'I had never experienced a full-time job'

Reece Carroll, one of the UK's #InspiringApprentices, got stuck into his apprenticeship when he started 10 months ago

Reece Carroll would like to stay on with his employer after his apprenticeship

My name is Reece Carroll, I am 20 years old and live in Ryhope, a village within the City of Sunderland.

I am completing a level 4 cyber-security risk-analyst apprenticeship provided by Learning Curve, and Newcastle Building Society employs me. I am 10 months into the apprenticeship.

My first experience of finding out about an apprenticeship was during college when completing my A levels. Many career fairs took place within the college, but they mainly focused on applying for university. I  did come across one rare careers fair for apprenticeships, although very few employers were in attendance at that time.

News: Two-thirds of businesses plan to grow apprenticeships

Need to know: How apprentices became fewer and older

#InspiringApprentices: Read their stories 

My own research

By speaking to those employers, I was able to grasp an idea of the different levels of apprenticeship, each requiring a particular set of grades or Ucas points.

I took this information and carried out my own research to understand which types of apprenticeship were available in my area and what they entailed.

I did not have many expectations of an apprenticeship in the first place due to never having experiencing a full-time job while learning. I was very excited to start to learn new things.

My day-to-day work involves a variety of tasks such as researching future trends, solutions, frameworks and standards, as well as any potential improvements we can suggest to help protect, detect, improve and maintain availability of the company’s infrastructure. Some of these tasks are aligned to my apprenticeship objectives.

I am given the flexibility to put a day aside to focus purely on my apprenticeship to enhance my learning by using various online platforms, which provide the content for me to put this knowledge into practice.

I very much enjoy the work. The environment is great with a positive and supportive team there to increase both my knowledge and understanding. The flexibility is great. I am allowed two volunteer days a year along with swap days to experience what it would be like to be in another department.

The best thing I have learnt so far is the importance of exposure: making sure to get involved with as many meetings and events as possible and discussing important topics with other departments. The exposure to colleagues has allowed me to have face-to-face meetings to understand how they play a big part in the organisation. Furthermore, it has given me an idea of who to contact if concerns arise, or if I would like to know anything further about a system, for example.

Earning and learning together is an advantage because the combination of both of those together gives me the sense that what I am learning is being valued by my department and the company.

Team support

My line manager catches up with me monthly about any concerns and my progression so far. If I have any immediate problems, I can speak to them as soon as I need to. My team respect the opinions and ideas I put forward, always considering them.

While my friends at university have always-changing timetables, mine is fixed and I do not have to adapt in that way.

My friends and family are supportive of my choice to do an apprenticeship, and are happy that I am getting somewhere financially and working my way up the career ladder.

After my apprenticeship, I would like to be kept on within the business, using my knowledge and putting it into practice.

I would always recommend an apprenticeship – whether you wanted to experience college/A levels first or go straight in from school, either option would pay off provided you researched the apprenticeship and ensured the route was the best fit for you.

Reece Carroll is completing a level 4 cyber-security risk-analyst apprenticeship provided by Learning Curve and Newcastle Building Society. He tells his story as part of the Tes #InsiringApprentices campaign

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