We chatted with Charlotte, one of our Technology apprentices to discover what she's been up to so far and what she enjoys most about her programme.

What’s exciting about Technology at BT?

Being part of the team that is at the forefront of new technologies and industry firsts will always be so exciting. Knowing that the projects you are working on will make a real difference to people’s lives and the fact that there is always something new to in the works, is one of my favourite parts about networks.

What impact does your work have in the business and/or customers?

As an apprentice one of the best parts about the role is moving into a new team every 6 months. Contrary to popular belief I don’t make tea all day, in fact far from it. I have led on multiple projects and have responsibilities just like any other employee. This means that I get exposure and the chance to work on lots of exciting projects going on in the business.

In one of my teams, I was part of a project that built and installed new software on employees’ computers which made working from home a lot easier when the pandemic hit. It was an amazing feeling to know that I was helping my colleagues by making their lives just that little bit easier in a such a stressful time.

I also spend a lot of time representing BT as an apprentice, supporting young people make choices about their future through mentoring, careers fairs, hosting work experience etc. Apart from spreading awareness about apprenticeships, I am also helping to inspire people to consider different pathways and show how great the BT schemes are. Through this important work I hope that we will motivate future talent to consider a career in technology and work for BT.

What’s your favourite project you’ve ever worked on?

Being able to contribute to the Galaxy programme, which involves the removal of Huawei equipment from the UK’s 5G Mobile network has been one of my favourite projects I’ve worked on so far. As part of this project, myself and another colleague created a community for all the teams within the wider project, with the purpose of supporting their journey in adopting agile practices into their ways of working. We planned regular sessions with guest speakers, (internal and external), book reviews, question sessions with agile coaches etc. We hope that by introducing a variety of types of sessions, there will be something of benefit to every person, no matter their learning style.

From the offset, the attendance was far higher than we ever imagined and knowing that I played a significant part in creating something that provides value by guiding my colleagues through a big change, is such a rewarding feeling. Being given free rein on such a large project was a great experience and I learnt a lot from it. Even though I have since rotated into a new team, the community sessions are still going strong and knowing that I did the groundwork to build it up to what it is now, is such a nice feeling.

Tell us one of the highlights of your apprenticeship so far.

One of my career highlights was when I got the opportunity to represent networks and interview CEO Philip Jansen for national apprenticeship week. It was an amazing experience to meet Philip (all be it virtually) and we really got stuck into some great discussions. A lot of the questions asked, including my own, surrounded the topic of diversity & inclusion and off the back of that, Philip asked us  to come up with some ideas around how we can improve D&I in the Apprentice space. It was great to be able to work with apprentices from across the business and collaborate with one another to tackle a subject that we all are so passionate about. We conducted some research and came up with some ideas off the back of that and then presented our findings to Philips team. We are now waiting to hear back regarding the next steps from our proposition, so watch this space.

How did you decide to do an apprenticeship at BT?

After my GCSE’s I went to college and studied Geography, Film Studies and English Language (all very different to what I do now).  I wasn’t sure that university was right for me, so I had a year out to explore other options whilst I worked. I struggled a lot when all my friends went off to University and had sort of a ‘early mid-life crisis’ and panicked that I wasn’t ‘doing anything with my life’. I applied to do a degree in Primary education but after some work experience, I quickly came to the realisation that being a teacher wasn’t my destiny. I started looking into apprenticeship schemes and two years later, here I am loving my role as a Digital and Technology Solutions Degree apprentice.

I feel so lucky that BT employed me to do an apprenticeship without any prior technical experience.  If it wasn’t for this apprenticeship scheme, I would never have gotten the opportunity to work in a technical team and discover how much I enjoyed it. This is also why I am such a big advocate for apprenticeships as they provide the unique opportunity to work in an industry you have zero experience in (if you wish), whilst fully supporting you with the qualifications and experience you need to do the role. The sky really is the limit with apprenticeships.

Are you a member of any professional organisations?

No, but I do a lot of work as an apprentice ambassador within BT. One scheme that I was involved in looked at how we can streamline and improve the apprenticeship schemes across service platforms. My role was to focus on looking at how we attracted new apprentices to the business e.g., via careers fairs, hosting mock assessments, creating videos etc and ensuring current apprentices are supported if they wish to rotate into different teams during their scheme. I really enjoy being part of these schemes as being able to support my fellow apprentices to improve their experience at BT and promote the benefits of apprenticeships to young people are both important to me.

What have you learned about your career since you joined BT?

I feel like my career has only just started however before I secured my apprenticeship at BT, I had worked in a variety of industries, ranging from retail to insurance. One of the most important things I learnt from each of these roles was that I didn’t want to peruse them as a career. I gained a lots of experience and exposure in each job and am grateful for every one as they helped me get to where I am now.

I think it’s important to explore lots of industries and career paths as you never truly know if you will enjoy something before you try it. It can be so easy to fall into the trap of sticking to what you know or are good at. If you don’t put yourself outside of your comfort zone every now and then, you run the risk of massively restricting yourself and the opportunities you are exposed to. I never thought I would end up working in technology as I didn’t enjoy it at school, however if I hadn’t given trying something new a chance, I would never have found this role, and seen how much I enjoy it.

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