Blog 53

Last year, I joined Degree 53 as an IT Apprentice and have now been here for just under 10 months. So far, being an apprentice at Degree 53 has been better than I had imagined for my first serious role. I have taken on the role of looking after the company’s IT with support from Pete, who has taught me the ins and outs of Degree 53’s IT procedures.

Making the decision

When I told my friends of my plans to leave sixth form and not pursue further education they were aghast at the idea and seriously worried about my future. Most of them see university as the be all and end all. This probably had a lot to do with going to a grammar school which really enforced the “university or nothing” mentality upon us.

So why didn’t I follow the norm?

I didn’t want to go into further education for various reasons. The first being, I had no interest in university at all. I didn’t consider university as good as it once was. At the time it definitely seemed as if many graduates were studying for several years, getting into tens of thousands of pounds debt with no real guarantee of work at the end. 

Secondly, it seemed as if employers were not necessarily looking for an individual with a piece of paper stating a 2:1 or a 1st, but they were looking for a hard worker with the right skills and experience for the given role.

And finally, throughout my time in school and college, I was able to come to grasp with my personal learning style and it became clear that I am a kinaesthetic person so the auditory teaching style of university definitely didn’t suit me. 

And this is when it became clear…

Having looked into various options it became clear that an apprenticeship could be the perfect route for me. 

The basic concept of an apprenticeship is to do a year (sometimes more) placement with a company in your desired field and by then end you will have gained invaluable experience and a respected qualification whilst on the job.

At the end of the placement your employer has the option to take you on based on your performance meaning that some (usually most) apprentices obtain full time employment after their placement. Achieving a qualification whilst gaining experience in the real world means that I have the best of both worlds.

The Process

The process of getting the apprenticeship was smooth and relatively swift.

I applied for the IT Apprenticeship at Degree 53 and within days, a recruiter got in touch with me to inform me that I would be having a telephone interview with Degree 53. I prepared for the call by researching the company and identifying questions that employers were most likely to ask. 

I was contacted by Pete, a Senior Test Analyst and who at this time looked after Degree 53’s IT, where I had a brief conversation about why I was interested in doing an apprenticeship at Degree 53 as well as, my skills and experience. From first impressions, he deemed me a worthy candidate and booked me in for a face to face meeting with himself and Rob (Technical Director) the following week.

Having had interviews in the past, I had learnt that the key to this is preparation, being confident, but not over confident and being able to demonstrate why you’re the right person for the role.

The following day I received a phone call from Pete who offered me the job and told me I could start the following Monday. Quite obviously, I accepted with no hesitation.

Being an apprentice at Degree 53

Every day involves new challenges and here’s just a few examples of a typical day at Degree 53… 

  • “Warren can you give me VPN access?”
  • “Warren why isn’t this loading, can you help?”
  • “Warren Outlook isn’t accepting my password”
  • “Warren I haven’t received an email in like 3 hours, I think there’s something wrong”

Do I get bored of hearing my name? No, it’s satisfying to know that I have genuine responsibility and accountability.

On top of my day to day responsibilities, I have used a wide range of software used by businesses including, Office 365, Azure and Trend Micro antivirus. I’ve learned things such as how to set up a VMWare server and how to set up third party software using Spiceworks.

I’ve been with the company for over nine months now and those nine months have absolutely flown. My knowledge has increased at an alarming rate and I have grown massively as both an IT professional and as an employee.

In the future, I hope to specialise in networking and go for a CCNA (Cisco Certified Network Associate) which will give me an even greater understanding of networking and allow me to solve most issues relating to networking. But the ultimate goal for my future is to quite simply be the complete IT professional that can adapt to any problem.

Although I took pretty big and risky decisions, everything worked out and I am thoroughly delighted in being in my current position as my prospects are very good. More importantly, I actually like getting out of bed in the morning and coming to work at Degree 53!

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