Apprenticeship DegreesCalum Doughty - question and answer

Calum Doughty is a 3rd year Graduate Apprentice Software Developer working in a large banking firm in Glasgow. His role involves working on web portals for internal use in the company. His team leverages modern tools and practices to ensure that they deliver resilient, responsive, and accessible portals that give the client access to the tools and data they need while delivering an excellent user experience.

Tell us why you chose the IT Software Development Graduate Apprenticeship?

I had been to college before to do Advertising and Marketing and struggled to get a job in my desired field once I completed my certification. I was working in a supermarket and at the same time working in different bars.

Eventually, I realised I wanted the security and the routine of a 9 to 5 job. This issue was that I also wanted my degree. The Graduate Apprenticeship scheme was perfect for me and ticked all the boxes. I could now get work experience, which is invaluable to employers, and work toward my degree at the same time.

What impact, do you feel, has it had on your career progression studying towards your degree apprenticeship whilst working full time?

Nothing short of a huge impact. Instead of completing university and then seeking work, I will leave with 4 years of experience. The University is great for teaching theory and practical work for software engineering, but in terms of what it means to be a software engineer, the workplace teaches that. For example:

  • how to work in a team in a work environment
  • how to conduct yourself professionally
  • learning the business side of your industry (dealing with clients, planning tasks, backlog refinement, fixing infrastructure, etc.)

Tell us about the support you receive from your work-based learning advisor and the teaching team.

I have calls scheduled with my Work-Based Learning Advisor (WBLA) roughly every month to discuss my progress and my concerns. I can reach out to them anytime if I have issues, but the monthly check-up helps and affirms that the support structure is there.

The WBLA's also assist with managing your portfolio of workplace learning evidence. They ensure you are meeting required deadlines and structuring your evidence in the way that will benefit you most for your final year dissertation. It is one of those things that when things are going well you don’t think much about the WBLA's but when you start having issues they are always on hand and ready to help.

How do you juggle working and studying full-time? What advice can you give?

Working and studying full-time is intense. There's a lot of work to be done and you will find some weeks you have to give up either your weekday evenings or chunks of the weekend.

The advice I would give would be to get ahead of the university work early to keep stress levels low, and set the expectations with your manager and team right from the start. The WBLA are a great help for giving you advice early on when dealing with the workplace.

I treat it a bit like a gym routine, where you have certain tasks you want to complete and set the days to do them. Then you get to have cheat days where you can fully focus on relaxing and recharging.

What would you say to companies considering recruiting or putting existing staff through an apprenticeship degree?

An apprentice is someone who knows what they are signing up for. It's someone who is looking to enter a working role to gain experience in that field or industry. In my experience, they have always been very keen and motivated learners who are excited to work hard and gain meaningful experience.

As I have heard echoed by numerous apprentice managers in my firm, apprentices add increasing value over time, you get out of them what you are willing to put in.

It does not take 4 years and the final result to benefit your team, apprentices are constantly learning and adapting to meet the expectations of a business professional. I have been here almost 3 years and I am considered a full member of my team, just with a little less knowledge and experience.

Find out more about our IT: Software Development Graduate Apprenticeship

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