Technology Apprenticeships – An Interview with Katherine and Fraser
How many of you were lucky enough to know exactly what career path you wished to take while you were still at school? Alongside studying, revision and exams, you’ll also be given a wealth of information from those around you about colleges, universities, work experience and increasingly so, apprenticeships. Deciding what route best suits you and your goals can be challenging as you weigh up the pros and cons of each option.
RBS offers a range of apprenticeships across areas such as Technology and Business Administration. It is Technology, along with the other STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) subjects that frequently make headlines for their lack of participants. I talked to two apprentices who are in their first year of a Technology apprenticeship within the bank, to find out exactly what it entails.
Katherine Harris and Fraser Ramsey are two colleagues who are twelve months in to their apprenticeships - which after two years results in a permanent role - and most importantly, their Technology career.
After attending a presentation at her high school to discuss Technology apprenticeships, and having always been interested in finding a job working in the Technology field somehow, she decided to explore it further. After talking to her friends, family and teachers she made the decision to apply and after a swift process of a matter of weeks, Katherine was offered a place on the apprenticeship; which she accepted.
Leaving school at Christmas and - embarking on a different path to her school friends - last January saw Katherine joining twenty others in her same position on the induction course. This helped to put her at ease and offered the support network that supported with the transition from school to an office based 9 to 5 role.
Katherine mentioned how she found it a welcoming and adaptable move as there were other school leavers embarking on the apprenticeship with her, and although very different to what she has previously experienced, she slowly got used to her new day to day life. Katherine added,
It was really beneficial to me during those first few days on the induction to know there were similar people to myself, people I could relate to and who could form a support system with while we got to grips with working at the bank; instead of being at school
Joining the Infrastructure Design team, Katherine has been able to utilise technical knowledge and theory and gain practical experience in projects covering design solutions and servers, enabling her to put the knowledge acquired during the coursework into practice. Even the soft skills she developed while at school - such as delivering presentations - have been put to use on the programme, helping to provide a platform for consolidating her school work with the coursework she has completed on the apprenticeship so far.
The coursework – which occurs in blocks of two weeks every couple of months throughout the apprenticeship – has proved to be Katherine’s favourite aspect so far and enthused about the assessors who have taught and supported her, and made it easy for her group to understand the topics covered.
Katherine’s aim is to continue to develop in a technical based role, moving onwards and upwards as she says. Katherine said that she has taken to it just the same as her male counterparts have and would highly recommend any budding Technology females out there to enquire for themselves.
Having worked in bars for 7 years after finishing school, Fraser found a different route on to his Technology apprenticeship. After a friend who worked for the bank suggested the apprenticeship to Fraser, he immediately looked in to it. As someone who always had a passion for technology and computers, Fraser added,
‘My interests always lay in this area and it was something that I cultivated in my spare time around my job in the bar. As soon as my friend mentioned it to me I looked in to it, as it struck a cord with me. I was ready for a change and wanted to get started on my career in an area that interests me.’
Fraser followed the same application process as Katherine; including an online test and interview. Fraser explained how the interview also contained a small workshop where he was able to put his experience of dealing with difficult customers in the bar to use. He went on to explain how everyone has transferable skills, knowledge or experience to be able to be utilised so it’s not a daunting task at all.
The reality compared to the expectations of working life at the bank is something that has come as a surprise to Fraser, as he envisioned the culture and atmosphere to be far more strict and subdued, and mentioned that he was overjoyed when he started to realise that the fun aspect of his bar job also exists here at the bank. Fraser said,
‘There is a real sense of comradery here at the bank where people are very supportive and just want the best for you. If people have a problem or are just struggling to get used to the new way of working, there are people readily available and wanting to help – this is something that I’d imagine you don’t get in every job out there, so we’re lucky.’
Mid way through his apprenticeship and placed on the Transitions and Service Delivery team, Fraser has been working hard to try and complete his coursework ahead of time. He aims to complete it sooner than the expected two years so that he can move onto a salaried position in the bank sooner – hopefully in Security as this has proved to be an area of interest for him.
Do you think an Apprenticeship could be the right move for you or someone you know?
The application process – and move to an office environment - can appear quite a scary and unfamiliar thing, especially for anyone applying directly from school. I asked Katherine and Fraser what tips and advice they would give to any prospective apprentices.
- They didn’t find that anyone within their groups knew exactly what to expect but said to remember that your group is in it together. You’ll go through the process with the same people, who’ll quickly become friends
- Take your time to find your feet, and ask questions. You’ll be assigned a buddy who’ll be there for you for any problems or to offer guidance. The culture shock of being in a office environment compared to where you’ve come from will ease, remember that everyone if friendly and there to help
- The coursework that you’ll complete leads to a recognised qualification. Managers are flexible with those on apprenticeships and will ensure you have sufficient time to complete your coursework
- An apprenticeship can provide a great platform to begin your career. You’ll complete a development plan which can help you work towards wider goals. Keep open minded and liaise with other teams to gain a wider perspective of the business and what opportunities exist once you have completed it