First 12 Months as an IT Apprentice
Leaving Sixth Form is a scary time. What are you going to do with your life? University? Apprenticeship? When my time came I chose the latter. I was 18 years old; all my friends were preparing for university and I was working 4 nights a week as a kitchen porter in a local Italian restaurant staring into the realm of an unprepared future. After much contemplation, I visited the government Find an Apprenticeship service to see if I could find a path on which I could construct a skilled and potentially lucrative career. After scrolling past dozens of Hairdressing and Beauty apprenticeships, I found a vacancy that was right up my street. An IT apprenticeship 10 minutes’ walk from my house. This was certainly ideal proximity for commuting and I had a keen interest and 2 qualifications in IT. I applied, had an interview and a 1-week trial.
Fast forward a few days and I was offered the job. The first couple of weeks were certainly eventful and full of crucial life lessons. For starters, it soon came to my attention that hot Vimto is not a beverage one makes in a pint glass. However, after ironing out some of the creases (I must stress only some creases were ironed out), I was soon apprentice material and embarked on the journey towards qualified IT Consultancy – (and of course brew making)
Throughout the first few months of the apprenticeship there was a lot I could not fathom. What are MX records? What are Windows SBS Console and Active Directory? How do you set up an RDP? What do the results from an ipconfig mean? It wasn’t long until I understood all this through appropriate tuition and shadowing from both Tony and Dominic. Within these first few months I was also tasked with answering the phone for the first time. I can safely say this was a terrifying experience at first. All kinds of thoughts ran through my mind. It was soon apparent that these thoughts were completely unnecessary and that clients aren’t as bad as I expected. After some vocabulary cleansing and cutting out slang, I was soon competent at answering the phones. It wasn’t long until I found myself solving some of the problems clients had. This filled me a sense of euphoria and elation which built the foundations to my new-found confidence.
The following 6 months were comprised of learning on the job and visits from a tutor who helped me complete work for a social media course. These visits took place at 2 week and 4 week intervals. I flew through the course and spent the majority of the time answering phone calls, going out on site with Tony or Dominic, assisting with email moves and carrying out requests sent to me via email. It soon came to fruition that I was starting to understand and learn a lot faster. Like a domino effect, learning one thing lead to another and another. It would be accurate to say I learned more in the first 9 months of my apprenticeship than I learned in the 2-year IT course I took at Sixth Form. It wasn’t long until I had to use these newly adopted skills in domestic life consolidating my position as the “Family IT Guy” – Something they don’t tell you in the job description!
The last 3 months have seen me carry out support for people over the phone and email without the need of heavy assistance from Tony or Dominic. If I answer the phone and the client’s problem is intermediate, the likelihood is I will be able to solve the problem either over the phone or remotely with little or no advice needed from my colleagues. If the problem involves programs I have no experience with such as Sage or ACT, I can either forward the call on to Tony or Dominic or ask them to talk me through the solution. This is a strong indication of how far I have advanced in the past 12 months. Transforming from a kitchen porter with two IT BTEC’s to a fairly competent beginner IT Consultant – much to my colleague’s relief!
What would my advice be to someone considering and apprenticeship? I would not hesitate to recommend it. It provides you with a step into the world of work whilst offering you training to help you carry out the job; which just can’t be taught at school. All this and getting paid! The past year has been a huge enlightenment with appropriate and easy to understand tuition in the work place. I can honestly say I am relieved I chose an apprenticeship over university.