National Apprenticeship Week 2020: Meet our apprentices

As well as helping thousands of students and teachers across the country via the UCAS Hub, and at over 50 exhibitions, UCAS also offers apprenticeship opportunities for young people keen to start their careers with our team in Cheltenham.
Posted Fri 7 February 2020 - 12:30

As part of National Apprenticeship Week 2020, our eight apprentice software engineers discuss why they chose the apprenticeship route, their experiences so far, and plans for the future. Our apprentice software engineers play a pivotal part in our development environment, and they’re gaining expertise in the latest technologies, ensuring delivery of our ambitious transformation programme. Their apprenticeships will kick-start their careers within an agile technology development function, and work as a gateway to further study and promotion opportunities.

Why did you choose an apprenticeship?

Kiran: I’d always wanted to go into IT/computer programming, and believed that an apprenticeship and work experience would be really valuable for me.

Kieran: I didn’t like the idea of going to uni straight from college. I wanted to learn while doing instead, so decided an apprenticeship was the right path for me.

Jamie: I chose an apprenticeship with UCAS because I wanted to further my education while working, and it was the option that suited me the most.

Joe: I had always enjoyed working with computers, and had developed some programming skills in my spare time – an apprenticeship seemed like a great forward for me.

What’s a typical day for you?

Joe: The apprenticeship started with a three-month coding bootcamp, and now we are learning new technology concepts daily and carrying out programming tasks.

Paul: The tasks tend to be very varied, so what we do day-to-day is rarely the same.

What have been the biggest surprises so far?

Paul: How big of a subject software engineering is! When you finally understand one small topic, it leads on to ten more you didn’t even know existed!

Scott: I enjoy coding every day, but I was surprised at just how much there is to learn in the world of programming – it’s so much bigger than I thought.

Kiran: For me, the biggest surprise has been the ethos and approach UCAS has towards its employees. It feels like UCAS genuinely cares and wants employees to succeed both personally and professionally, while all working towards the shared goal of connecting people to education and future opportunities.

What are your plans for the future?

Scott: To become a successful software developer at UCAS and be welcomed into my team upstairs when I join them in a few weeks.

Kieran: I plan to complete this apprenticeship and hopefully get a permanent contract to stay, as I really enjoy what I do at UCAS.

Joana: Nowadays, I think we’re living a technological revolution. For companies in this industry, there is a huge need for qualified employees, so I think it is a good time to start a technology-related career.

We also caught up with Molly Winter, our apprentice HR assistant, to see how far she’s come since starting her apprenticeship with UCAS in November 2018.

What’s a typical day for you in HR?

A typical day for me is mainly processing staff changes. This varies from new starters and internal employment changes to resignations. I work closely with the HR team to ensure every detail is processed correctly on our HR/Payroll system and spreadsheets. I usually have some vacancies running too, so I manage these alongside the HR operations responsibilities.

What skills have you learnt/developed throughout your time at UCAS?

I’ve learnt so much about employment law, especially conflict resolution and how difficult situations get de-escalated. These skills are invaluable and in order to build strong relationships both personally and professionally, and I’ve used them more than once in my other job at a bar – I’m already reaping the rewards!

What have you enjoyed the most about your apprenticeship?

As my first office-based job, I’ve learnt an extortionate amount about how a corporate business works which I can take forward, and so many skills that are transferable in day-to-day life. The experience about the working world I’ve gained during this apprenticeship is second to none. I’ve enjoyed learning something new each day, rather than studying for exams and writing essay after essay.

What will you miss the most?

I’ll miss my team the most – I’ve made some lifelong friends and feel as though I am an equal.

Would you recommend an apprenticeship to others?

Absolutely! The development available is above and beyond what I was expecting. Ensuring I had access to hands on experiences was always the top priority – I’m constantly being asked what I’d like to learn about and what interests me.

What are your next steps?

I’m currently looking at how to take my qualification to the next level as I’m coming to the end of my apprenticeship, and I will be looking to specialise in HR.

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