What it’s like to do a degree apprenticeship?

James Gee, 24, has completed both a higher and degree apprenticeship in IT with CapGemini. Find out what his apprenticeship taught him, and how his near miss into uni resulted in a First Class degree and a successful career at a multi-national IT company.

Name: James Gee

Age: 24

Profession: Lead Software Engineer

Degree: First Class in BSc Digital and Technical Solutions, Aston University

HE route: Higher and degree apprenticeship with Capgemini

The best thing about being an apprentice is:

That every day is different. The only real consistency is the people and a coffee to get the day started!

For me a degree apprenticeship was a no brainer

No student debt, a good salary, A full BSc degree and five years’ work experience! Yes it was hard work, but it was also extremely rewarding looking back and seeing how far you've come.

I landed a degree apprenticeship within the IT sector for Capgemini

I love working within software. Capgemini's work is project based so you find yourself working within the same domain for 6-12 months before moving onto something totally different! It keeps things interesting and ensures I'm always learning something new. My main role these days is leading small teams of engineers to build enterprise scale applications.

I researched degree apprenticeships on the internet

The government apprenticeship website was invaluable in looking up and comparing different opportunities. Now degree apprenticeships are found in a range of subjects a quick google will turn up a lot of information.

Capgemini was the first company to offer degree apprenticeships in the technology sector.

An apprenticeship was not my original choice

I wanted to go to university initially so my school supported me with that. It was only when I didn't get the grades to go to my 'preferred' uni options did I start exploring other options. Results day was a disappointment - despite achieving AABB, I was still unable to get on the uni course I wanted. Having seen how well I've done I think my school has become more encouraging to students who want to go down an alternative route.

My family and friends were very supportive and positive

My brother had done a similar scheme without the degree at the end so my parents already knew and understood the perks of going through a programme. They were extremely supportive and I wouldn't have made it through without them!

Most of my friends went off to university which proved difficult at times. They were busy meeting new people and studying, whereas I was travelling the country and working five days a week. My journey was probably less socially focussed but nonetheless I wouldn't change it.

I think everyone has been relatively surprised at how well things turned out! When I started no one had ever done a degree apprenticeship in the technology sector so it was difficult to know what would happen.

I’m a practical learner so loved the opportunity to develop my skills on the job

In university, you rely on lab work to test what you learn in class. As an apprentice, it’s been the opposite for me — I could spend 100 hours on Java programming for a client, and then have to study the theory behind it for my degree. I’d fly through the course material as I’d seen it in action already. I'd recommend a degree apprenticeship to anyone looking to come into technology!

If you're choosing between university or an apprenticeship

Don't worry, no matter which option you choose it'll be the best one for you! Putting yourself out there and making mistakes early on is the key to success.