From acting to engineering – how apprentice Molly is helping to shape the world

Molly Cooke

Celebrating International Women in Engineering Day, here is the story of apprentice Molly Cooke, who is working with our sister company Direct Rail Services.

My engineering interest was piqued from a young age as I saw the work my dad did as an RAF technician.

He was a big influence in my life, and always encouraged my enthusiasm for repairing household equipment.

Dad was there any time I needed advice and I’ve been incredibly lucky to have a family which has supported all my interests.

That’s why it’s amazing to now see that same level of support mirrored in schools for young girls looking to get into engineering.

It wasn’t always the case. I found schools focused on chasing top grades and ensuring university places rather than honing skills. This led to me studying a degree in drama, a subject which I’m still extremely passionate about.

After university, I worked for a touring theatre company, managing one of the teams. It was a great six years, but despite the amazing opportunities, I felt unfulfilled so left in search of new opportunities.

It was then I was pointed in the direction of a Direct Rail Services advert looking for mechanical and electrical engineering apprentices. Unfortunately, my application was a couple of days too late, but I was kindly offered a chance to shadow staff at the Kingmoor depot in Carlisle.

I immediately accepted, and spent 10 weeks seeing first-hand what it took to work in the industry. This unique insight made me more determined than ever to apply next time around.

At DRS, I was introduced to a myriad repair and maintenance jobs, which require a high level of knowledge and skill. Under guidance, I was able to help with small repairs, taught industry lingo and acronyms, as well as the rigorous health and safety procedures DRS proudly adopt.

This placement allowed me to gain insight into what was required for me to take the next steps in my apprenticeship, should my future application be successful. Thankfully, it was!

Now, as a fledgling, my day-to-day tasks take place in college, but from next month, I’ll be in DRS’s Carlisle depot.