Scottish Apprenticeship Week: Mark’s story

Pauline Brown
Thursday 9 March 2017

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: Mark Cathro
Apprentice Role: IT Service Desk Analyst (Year 1)
Contract Start: August 2016
Contract End: July 2018

Mark on his first day

What I like most about my role here at the University of St Andrews is having the satisfaction of helping somebody in need. I am part of the IT Service Desk and we are the first line of support for students and staff. When people come to the front desk, and we are able to assist them with their problem, it is immensely satisfying knowing that I have assisted them, and that they are able to continue their studies/work with no problems.

The most memorable moment so far has to be student arrivals weekend. This is when all the students at the university can start moving into their accommodation.  The IT Service Desk team work that weekend to help all the students with connecting to the Wi-Fi and answering any IT questions they may have. It is a crazy amount of students that turn up over this weekend! Seeing them all excited to start a new chapter in their life and for us to be there and help was great.

I can still remember my first couple of weeks here at the university. I was slightly worried about if this was the right place for me. With all the different problems that can come up in IT, I was worried that it was all going to be too much for me to remember! But here in the IT Service Desk, we have a team of fantastic teachers. All of them have helped me greatly in my development.

Mark and fellow colleagues visit Microsoft’s Customer Immersion Experience in Edinburgh (and also get a quick opportunity to enjoy the amazing views!)

Before I started here at the University of St Andrews, I enjoyed computing but was never the high school ‘whizz kid’. But now I am able to troubleshoot students/staff IT problems and identify the best support team to assist them if needed. I am now able to remember all the procedures that we must follow and not need to look in the procedure documents! Yes! Also, I am now a lot more confident when it comes to speaking to people, especially over the phone. I was never a fan of talking to people over the phone, I couldn’t even speak to family members over the phone! But from being on the phones here at the IT Service Desk, I am so much more confident.

When I left school I didn’t have a clue what to do. I personally didn’t want to go onto more full time education, but knew you can’t just walk into a full time job straight after leaving High School. I had heard of apprenticeships but didn’t really know much about them. I applied to QA apprenticeships and was put forward for the job here –  and that was the best decision I think I could have made. What is better than learning a trade and also being paid to do so? And we’ll also get assistance with finding a full time job after the end of our apprenticeship. I think they are such a good opportunity for young people and I would 100% recommend doing an apprenticeship.

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