer I’m becoming. BAE Systems have really supported me in my personal and professional development and I definitely don’t think I would have had the same experiences had I taken the full-time university route. Working full time in my career but also being a student helped me to realise a lot of things about the engineering industry. We engineers are cool, but we need a lot of cogs to turn to make things happen. We need to liaise with finance teams, discuss supply chains, roll out technology on a global scale and have project managers to help us do our job. There are a lot of people who enable engineers to create and innovate and I think sometimes they get missed out. So credit to them! I don’t think I would have the same experience as full-time uni student.

 4. Your level of experience and LinkedIn profile is truly impressive. May you please let us know how to build a good network on LinkedIn and how to achieve the experience opportunities you have such as being a Royal Academy of Engineering Leaders Scholar?

Thank you! Building a network on LinkedIn means engaging and networking with people. Whether that’s through liking posts or commenting on topics that you are passionate about, it will make you stand out. No point having LinkedIn to be invisible (unless it floats your boat). Connect with people and engage with them. The Royal Academy of Engineering Leaders Scholarship was my highlight of 2020. I heard about the scholarship through work and was successful in my application. Grace Handley (a colleague) and I were the first ever degree apprentices to secure this scholarship so it meant a lot to us. It gave us the funding to pursue our personal development, some of which I am using to learn Arabic. Please see the link below for more information on the application process.

5. Lastly, please tell us more about your poetry podcast, future plans and one piece of advice you would give to current university students and apprentices?

The poetry podcast was born in lockdown! I really struggled with a sense of routine, felt like I lost my hobbies and tried to bring some of them back. I’ve always loved poetry (especially if it rhymes) and the plan is to continue with the podcast. It’s exam season at the moment so it has been quiet for a while but I will be getting back into it soon! You can have a listen at:-
My future plans include graduating in 2022 with a first class honours degree in Aerospace Engineering as well as completing 5 years worth of engineering experience. I hope to use some of my funding from the Leaders Scholarship for a trip to Nepal focusing only engineering sustainability in third world countries.
I’ll share some advice that was given to me – just take every single opportunity. Literally. Don’t doubt yourself, ask for the opportunities and the worst answer you’ll get is no. But at least you asked! Don’t let the ‘no’ lower your confidence and remember to always dream big! The world really does start and end entirely in your mind and dreaming big will help you to manifest it into your life. Lastly, feel free to get in touch with me if you do have any questions. Happy to help.

Thank you Khadijah for sharing your experience with us! We wish you best of luck in your journey!

Interviewer: Mitchelle Matope
Blog Editor: Ioni Kalospyrou

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