Meet Jaymisha, a current first year Digital and Technology Solutions (DTS) apprentice who discusses her journey onto a Degree Apprenticeship...
Why did you choose to do an apprenticeship?
It gave me the ability to train in a real workplace environment and directly apply the knowledge I was learning through my studies at university, to daily work as a junior software engineer at Thales. After completing work experience with Thales during Sixth Form I knew I wanted to be able to begin learning within this industry as soon as possible and an apprenticeship would allow me to do just that.
Why was the WMG, University of Warwick the right choice for you? What attracted you to the programme?
Initially when I applied for the apprenticeship with Thales, it was not known what university or provider the course would run with. However, after receiving news that Thales will be working alongside WMG to co-design a digital and technology solutions professional degree apprenticeship, I was more than excited to begin this new journey. Warwick as one of the Russel Group Universities, would be offering strong academic challenge whilst Thales would provide stretching and exciting projects to gain industry competencies, therefore the new partnership was no doubt an excellent choice and made me excited to be apart of it.
How do you balance your time between work and university as a Degree Apprentice?
As part of our Thales contract we get one study day a week where we focus solely on our university work. Time management has been a key skill I have developed throughout my time as an apprentice because you must balance both work deadlines and university assignment deadlines. It requires planning of the tasks that need completing and working out how best to divide your time; I have also found that having a dedicated study space has allowed me to settle down easier for university work and be more productive. Occasionally it is the case that one study day is not enough time, for instance if there are upcoming university exams I need more revision time for, and this problem can easily be solved by communicating with my manager as there is always flexibility regarding study and work time.
How have you been able to apply your learning to in the workplace so far?
One of the first modules we studied at university was Smart Solutions, this consisted of learning both Python and C++. At Thales I work in Air Traffic Management where we design and implement Air Traffic Control software to many different countries around the world. We specifically use C++ for our programming and therefore my learning of the language at university directly impacted the work I was able to do at Thales, allowing me to begin my journey of solving software bugs and implementing code using C++ as a software engineer.
What advice would you give to somebody thinking about doing a Degree Apprenticeship?
The main piece of advice I would give to someone interested in a Degree Apprenticeship is do your research. Fully understanding the role you are applying for and the company with which will provide you this education is very important in helping you make a decision about whether this career path is the best option for you. It would also be extremely beneficial to get work experience with the company you are looking to complete your apprenticeship with; this will give you a good insight into the day to day tasks you may be carrying out and you will be able to talk to people doing the programmes to ask all the questions you have that may help with your decision making. Thales offer work experience and I have to say doing a week of work experience with them during Sixth Form really drove me to apply for the degree apprenticeship and helped me make the decision of choosing this academic path over full-time university.
What do you think makes a good apprentice?
Enthusiasm is key with this career path, if you are genuinely interested in the subject you will be studying, it will give you the motivation for success as an apprentice and will bring you the most rewarding experiences. Although many learning opportunities are presented to you as an apprentice, a standout apprentice is one who constantly seeks to learn new and exciting things in the workplace and engage with every opportunity that is presented to them.
Being an apprentice is a different experience to a full-time university student as we have the responsibility of being in the workplace, but you have the best opportunity to hit the ground running for your future career; the benefits are endless. If you are looking into a degree apprenticeship and have done your research well, I would say go for it!
Jaymisha is a Degree Apprentice with Thales and is studying at WMG, University of Warwick on the Digital and Technology Solutions (DTS) course. She will be starting her second year in September 2020.