Greg assisting a student at the IT Help point in the Main Library
To celebrate Scottish Apprenticeship Week, we wanted to take the opportunity to share some of the stories, thoughts and experiences of our current and former IT Apprentices (as we’re incredibly proud of them!).
Apprentice: Greg Jennings
Contract start: July 2015
Contract end: July 2017
Apprentice role: IT Service Desk Analyst
I believe choosing an apprenticeship was the best career move for me, especially now I can reflect on it. The experience and knowledge I have gained over the period I have been at St Andrews has massively increased, whilst allowing me to take it in at a steady pace. The courses (provided by QA) along with the valuable exposure of day to day operations in IT has allowed me to excel in my interests and focus on progressing my skills as much as possible. This is a very unique experience that gives you a sense of responsibility, whilst working as part of a team that are highly equipped with different skill sets. This combination along with the help and support of my colleagues has allowed me to reach my goals and continue to set targets for myself which I know I can accomplish. This is what I believe sets an apprenticeship apart from a university or college experience.
If I was to write down all the things I have learned throughout my time at St Andrews, it would be a never ending list! One thing I have learned for sure is that in IT, there is never a day you are not learning. Because my day to day job covers such a vast array of things, there is always something new to experience and learn from.
August 2016: Greg was runner-up Microsoft Apprentice of the Year
With the collaboration of the courses I have attended through QA (our training provider) and the constant learning experience of day to day life in St Andrews, I feel as if I have progressed a massive amount since my first day. Not only has it allowed me to develop my IT knowledge and skills, it has also helped me develop personally, both with my confidence in challenging situations and independence when dealing with certain tasks. As I did join the apprenticeship scheme straight from school, I did not have the best idea of what working life involved, but by looking back now I know I have done the best I can – especially with the amazing support of my manager and IT Service Desk team.
From day one, I was guaranteed to be exposed to as much as possible, to boost my confidence and prepare me for life after the apprenticeship comes to an end. Throughout my time here, as well as being exposed to service desk duties, I have experienced a period with the Desktop Technicians, Media Services team, Computer Science (preparing a computer classroom for start of a semester) and was also with Shackleton Technologies (Dundee Technology Park) for a week’s placement to get more awareness of how other IT organisations operate, and the differences in what they do. I would say Shackleton was a great learning curve for me personally, as it allowed exposure to new clients, systems and procedures. It also on occasions drew me out of my comfort zone to deal with certain things I hadn’t experienced before, which again was great for my development.
I would say working at the University of St Andrews in itself is a very unique experience. When I first received notice of being asked to interview for a position here I was overjoyed. I have always thought of the University of St Andrews as being a very prestigious town, and working there would just be incredible, especially just after leaving school. As the university has students coming from all over the globe to study here, I had to quickly adapt to their different needs, especially if they didn’t speak the language very well. I love the feeling of satisfaction when knowing you’ve done your best to help someone, and they’ve went away happy knowing their issue is no longer a problem. It’s a strange feeling working here and thinking about it like it’s normal, because a University’s IT department is like no other. I found this out when I spent a week at Shackleton Technologies, and how different everything is.
Once my apprenticeship comes to an end, ideally, I’d like another couple of years experience at a IT service desk. I still think I can improve on a lot of aspects of my job, and I’d like the time to focus on those before I progress in my career. In the long term I see a bright future in IT, hopefully working in an area that I enjoy most (which at the moment stands between cyber security and networking). In my opinion, there’s never a dull moment or a moment where you’re not learning something in IT, and I feel that experience one of the key aspects that will help me progress further in the field.
I would highly recommend the apprenticeship scheme to any young people that aren’t certain on a future career path after school or college. It’s a great way to gain valuable experience and knowledge of the industry, and you get paid to do it!