Hear from Caitlin to find out what made her decide to take up one of our software engineering degree apprenticeships and what her journey has entailed so far.

Tell us who you are and what you do

I’m Caitlin and I’m in the second year of my four-year apprenticeship in a Software Engineering degree. In the apprenticeship, you rotate through different areas of the software development cycle. I have done two, full nine-month rotations and have now started my third rotation. I am based at Adastral park in Ipswich and one day each week I attend lectures at the University of Suffolk. I started my BT apprenticeship at the age of 18 after leaving sixth form the same year. I left sixth form with an A-level and a Level 3 BTEC in IT. My current rotation is in a development role where I am making an app for volunteering within BT. My previous rotations have been in project management and testing.

Why did you choose a career in technology via an apprenticeship?

I started programming at the age of 12 through lessons at school. I did not see it as a career option until I was 16 and heading into sixth form. I had the most amazing IT teacher who had previously worked at BT and told me about the degree apprenticeships that were available here. I knew for a while that university was not for me, as it scared me at the thought of moving away from home! That’s why when I heard about the BT apprenticeship, I knew it was the best option for me.

Also, the major benefits of a degree apprenticeship made it a no brainer to apply for. I will be getting a degree whilst earning money and gaining experience in my desired career, as well as not getting myself into any debt. The experience I have gained whilst doing my degree has helped hugely with completing the university assignments. Being able to ask other apprentices who have already done the university modules for help is something I would not have been able to easily do if I was attending university.

It may seem that I missed out on the typical “uni experience” but having the extra money has allowed me to experience life outside of working hours without any added stress.

What has been your favourite project so far?

My first rotation was in Openreach whereby I worked on a project for an app that was being developed for engineers to use when visiting customers. I was shadowing the agile scrum master of the project, which in basic terms meant I was the project manager within an agile project. It was the most amazing rotation I could have asked for, as I was able to take control on many of the calls that took place and help resolve problems that any of the team encountered. I was also able to travel around the country, including Ireland, to talk about all things agile and the benefits of the methodology, as agile is a newer way of working for most colleagues at BT.

The value I got from this rotation was priceless. It helped grow my public speaking confidence and allowed me to gain valuable contacts within the business who I now approach regularly for advice.

What would you say to someone who’s in the process of looking at apprenticeship schemes?

My advice for anyone looking to do an apprenticeship is to not put too much pressure on yourself when it comes to the interview stage. I know it’s a lot easier said than done but when it comes to the interview, the assigners don’t want to know your technology skills, they want to know you. It will come across in your interview if you are nervous or calm and that will have a lasting impact on the assigners after the interview has taken place.  Also, you are not there by yourself, at the same time as you there are other potential apprentices are being interviewed. Chatting and getting to know the other candidates took my mind off things and helped me stay calm. As cliché as it sounds, being yourself is the best thing I can suggest to stand a higher chance of you getting the apprenticeship.

What do you love most about your job?

The people I have met throughout my various rotations. Everyone is so different and therefore has so much knowledge that it’s hard to not be inspired when around them. I have learnt so many things from stages of testing to the beginnings of a project, and this was all from the great role models I have met. Also, the freedom and responsibility given by my colleagues has allowed me to quickly grow and develop my skills. I wouldn’t have been able to achieve everything I have without the people around me in this job.

Where do you see your career going once you finish your apprenticeship?

From the experiences I have already gained, I will most likely look for a role in project management within an agile project once my apprenticeship comes to an end. I fell in love with managing a project during my first rotation and have been set on the idea of pursuing a career in that role ever since. I am the type of person who likes to plan and organise every aspect of my life and it’s no different when I come to work so I would love a role that allows me to do that full-time. I can program, but when there is pressure on me to get it right, I don’t do it well. That’s why I want to emphasise this because the degree sounds like my job would involve programming day in and day out, which is of course not the case. 

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