Why did you choose to do an apprenticeship?
I knew IT was something I was interested in, but I didn’t really think it was possible because I didn’t have any background or experience. And so when I found out that you could do it without any prior qualifications, I went for it. So now I do automation, which is awesome. You get the confidence. And now I’m doing things I didn’t think I’d ever be able to do, which is awesome.
How did you find the onboarding process?
It was surprisingly easy and straightforward. I was quite surprised by how supportive everyone was and part of me was a bit worried about “do I know enough?” Because I know people who work in IT and they sort of live and breathe it. I was just worried that I wouldn’t know enough to contribute to conversations, but it wasn’t like that at all. Everyone was just supportive and welcoming, and I was never made to feel like I wasn’t supposed to be there or didn’t know enough.
What was your favourite thing about the apprenticeship? Did you have any favourite topics?
I think meeting people, I really enjoyed the group activity side of it. I felt like I was in a group of like-minded people all at the same level, so that was nice, touching base, seeing people going through the same stuff and it made you feel like there’s people to talk to if you’re struggling.
Topic-wise, I’ve done quite a bit of web development and building web forms. I enjoyed that the most because it’s what I was actually doing at work. I love the fact that you could learn something on a Wednesday and then actually work and implement your skills. It wasn’t like uni where you learn it, but you have to wait for a job to actually see if you’re any good or not! And you realize that you are capable- you can actually do what you’ve learned and it’s not all scary.
Have you experienced any struggles as a woman trying to enter the tech industry? How did you overcome these?
I was quite nervous because even in the job I’m in now, it’s predominantly male. So the main worry is where you fit in, because you want to get on with your colleagues- there’s the job and then there’s the social side of it. And there was a bit of worry as to whether I would be able to contribute to conversations and be at their level. But they treat you as part of the team and maybe even as a female I bring new ideas that they didn’t have. And we all bounce ideas off each other. I was quite nervous, but they were just really welcoming. So my initial anxieties faded away, it was great.
Also we think IT, we think behind the scenes- you don’t associate it with being very sociable so I was surprised as to how much interaction I actually have now with outside parties as well, because you’re the centre of the trust really, and more and more people are relying on us. So you get to talk to all walks of life and so I think having the men and women- we all contribute the same way.
How do you think women are represented in the tech industry?
Before I joined IT, I associated with it as quite male-dominated, so I think if people were more aware of how they could contribute, and that you don’t need to have all this prior knowledge and anyone can get into it and be an asset, that would make a difference, if people were more aware of how much opportunity there is out there.
I think if I’d known beforehand what the job would be like and what the apprenticeship was like- you get to learn at a steady pace. It’s not scary. If it is something you want to get into, this is the best way to do it, I would say. You learn at your own pace and once you have these skills they are very transferable, you can go into any area that you want. Essentially, you’re set for life. There are plenty of opportunities out there in such an expanding field. Having the opportunity and understanding where the opportunity leads- I had no idea where I would end up, but if I’d known that it would be where I am now, I would have been even more excited. Honestly, the more diverse the better because the job is all about problem-solving, so you don’t have to worry about whether you fit in or not. It’s bringing your own unique ability and your own skills to it. Everyone’s so different. That’s what’s good about it.
What would your dream IT role be?
I would say the role I’m in now. It’s helping the trust by automating processes. It’s going to be something that will save time and money. And it’s a team that they want to expand as well. So I think we’re potentially going to be making a lot of difference to people and to be involved at this quite early stage as well is exciting, because we’re sort of paving the way for more people who will join us.
How did you find the overall training and support did you receive?
The pace of it was perfect. It wasn’t too overbearing, it was a great mix of study and then working as well. I’d have one or two sessions a week, you always had enough time to work on your assignments and projects. I think that’s why I enjoyed it so much, because I never once felt like I was behind on anything, it wasn’t overwhelming.
Support-wise that was great. I had Connor and Adam, and I knew if I had any trouble I could drop them an email and they would reply straight away and help. They gave good feedback as well throughout. So if you go wrong in a certain area or if they think you could improve on something, they always let you know. So you’re guaranteed to succeed if you put in the work. If it’s something you want to do and you enjoy it, go for it.
What advice would you give to other women considering a career in the IT/Cyber industry?
Just take the leap. I was so nervous beforehand- I saw it as a bit of a risk in case I didn’t enjoy it, but if it’s something you’re interested in, just go for it. I think you’d be surprised as to how enjoyable it is as well. And because it’s being relied on more and more now you actually are making a difference. The job I’m in, people are so grateful for the work we do. So you can be proud of the work that you do, you can make a difference. It’s more rewarding than I ever thought it would be.