Doing a degree apprenticeship is a great way to receive a qualification without paying tuition fees and getting paid a salary. I am currently in my second year of a four-year Digital and Technology Solutions BSc at Exeter University.
When I was considering an apprenticeship, I struggled to easily find the information I needed so here are my ‘Top Tips’ if you are considering going down this route:
How does the degree work?
I work for Rowe IT 4 days a week, and the 5th day is my Uni study day where I have online and self-taught lectures. You tend to have 4 modules a year with an assignment and end of year exam for each. These modules account for approximately 50% of your grade. The other half is formed through how well you perform on the job, measured through reports and objectives called ILOs (Individual Learning Objectives). Twice a year you have a one-week residential at the University where you have face-to-face lectures and get to socially interact with other people on your course.
What do you do at work?
At Rowe, you will be part of a wider team with a line manager and team lead to support you. I was first given some online training, before progressing onto a client project. The work will vary; it can be part of a wider team or sometimes creating something on your own. That what makes the work interesting.
There will be daily stand-up meetings, (no stand-up comedy involved don’t worry) where you can ask questions or for help. You will pick up skills quickly and be surprised at how much you can contribute.
Everyone around you is there to help you, no matter how big or small the question is. Even if you are just curious about something, don’t be afraid to ask anybody in the company, even if they are on a different project team. Everyone at Rowe is very approachable and don’t bite too hard.
Ask apprentices in the years above you any questions, particularly ones relating to the University course, as they have been on the same path as you and likely asked the exact same questions when they were in your position.
Get exposure to as much information as possible when you first start, you’re like a dry sponge ready to absorb everything around you. If you are on a project and think the cloud deployment side looks interesting, let your team know, you may have just found your new favourite area…
Be prepared to have tests fail. That code you’ve spent all afternoon working on just will not work no matter what, you’ll eventually crack it and it is all part of learning. You’ve heard it a thousand times before, but you really do learn from your mistakes.
Make the most of the training provided, you will surprise yourself how quickly you can develop your skills. Make the most of resources such as Udemy for online training courses. The more you can improve your skillset the better.
Time management is a big part of being an apprentice, it isn’t easy managing a full-time job along with studies. However, with some practice and self-discipline this can be achieved. At the start of each Uni year look at the tasks you must complete and plan accordingly. When you have an assignment deadline set, work backwards outlining what tasks you want to complete each week, making sure to give yourself enough time to edit and get it submitted.
Don’t forget about your reflective practice, including your ILOs and journal. Discuss with your team leader how you can achieve these objectives during your working week. You want to aim to gather evidence for these throughout the year rather than leaving them all to the end, you’ll thank yourself later for doing this!