I am Howard Jackson, 24, and from Liverpool. I started as a level 3 technical apprentice with IBM in 2015. Having completed this, I was offered the opportunity to start a degree apprenticeship in digital and technology solutions with Manchester Metropolitan University, I have been on this scheme since 2017 and will graduate in 2021.
I expected my apprenticeship to be very technical, involving either hardware, infrastructure, or a programming based role. This was an initial misconception that I had regarding IBM, and I soon realised that the company did much more than provide hardware.
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My apprenticeship has continuously exceeded expectations. This is largely due to the continued opportunities to learn and grow my skills while adding value and delivering for our business and clients.
I’m an IT project manager and consultant, helping financial services clients to deliver their complex IT transformation projects. My day-to-day work involves problem solving, risk mitigation and communication with the IBM, client and third-party project teams to ensure progress for the planned work, managing and overseeing overall delivery for all project deliverables.
Each day brings new challenges and opportunities to learn. As a consultant, I get to work with different organisations, and different IBM teams as I move between projects. Being exposed to many different colleagues in different working scenarios keeps me motivated and focused.
I have had the same line manager for five years and he has always supported me, championed and believed in me to help me be the best that I can be. I am well respected by others in the company, both on and off the job.
My favourite part of the job is helping to deliver solutions to the most complex IT problems and seeing the difference I can personally make to delivering projects. I work with some great colleagues, who are very supportive and enable me to continuously grow and develop, which is another amazing part of the job.
As a degree apprentice, I am studying at university alongside my job, which is a highly sought-after pathway. I try not to compare myself with others too much, and try to keep the focus on what I need to do to progress
My family were supportive and proud of my choices and my being selected to work for such a prestigious company. A number of my friends also opted to do apprenticeships, so it was nice that we went through that together, albeit in different fields.
While still a degree apprentice, I have been able to gain promotions that recognise my performance and contribution. My prospects after my apprenticeship are good. I will be able to take on more responsibility, manage larger teams and deliveries and continue to grow and develop myself.
I have aspirations to become an IBM executive. So hopefully, in a few years, I will be well on my way there.
Starting the apprenticeship has been the best decision I have ever made and I would fully endorse an apprenticeship to anyone currently considering their options – young or old.
Apprenticeships are for everyone, with various levels now available, so there really is something for everyone among the hundreds of frameworks and pathways.
Howard Jackson is a degree apprentice in digital and technology solutions with Manchester Metropolitan University. He tells his story as part of the Tes #InspiringApprentices campaign