Renée Richardson, IT Apprentice (Business Systems Team)
How would you describe an IT Apprenticeship?
I consider an IT apprenticeship to be a bridge between college and actual work experience. It is a great opportunity to work in the IT sector and earn money as well as learning and working toward a qualification that can be put on your CV.
How long have you been an Apprentice?
I applied to the IDEA Apprenticeship scheme in July after receiving my college results. I started my placement at the end of August so I have only technically been an apprentice for just over 2 months.
What were you doing before you started your apprenticeship?
Before I started the apprenticeship I was completing a 2 year IT course at Suffolk New College. The BTEC National Diploma for IT Practitioners was a great course that taught me a lot about computers that I am now putting to good use in my placement. I was also looking for a job in the IT sector, but unfortunately it seems to be a vicious cycle of not having experience and not being able to gain the experience because no-one is willing to give you that chance. That all changed when I started here.
What was your best/most exciting moment?
It is so hard to choose a ‘best’ moment of the apprenticeship as there have been so many in these past 2 months to count. I would have to say that some of the best moments were getting the phone call to say I had the placement, the second week of the placement where I had had the time to settle in and get to know my colleagues, and the feeling of success when I manage to complete a job correctly for the first time without help.
It's not Uni…but what’s the social life like?
The social life of an apprentice is pretty much the same as that of a college student. The fact that the IDEA apprenticeship scheme is quite small (or at least my group was) allows us all to get that much closer and form tighter bonds. In fact, since starting the apprenticeship I have gone out on more social occasions than I had in the 2 years of being at college. Also, spending a year in a placement gives you a chance to make bonds with the team you’re working with and can therefore have some great social situations then.
How have your aspirations/aims changed since starting?
Personally, I don’t think that my aspirations have changed since starting the apprenticeship. Since starting the BTEC course at college in 2008 I knew that I wanted to be working in the IT sector as a technician. However, since starting this apprenticeship I have come to realise the importance of experience in the workplace whilst learning as it is completely different to sitting in a classroom five days a week. I am also hoping to pass this NVQ level 3 in August of this year, as I have already had discussions with my employer about possibly staying on and doing a foundation degree next year if I am successful.
What advice would you give to young people looking into apprenticeships?
My advice to people looking into apprenticeships is that if even the slightest part of you wants to do it, it is worth checking it out. It is a great way to meet new people that are in the same kind of situation as yourself and it also covers two things that I consider to be important in everyone’s life. You’ll be learning (and getting a qualification) while earning money and being treated like part of a professional team.
Who would you most like to meet?
If I could meet anyone, I would like to meet the person that decided to promote IT apprenticeships and shake their hand. Without this apprenticeship scheme and their hard work I wouldn’t be where I am today.
Materials aside what would you invent?
I would like to invent something that means that all IT problems can be diagnosed easily. I know that this kind of thing already exists, but as with many kinds of diagnostic tools, there are often more than one possible problem and solution. I’d want a piece of software/hardware that could scan the computer and automatically detect what is wrong with it, as this would make it a lot easier when it comes to troubleshooting and resolving issues, which would then reflect better on the company.
What is the role you’d love to do…one day?
There is only one role in IT that I would really want to do, and that is to be a hands-on computer technician. It is a fun job that requires me to use my hands as well as my head. Also, this job means that I have to interact with a lot of people with varying computer issues. Another brilliant thing about computer technicians is that they are more often than not team-workers and they band together to help each other out when it is needed. It is a challenging job but I can’t think of a job that I would rather do.
Renée is on an apprenticeship run by the IDEA apprenticeship scheme.
To find out more about Apprenticeship visit http://www.apprenticeships.org.uk/