Tracy Tran

Tracy joined us as an apprentice a couple of years ago in an area that is dominated by men. We had a chat with her to see how she’s progressing in her apprenticeship, why she took this route and chose technology, as well as understanding the importance of having more in engineering.

Tracy, what do you and your team do?

I’ve recently just started a new rotation with the development and ASG team who manage multiple applications for Lead-To-Cash and Trouble-To-Resolve which supports field engineering.

Why did you apply for an apprenticeship in software engineering?

With the continuous progression of technology and everything rapidly evolving to become more digital it was clear to me that software engineering would play a pivotal part in this development. I knew it would be extremely fascinating and rewarding to not only be able to witness this first-hand, but also playing a part and being directly involved in these transformations.

What’s your day to day like?

On a typical day I’d have multiple meetings that include a tactical team call where each member of the team discusses what we’ve completed in our current projects. This helps me gauge ongoing ventures within my department and provides a holistic understanding of the business.

I also have regular calls with my operational manager who will usually use this time to walk me through a new concept and will then proceed to set me practice work based on what he’s taught me to ensure I understand, and I can apply my learning to real business scenarios.

Working at BT I have access to numerous learning resources such as PluralSight and LinkedIn Learning which I often use in any free time I may have to teach myself new skills and lessons, whether that be learning a programming language or learning how to use a system.

What are some of the key skills you’ve developed as an apprentice?

One of the key skills I’ve developed as an apprentice are my abilities to problem solve and think critically. Working at BT I’ve been taught that you can’t immediately start creating solutions when presented with a problem, which is usually many people’s response, you must take a step back to analyse the situation and assess the problem to allow you to collect and review as much data as possible. Instead of running with the first solution I find, I take the time to ideate a number of different options and test them before making a judgement. This ensures I produce the most desirable, viable, and feasible output as possible.

How is BT building the future?

BT have adapted and transformed from a telecommunications company to a digital company which means more opportunities for people to be involved in creating powerful outcomes.

As an apprentice ambassador for BT, I regularly attend events such as career fairs, CPDs, parent events, and student assemblies to promote not only the BT apprenticeship but also STEM subjects in hopes to motivate the younger population and close any digital skill gaps, enabling the next generation of innovators.

As a male-dominated area, were you ever scared of not fitting in?

It was definitely something I was conscious of but ultimately no, I wasn’t worried. Rather than seeing it as an area of concern I saw it as an opportunity to be a part of the integral change in the culture to be more inclusive and hopefully motivate more women to join and change this dynamic.

What do you recommend to women who are not certain about a career in engineering at BT?

My advice is to try and be as open-minded as possible and not take things at face value. For example, something I’ve found from the conversations I’ve had as an apprentice ambassador is that many people think as a software engineer our only role is programming. What many people fail to realise, and this was something I was guilty of myself before I took work experience at BT, is that there’s so much more to engineering. Yes, there is programming but there is also project management, user research, design, data and AI, and much more, and I’d like think there’s a little something for everybody. So, if you are uncertain, I recommend doing research, take work experience, speak to an employee, because you will find that what you thought you wouldn’t enjoy on paper can be very much enjoyable in practice and vice versa.

Why is it important to have more women in engineering?

Engineering plays an essential role in modern society which is demonstrated through the many services and products we use and purchase. These services are used by the wider population, including women, and so it’s vital we have women to address any discrepancies of thoughts and user experience resulting in better products being produced; if there were just men working on a project, new conclusions will never be reached. Teams need a diverse group of people to challenge each other and bring new insights, perspectives, and skills to produce more innovative solutions to problems and open up the opportunity for more technological breakthroughs.

Finally, we need to inspire the future generation of engineers. Without women in engineering this will reduce opportunities for female-led mentorship and there will be no one to teach the younger generation of girls that they are more than capable for this field. 

What’s the favourite project you’ve been involved in?

NDA projects aside, my favourite project that I’ve been involved in, and one which relates to the tone of this blog, was the BT TechWomen programme that was developed to support career progression as a result of talented women not advancing within technology due to lack of confidence. In this programme, I hosted several workshops for women across several technology companies that covered topics such as agile ways of working and user-centred design to provide the tools women need to be confident, solve problems, and progress their careers. It was extremely worthwhile knowing that I played a role in enabling women to fulfil their potential. 

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