Cisco's youngest IT apprentice

Rosie

Rosie

About Rosie

Rosie proves you can start a career straight after your GCSE’s. She’s Cisco’s youngest employee worldwide, starting her career aged 17 and is on her way to getting a degree and three year’s full-time work experience by the time she’s 19.

How did you get into tech?

“I studied computing for GCSE because a guy at school said that because I am a girl, I wouldn't be able to do it. I’m very stubborn, so I was determined to prove him wrong. I fell in love with programming so did software development for work experience. About 6 months later at my schools career fair, I was approached by Cisco to apply for an apprenticeship.”

What's it like working at your age?

“It can be challenging to cope with being 17 and having a career. Sometimes I have to remind myself about my age. It's a challenge but I would make the same decision again.”

What does being an apprentice mean to you?

“I love that I'm always learning and building a network of people around me. As well as this, I’m going to have a degree by 19, with no debt, and 3 years’ experience through my digital apprenticeship.”

So, where does your confidence come from?

“My confidence mainly stems from my family. I have very strong influential women around me which is great. My mum and dad are very supportive of me and push me to be the best version of myself.”

Software apprentice

Sameer

Sameer

About Sameer

Sameer’s always been passionate about software. A software apprenticeship was a perfect fit for him to kick start his career – and he hasn’t looked back since.

How did you get into software?

“From a young age, I always had a keen interest in how software works and what goes on behind the scenes. I chose Computer Science at GCSE which gave me a basic understanding of programming and software development. From then on I found my passion. Before starting at Silxo, I was working as a freelance software developer. I worked on things like developing websites, and writing scripts for data migrations. This experience helped me excel on my apprenticeship.”

What’s your job like?

“I’m a software developer at Silxo. I develop software to increase Silxo’s software assets. I make sure software is written to a high-quality standard and follows the company’s processes. I participate in every stage of the software development lifecycle to make sure it’s developed and delivered to the right requirements and on time. One of the biggest highlights was building a tool from scratch – now it’s at a point where it’s adding significant value to the business.”

What has your apprenticeship meant to you?

“It’s given me many opportunities to increase my skills – from technical to soft skills. It’s given me experience in a professional working environment which has kick-started my career.”

What would you say to someone considering an apprenticeship?

“It’s one of the better options (rather than picking university) as a career path. It offers professional experience in the industry, which has increased my skills on enterprise-level projects.”

Level 3 to digital degree apprentice

Roberta

Roberta

About Roberta

Roberta’s taken her learning from Level 3 to degree with apprenticeships. She started as an IT Level 3 apprentice working on the IT service desk at the Financial Times (FT), completed a Level 4 and then progressed onto a Bachelor’s degree apprenticeship. She graduated with a 2:1 BSc in Digital and Technology Solutions. To top it all off, she’s been promoted into a new role in the IT Governance team.

How did you get into tech?

“I hadn't really enjoyed sixth form. It felt like a lot of pressure. I really wanted independence, but working part-time as well as studying full-time wasn’t an option for me. So, after results day I found the National Apprenticeship Service website and applied for an IT apprenticeship with QA. I was excited about the career prospects it could bring. Once I started working at FT, I began to learn so much about how the organisation worked – so I ran with the opportunity to keep progressing.”

What was different about doing a degree apprenticeship?

“There was more of a push to learn independently than at Level 3 or 4. I needed to motivate myself to get my assignments and course content done in time. The approach to work-based learning was much broader, which was challenging. It really made me analyse and critically evaluate my work to show my understanding.”

What’s your job like?

“On the service desk, I created reports, responded to emails and calls, resolved incidents and requests and handled queue management, like reassigning tickets to the team.”

“In my role now, I code and manage invoices and purchase orders, book training, track spend on travel and entertainment for the tech and product departments – and more. I’ve also organised events, like a Hackathon.”

What has your apprenticeship meant to you?

“The biggest thing I’ve learned is that the ‘conventional route’ is not the only way into higher education. I’m really proud that I’ve graduated from my degree apprenticeship, having managed to balance work and learning throughout.”

What would you say to someone considering an apprenticeship?

“For young people considering an apprenticeship – go for it! You have absolutely nothing to lose. Just keep focussed, make good use of your time and keep up with your assignments. You will definitely learn a lot, both academically and professionally.”

First female cyber apprentice achiever

Steph

Steph

About Steph

Steph was the first woman in the UK to complete a cyber security apprenticeship. Not only that – she achieved the highest possible grade, a distinction. And she works in a cool, unique industry where cyber meets vehicles.

How did you get into cyber?

“I chose to do the cyber security apprenticeship because it offered a mix of theory and practical knowledge – as well as the opportunity to work in the industry and gain experience. I could apply new skills in a real-world security environment. Earning while you learn is a bonus too!”

What’s your job like?

“At HORIBA MIRA, I’ve learned so much about cyber security, particularly in the automotive domain. My knowledge ranges from building and programming tools, to covering issues like data privacy – as well as becoming familiar with automotive cyber security standards. I’ve used what I learnt in the classroom on networking and cryptography to further my understanding of how it’s used in vehicles. My apprenticeship has set me up for the challenges presented by securing modern vehicles.”

What has your apprenticeship meant to you?

“Highlights for me are being employed in the fascinating world of automotive cyber security, the broad scope of subjects covered by the apprenticeship, and the wonderful people I have met along the way.”

What’s next for you?

“I plan to do either a BSc or MSc in cyber security to progress my career as a cyber security analyst. I’d also like to do some professional certifications like EC-Council’s CEH and CompTIA’s CySa+.”

