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May 01, 2020
Leaving university to do a degree apprenticeship
By: Farzana Akthar

A change of direction

I was at university and successfully passed the first year in accountancy and finance but soon came to a realisation that that university was not for me. I didn’t enjoy that university was very theory based - personally I appreciate a hands-on project as that is the best way to learn. I also knew a lot of people that went to university who couldn’t find a professional role in their chosen career paths. For me, it felt that carrying on with university to get a degree wouldn’t hold much value. It was then that I started to consider degree apprenticeship schemes, more specifically in technology. I then found the Accenture degree apprenticeship scheme in Warwick and successfully passed the assessment stages and started here in September 2019.

Educating my family and friends

Being the eldest child, my parents have always wanted me to follow the general path to a successful future by attending university and accomplishing a respected degree. My dad had the stereotypical view that university would be the only way to achieve a professional career. After completing the first year of university, I expressed my decision to peruse a route in an apprenticeship. They were not aware of the apprenticeship route, so they disagreed with my decision. I later educated my parents on how a degree apprenticeship would be in my best interest as I would still achieve a degree whilst gaining invaluable hands-on experience.

At first my parents were not aware of Accenture as a company but once I shared some of the research I was reading on Accenture, they were even happier that I was going to be joining a big and respected global organisation.

A lot of my friends are at university and initially they were quite upset that I would be leaving but knew it would be best for me. Many of my friends agreed that this was an invaluable opportunity as I was gaining experience whilst they were looking for placements which were very hard to get onto.

Many people also had the assumption that I may not have any social life and that I would be missing out on my teen/early 20’s. An apprenticeship is very different to being in university where I went from socialising every single day to working 9-5, but our Life @ Warwick committee always have something exciting planned and in the long-term, I’m winning.

Many people are not aware that apprenticeships offer high levels such as degree apprenticeships. They expect apprentices to be paid poorly and only complete work that nobody else wants to do, but this level of apprenticeship is very different. I am gaining an honourable degree; it’s a hands-on job and you have stability. I feel like I’m still going to be on the same level as a graduate would be, but the only difference is, I have experience whereas a graduate coming in to work does not and, to top that, my degree is free!

Why technology

I found accountancy uninspiring but in school, technology was not something that was broadly advertised. It was more ‘do you want to be a lawyer, doctor or an accountant’. I soon discovered that with accountancy you’re doing the same repetitive work every day. Technology is constantly changing which means there’s always something new to work on and I liked that concept. I quickly came to appreciate that the future is technology and I wanted to be part of that - being exposed to exciting new technologies was one of the main attractions that I was looking forward to.

I am currently studying for a BSc degree in Digital Technology Solutions, following the data analyst path. My degree is accredited by the University of Roehampton with QA as my provider. I study my degree online but attended two classroom-based workshops a month for further support.

In the office, I’m working on a Cloud-based client project using Azure software to create scripts to automate and configure virtual machines - I’m still very new so the work is not overly complicated yet! I’m getting a lot of training and have recently completed the foundation course for Azure and will continue to progress through the full qualification. The work/study balance can be a bit of mix in terms of managing it, but Accenture are good in ensuring we have the time to do this.

Looking to the future

Eventually, I would like to work in Cloud Architecture and what I’m training for right now looks like it fits perfectly with those plans. I want to do all my certifications in Azure (Foundation, Administrator and Architecture level) by the end of four years, so I have the correct skills and knowledge to pursue a career in Cloud Architecture. One thing that did worry me a little bit at first is that the apprenticeship scheme is over four years and, as I already went to university, I’m going to graduate late – technically two years’ later than everyone else in my year. But then I just remind myself that even although I’m graduating two years after everyone else my age, some people may not get a graduate job after two years of graduating! This is hands-on learning, so everything you’re studying you’re putting into practice but, the main thing for me is the opportunity to have a secure and professional career at the end of it.


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