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Emilie Fyfe

Technology Pre Sales Specialist Degree Apprentice
October 2021
Inclusive futures: Women in technology
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October 2021

What led you to do an apprenticeship in Tech?

I originally was very unsure of what I wanted to study and therefore decided to take a gap year. I also wasn't sure university was the right path for me and therefore did some research into apprenticeships.

I had very little work experience and before committing to an apprenticeship, I wanted to gain a better understanding of the workplace and how I enjoyed it. I therefore did some volunteering at my local Oxfam bookshop and completed a Digital Marketing traineeship (1 month course and 1 month work placement).

This traineeship introduced me to html and css coding as well as the importance of data analytics and pushed me to explore tech areas further, notably through webinars and virtual work experience programs with Springpod.

The volunteering and work placement emphasized how much I could learn and grow in the workplace and as I really enjoyed it, I decided I would apply for degree apprenticeships which combine university, theoretical studies and professional work with practical, hands-on experience. I decided to apply for tech degree apprenticeships as I really enjoyed the online courses, webinars and virtual work experience programs.

Furthermore, with a degree apprenticeship, not only would I not have a student debt, I would have a salary which is a considerable advantage when compared to university studies on their own.

What attracted you to Springpod, how was your experience of using it and how did it affect your career direction?

Springpod provided me with the opportunity to gain a much greater understanding of the tech industry as a whole. I was able to attend webinars with very interesting speakers from a wide range of companies. These events often also shared very useful information on apprenticeship schemes companies offered and the entire application process. The wide range of events Springpod offered, from technology to marketing and journalism, allowed me to explore different paths.

Some events focused on 1 company. These were particularly useful to prepare applications for the apprenticeships they offered. They also gave me an insight into the company itself, their values, purpose and history.

This understanding was crucial when applying for apprenticeships as companies expect you to know about their products and values when applying. It is also important to know about the company to try and determine if you will fit in well there.

What advice you have for young people considering apprenticeships?

1. Do your research

Participate in as many online or in person events on apprenticeships and employers as possible so that you make informed decisions

Research the different paths open to you: university, apprenticeships, degree apprenticeships

If you are unsure what you want to do, take a gap year and try to get more experience in the field you are interested in - some companies such as IBM also offer a futures year which are basically 1 year paid internships. These are great for a taste of the workplace and allow you to put some money aside too! These can also transition into apprenticeships after the internships.

Research around the company and program you are applying for: the company will ask you why you want a job at their company and why that role is right for you.

Network: do not hesitate to reach out to people who are/have done that program, they will most likely be very happy to tell you about their experience and can answer any questions you have on the role and company culture

2. Keep in mind that you can demonstrate skills from very simple experiences/don't sell yourself short

It is not because you haven't got a lot of things on your CV that you can't give examples of skills! When you have a group project at school, it is team-working. When you are balancing school projects and revision for exams you are demonstrating time management/organisational skills. Giving examples where you haven't succeeded is also interesting if you can say what you learned: why did it go wrong and what are you doing to avoid it happening again?

We all make mistakes throughout our lives. The important part is to be able to learn from our mistakes and to constantly have that growth mindset to improve yourself. Employers will often be very impressed if you can show you are aware of your weaknesses and are working on them.

Furthermore, when you start your apprenticeship, remember the employer chose you after the whole recruitment process. You are there for a reason, you deserve to be there! You can add value to the company simply by being yourself and bringing a fresh perspective.

3. Ask questions, be inquisitive!

Starting an apprenticeship can be very daunting. Most people are very intimidated when starting an apprenticeship as it is one of their first experiences of the workplace. Keep in mind the employers want you to succeed. While they do want you to do your work, they also know that when starting out, you won't know how things work. They know you still have to be trained so don't be afraid of asking questions, be inquisitive! This will also show them you are being proactive to increase your knowledge and you are motivated to do your job well. You could also ask if there is anyone who has done the same apprenticeship as you in the company and if you could talk to them.

Some useful questions to ask include:

  • What is the dress code at the office?
  • What will my day-to-day tasks include?
  • What do you see me doing in the first three months if I get the job? (This one is for the actual interview and makes the interviewer imagine you in the role which can be good for you)
4. Have relaxation techniques

Starting a new job is scary and stressful so make sure you put in place some methods for you to cope with it. Whether this be through sports or through yoga and meditation, make sure you set aside time to relax and centre yourself.

5. Degree apprenticeship application process

Throughout the process, if you can talk to people who have done or are doing an apprenticeship at the same company as you, reach out and ask them questions about the application process, the company, the role!

  • It starts with online forms: make sure you don’t miss the deadline! These involve uploading your CV, sometimes your motivation letter, and answering questions about your motivations and skills
  • You then move on to psychometric tests: these can be multiple choice quizzes but also games which allow employers to better evaluate your skillset. These can be quite stressful, but you cannot truly prepare for them as they are simply trying to find out what your strengths and weaknesses are. There are sample psychometric tests on the web, but each company has their own test so it is unlikely that you will come across the same exercise twice.
  • Some companies also ask you to do a digital interview. These are interviews where you are given a question online and have a certain time to think of an answer (30secs-1min). You are then filmed while answering the question within a given time. It can be strange just talking to your computer and practicing talking to the computer can help this. Questions are likely to involve your motivations for the role and company, how would you react in this scenario and questions about your skills like an example of a time you were a team player.
  • Some companies also ask you to do a phone interview which will probably cover similar topics to the digital interview. There are a lot of resources online (blogs and videos) which can help you prepare for this and help you understand how to structure your answer.
  • Assessment Centre: all companies have one. It can be done online or in person. Most companies will have a group exercise to see how you communicate with others, how you react in an unknown situation. They can also involve more technical and job-specific activities like summarising different articled. Some may also include a presentation about yourself and/or an interview.
    - The main point about the team exercise is that you need to contribute to be evaluated. On the other hand, all your contributions should be meanwhile. Do not lose sight of your objective and do not try to talk over everyone.
  • Companies often conclude their application process with one or several rounds of interviews. As mentioned with the phone interviews, there are a lot of blogs and videos (e.g.: CareerVidz videos) which can give you tips on how to answer difficult questions, how to prepare, how to position yourself, what body language to have.

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