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Angus Cheney - Level 6 Digital and Technology Solutions Professional (Software Engineering) Degree Apprenticeship

Angus Cheney

Why did you choose to do an apprenticeship?

“After Sixth Form, I started working at a school as an IT Technician as part of a gap year. During this year, my priorities changed from wanting to do music, something I had already done for more than 10 years, to pursuing a career IT.

While working at the school, I researched the options I had to continue my career in IT – without any official qualifications in the subject! I came up with the following three options:

  1. Continue working at the school.
  2. Apply for university to study IT/Computer Science and hope my A Levels (Music, French, Music Technology and BTEC Music) would let me in.
  3. Use the experience I had gained from the school to apply for an apprenticeship, ideally at degree level.

I looked for apprenticeships that would be appropriate and found the Santander Degree Apprenticeship in Digital and Technology Solutions and applied. This scheme has rotations and I therefore spent six or nine months in one team, then moved to a different area; which meant I gained experience in a wide range of areas and in the later stages, had control over where my placements were to get the skills and experience I wanted.

I  have now just completed my third year of the course and started as a permanent Software Engineer, a year earlier than expected. I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunities Santander has provided."

Over the course of the apprenticeship, I came to realise how fortunate I was to be able to undertake it; a four-year degree, four years of work experience in a relevant industry, all while being paid and having the tuition fees covered.

How do you believe the apprenticeship will affect both your current job role and future career?

“This apprenticeship has allowed me to try a variety of IT roles to discover what I like and what I don’t like; I went into the apprenticeship with a different idea of what I wanted to do and then discovered how much I enjoyed software engineering.

Studying a variety of placement related modules at university has allowed me to broaden my skills and improve my performance in the workplace. As I have just secured a permanent role working on the mobile app of one of the top five UK banks, I am looking forward to seeing where my career will go from here.”

How have you balanced studying alongside your professional role and how have you found the support from your employer?

“Balancing a full-time job and study has been one of the most challenging times in my life so far, but the rewards gained from the degree and the work experience will be well worth it! The key lesson I have learned is to not allow myself to properly relax until the work is done and submitted; taking breaks while working is important but courses like these do require a lot of time and effort to be successful.

Having one day a week to study is great and managing this time well can lead to completing coursework early. In addition to this, all the teams I have worked in have allowed me to work on coursework in downtime which is fantastic.”

"A higher/degree apprenticeship is ideal for someone who knows what job they want to do, what industry they want to be in, or both."

What skills and experience have you gained as part of this apprenticeship? Has there been anything that you were not expecting?

“At the start of the apprenticeship I had never written a line of code, but now I’m a professional software engineer. Alongside this, I have developed my soft skills such as stakeholder management and project planning. I was not expecting to become a software engineer as I originally wanted to follow the networking pathway.

When I got a placement in a team that worked closely with the networking team, I discovered it was not something I enjoyed as much in a corporate environment. I decided to use this placement to pivot into engineering; a move which I am very glad I made.”

What advice would you give to anyone considering a higher/ degree apprenticeship?

“I would say that a higher/degree apprenticeship is ideal for someone who knows what job they want to do, what industry they want to be in, or both. The work experience sets you up very well for continuing in an career or industry but does slightly alter future options compared to a traditional degree.

Also, the amount of work that is required means they might not be for everyone. Be prepared that you might not get the university social life because you may be studying remotely. That said, if you know what you want to do, it will give you a massive advantage taking an apprenticeship over a traditional degree course.”

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