What would you say to someone considering an apprenticeship?

“I’d strongly encourage you to go for it. You’ll get relevant knowledge, a chance to develop your soft skills, and you’ll build up valuable experience from day one. It will make you a valuable and well-rounded asset to your workplace – not to mention looking great on your CV!”

Marketing apprentice to marketing manager

Jonathan

Jonathan

About Jonathan

Jonathan was feeling stifled and stuck, tired of the classroom and working in an unfulfilling job. His apprenticeship changed everything. He was promoted to digital marketing manager by the age of 21 and has a career he’s proud of.

Why did you choose to do an apprenticeship?

“I was tired of being in the classroom after going through 13 years of school, a course on interactive media at college and working a job I didn’t like. I knew I had to do something with my life, but didn’t know what I wanted or how to get it. It was time for a change.”

What’s your job like?

“Wallet.Services is a small start-up in Edinburgh looking to do big things. Everyone in the company knows everyone and everyone has their say in what the business does. Most importantly to me, we all have the chance to broaden our horizons and aren’t pigeonholed into one specific function but can experiment with different types of work within the business.”

“I help our sales and development teams do what they’re best at. As it’s a young company, a lot of things weren’t created yet when I started – things like templates, email signatures and slide decks. I’ve implemented a visual style and brand for the company – it’s allowed us to stay consistent, both in how we look and what we say. Working on our social media and newsletter has given our brand a personality.”

What’s been a highlight of your career so far?

“There have been so many high points in my short career: meeting MPs and MSPs, events at Microsoft, helping our newest team member get to grips with her role – and my recent promotion. If I had to pick one, it would be seeing my graphic design work printed out on a huge stand at DIGIT Expo 18. I’m so passionate about design – and was proud of the work I produced. It was extremely validating and exciting. I’d never seen my work outside of a screen before."

What did your apprenticeship mean to you?

“As an apprentice, I was able to build my skills on the job, learn from the skills coaches at QA, implement what I had learnt immediately in a real business and have some money in my pocket, which allowed me to support myself and my family at the age of 19, doing something I love.”

“My apprenticeship has given me a massive leg-up in my career. Had I gone to university, I wouldn’t have finished my course by this point and would be worrying about finding my own job in the big bad world. Working as an apprentice has given me confidence, self-worth, rewarding work, knowledge, skills and a happy and healthy lifestyle.”

Data analyst

Abi

Abi

About Abi

Abi started her apprenticeship at the age of 18. Now she’s a Data Analyst.

What’s it like being an apprentice at your age?

“Great! It’s an amazing way to start a career, gain experience, learn and get a qualification as well as get paid!”

How does it feel choosing a different route than most people your age?

“Sometimes I feel pressure, like I’m having to prove myself to others around me that I made the right choice by leaving sixth form to go straight into the working world – I think I’m doing a pretty good job! Knowing that I’m already in the position I am today without having to go to university and get a degree makes me very happy. I still have people saying to me that they are having to get a degree first to get to where I am!”

What does your apprenticeship mean to you?

“Being an apprentice means that I’m able to learn whilst getting real work experience and a salary. It’s opened up so many new opportunities for me that now I’m a Data Analyst.”

First cyber apprentice with a distinction

Ben

Ben

About Ben

Ben’s our first cyber security apprentice to achieve a top Distinction grade. His apprenticeship with energy company SSE helped him decide what he wanted to do as a career. And he’s not planning to stop building his knowledge anytime soon.

How did you get into cyber?

“I’ve always had an interest in IT but struggled to pin down what specific area I’d like to follow as a career. An apprenticeship can open your eyes to a lot of different areas to help you work out what you enjoy and where your strengths and weaknesses are. The chance to learn both academically and through actual hands-on experience has been such a great opportunity.”

What’s your job like?

“One of the main pieces I’m working on now is an audit for a big security compliancy standard, which is a large-scale project.”

What did your apprenticeship mean to you?

“Getting to meet loads of new people like my colleagues and other apprentices was a fantastic experience. The courses provided by QA were very high quality – both the training materials and the trainers themselves were great. It was also fun learning with other apprentices and helping each other out.”

What’s next for you?

“My next role will deal with a variety of areas within security. It will give me a better understanding of what area I’d like to lean towards. I’m very keen to continue learning and will be looking to gain as many certifications as possible. Like Network+, Security+ and CCNA. Right now I’m interested in penetration testing, but that might change in future.”

What would you say to someone considering an apprenticeship?

“I can’t stress enough how enjoyable and fulfilling completing an apprenticeship is. We all know how hard it can be as a young person to get experience considering the modern-day catch-22 of “how am I supposed to gain experience to find a good job if I’m constantly turned down for not having any?” Well an apprenticeship is your chance. Go for it!”

Business apprentice

Aisha

Aisha

About Aisha

Aisha was always interested in business. On her apprenticeship her passion has grown, and she’s had even more unexpected perks – like travelling round the country and working on one of the UK’s most well-known projects.

How did you get into business?

“I applied through Civil Service Learning, went through the online assessment and a full assessment day. I had an interest in business and economics previously and still do, even more so, since joining this apprenticeship.”

What’s your job like?

“It’s so exciting! I’m able to travel to many places, for example today I’m travelling from London to Birmingham, and I will also have opportunities to possibly travel to places like Brussels, Wales and more.”

What does being an apprentice mean to you?

“It means a lot, I am very grateful for the opportunities given to me. I feel like I am a part of something important, especially as my work is to do with Brexit negotiations.”

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