Keeping my options open
My plan was to go to university, and I had applied to study English Literature or Liberal Arts (I was stuck between the two) but at the same time I wanted to keep my options open, so started to look at apprenticeships. I signed-up to IntoUniversity and Pathway CTM (who help young people find apprenticeships) and it was via the Pathway website that I found Accenture’s degree apprenticeship opportunities. I didn’t really know much about Accenture, or degree apprenticeships, but I thought I’d not lose anything in applying. Pathway CTM were very supportive throughout the entire application process offering to help me to prepare me for the interview stages and that’s when I really started to get serious about getting on to a degree apprenticeship programme.
Educating my parents
To be honest, it was hard to convince my mum about apprenticeships because she really wanted me to go to university. My parents had no clue what an apprenticeship was, let alone a degree apprenticeship. They were confused because I went from saying I want to do English at university to saying I want to do an apprenticeship in technology, and they were like ‘what are you doing?’ They were worried that I would have less opportunities by not going to university and getting a degree so, I had to explain to them that by doing a degree apprenticeship for three or four years, I would not only get a degree that was paid for but secure a job in the process. My parents did not know Accenture or the IT sector, but we did our homework on both together, which I think helped. Even although it took a while to get them on my side, once they understood everything, they were extremely supportive and knew I was making the right choice. Now, they just brag all the time about my apprenticeship and that I’m working for a fantastic company like Accenture!
Switching from an English degree to a Technology Degree Apprenticeship
I’m often asked why I ended up on a technology degree apprenticeship when my original plan was to study English, as they appear to be polar opposites. One of the main reasons was I aware that the world was changing, and tech was embedded in that change. Although I appreciated the creative side of things, I just knew that I wanted more challenges and, technology offered that. At school, I was doing a lot of essay-based subjects and wanted a break from that, so to challenge myself I started to do some programming on the side - learning Python by myself from scratch. I realised it was something I found motivating and it was from there that I started to get more interested in technology.
Another thing I’m always asked is why I applied for the Warwick scheme when I lived in Essex (surely London would have been better). But, if I had gone to university I would have moved away anyway - at the time I was still applying to universities, did all my UCAS and got my offers from Durham, Warwick and Exeter. I had consciously applied to universities that I knew were not close to home as I was excited by the idea of moving away and trying something new out - that’s one of the main reasons why I applied for Warwick.
Trust, responsibility and opportunity
Since joining Warwick last September, I’ve been in the Networks team. Everybody is just so friendly, and I’ve had a lot of support in my work rather then been thrown in at the deep end. It’s more ‘I’ll walk you through it, show you what we’re doing and the importance of it and then why don’t you do it’. Since starting, I’ve also got involved with configuring an Internet Switch with a co-apprentice. I’ve also started to do AWS (Amazon Web Services) training and hope to be a certified AWS practitioner by this time next year.
There are quite a few things I’ve really enjoyed so far but configuring the Switch is up there at the top of the list. Coming from a place where I did not have a clue what Networks were, to then being given the task of configuring a Switch and taking it into a datacentre was fantastic. I was really shocked at first to be trusted with something that big and I was a bit hesitant ‘are you sure that I know enough… and you trust me to do it…’ but it was a credit to our knowledge and our hard work that we were given the opportunity and, we knew if we needed any help it would be there for us. Having someone to trust us our abilities that early on in our careers made me feel proud – not just for myself and my colleague but, for the team as well by having that faith in us.
A degree apprenticeship opens-up many opportunities quite quickly. Having the chance to not only earn your degree but a job straight afterwards means you’re more financially secure and a lot more independent. I would say don’t be afraid to take the next step and apply for as many opportunities as you can. If you’re interested in university then keep that as a consideration but don’t shut down any other doors that are open. At first, it might be a bit daunting to move away from home, especially after finishing sixth form. You might feel that you want to stay with your family or feel like it’s too big a leap to start working and getting into that mindset of being professional. I would say that it’s a leap you will have to make at some time and by doing it a lot sooner, you’re more prepared for the future.
If you’re ready for the world of work, why wait? Find out more about our apprenticeship programmes and how to apply.
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