Too many girls in school believe that IT means working with computers all day long
As National Apprenticeship Week draws to a close, Amber Driscoll, a former apprentice and now Technical Analyst at Computacenter, says she would "wholeheartedly recommend" apprenticeships to other young students
I’m Amber, an ex-apprentice at Computacenter in Milton Keynes. I started my 12-month apprenticeship back in September 2014, and upon completion, began my career as a Global Service Desk First Line Analyst. I built up my experience quickly and in a matter of months I applied for this position and successfully got the job!
My experience at Computacenter
University was originally on the cards for me until the last-minute when I decided I wanted to take a gap year. I still wasn't certain what I wanted to do within IT (let alone what degree to undertake) and just felt I wasn't ready. With the intention of travelling the world falling flat, I considered what I could do productively with my time, and with that I strolled across apprenticeships . This is where I found the Computacenter apprenticeship advertised. I soon discovered that I really liked the idea of an apprenticeship because it would essentially give me relevant qualifications and experience with a good chance of a full-time job after.
I’m extremely glad that I made the decision to undertake the apprenticeship as opposed to University. I spent several months learning about Computacenter and various aspects of IT alongside attaining a fair few qualifications. I liked the structure of the training months; it consisted of a week of technical work and a week focusing on Computacenter, brushing up on personal skills and learning about the job we were preparing for.
I enjoyed this balance: there was plenty of listening and writing alongside hands-on experience reconfiguring parts of a PC tower and installing software on laptops. With the weeks focused on Computacenter and in-depth training, we also took part in many practical tasks, including shadowing on the accounts we were aligned to, and joining sessions practising performing the role in the classroom.
Thinking of pursuing an apprenticeship?
I would wholeheartedly recommend apprenticeships to other young students. If you know what career path you want to go down and university isn’t quite right for you, or you’re just interested in a subject, opt for an apprenticeship in the relevant area. You're learning every day, getting paid, and you could be guaranteed a job afterwards. Or, if it's not quite what you expected, you can walk away at the end of it with no strings attached, but a whole load of experience.
Did you know that the real-life Q of MI6 is a woman?
In terms of encouraging young women into tech apprenticeships, I think too many girls in school believe that IT means working with computers all day long, while the reality is much broader than that. IT is exciting, and women are doing fantastic things – did you know that the real-life Q of MI6 is a woman? Things like this need to be advertised more effectively to display the many different paths where IT/tech can lead to. An apprenticeship can simply be an experience, so for young women who have doubts of the tech industry not being for them, taking on an apprenticeship would be a great option to learn more about it.
My final advice for potential apprentices is to be open-minded, have a 'can-do' attitude, and if there's a course offered to you, take it. Even if some of the topics aren’t your favourite, it'll be worth having those qualifications in the end. I think the biggest motivator for me was making sure I did a great job to guarantee full-time employment afterwards – it's not too hard! Also, if the apprenticeship is based in-house at one of the company offices, like mine was, dress smart, and leave good impressions to those working there, as these could be your future colleagues.
Looking to the future, I’m going to be continuing with my role for the next few months/rest of year, and see where it takes me. I’m still not exactly sure where I see my career heading, so experiencing different roles and teams in different areas of the company is what I’m enjoying and gaining the most from – I couldn’t recommend it more.
Amber Driscoll is a technical analyst at Computacenter