A chat with Thomas Barber
What is your name?
What is your current job Role and Team name?
Apprentice Application Developer – Application Development Team.
What apprenticeship are you studying and what does it involve?
Level 6 – Digital and Technology Solutions (Software Engineering) Degree Apprenticeship with Staffordshire University.
It involves working in the Application Development team, creating apps from user requirements documentation, testing apps including creating and completing test plans, and creating user guides and training material for completed apps. It also involves resolving issues with existing apps if required, as well as making any changes to apps currently in development.
The degree involves studying a common path in the first year, before branching out into the Software Engineering pathway in the 2nd and 3rd years, with the ability to do some optional units from other pathways such as Cyber Security or Networking, or specialising with further Software Engineering units, if wanted. The degree offers the opportunity to build up a portfolio of work-based projects that can be talked about and showcased as part of the final assessment, before completion of the apprenticeship. By the end of it, it should have the knowledge and skills to become a permanent member of the Application Development Team.
Why did you choose an apprenticeship?
It was an opportunity to move into a new team, to learn on the job and gain an academic qualification as well, I wanted the ability to learn on the job and apply my academic learning in a work environment. I also couldn’t refuse the opportunity to gain a degree while working, earning a wage, and not having to take on any further student debt! For me, learning on the job, allows me to apply academic knowledge to real world situations, thereby allowing me to see how what I am studying works in the workplace, thereby helping me to understanding the academic assignments faster and with a deeper understanding.
What has been your greatest achievement while working on your apprenticeship?
I’m currently only halfway through the first year, but have already worked on a couple of applications, with colleagues, that are now awaiting release, after I completed the test plans for them and resolved the issues brought up in testing. I’ve achieved Distinctions in my first semester units so far, and am developing my time management skills and study skills, to gain as much knowledge as possible, and make the most of the opportunities afforded to me as a university student.
What would you like to do when your apprenticeship finishes?
I would like to get a full time, permanent job in the Application Development team.
What would you say to anyone considering an apprenticeship?
It’s a really good opportunity, if you’ve been out of academic study for a while, be prepared mentally when going back into it. Manage your time well, ask for help from the university and employer if you start getting overwhelmed. I’m finding it’s taking time for me to develop a good work-life balance, but I find if I manage my time well, I have adequate time for my job, study and free time each week, in a good balance. It’s a lot of work, but it’s an opportunity you shouldn’t pass up if you get the chance. At the end of it, you’ll have several years of quality employment experience, an academic qualification, and the possibility of a full time, permanent role.