1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
I am Currently working as a software test analyst. The majority of my time in work is spent creating test scenarios and test scripts based on business requirements and then executing the scripts. I also liaise with project stakeholders to ensure high quality delivery of the system.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
I have predominantly gained knowledge in testing. I am now confident that I am an efficient software tester. I have also expereinced working with business analysts, solution architects, software developers, third parties and HR.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
For the first 6 months of my apprenticeship I found that a framework had not been put in place. It was difficult to find any work to take part in or to develop my knowledge as the apprentices were not taken into account when it came to project resourcing. Due to the lack of planning, I found it hard to integrate into the testing team; it was also difficult to complete all apprenticeship based work as I had no evidence or experiences to base my work upon. Through my own initiative I managed to get involved in projects but did find that I had to work twice as hard as I had to learn all processes and procedures along side catching up with my apprencticeship work and trying to create a network for myself to ensure that I wasn't in the position of having no work again. Through the help of a few individuals in the testing team, I was able to prove that I am competent and I am now constantly resourced to projects and have gained the expereince I needed for the apprenticeship to benefit me. I still find that management within test services are not fully involved in the apprenticeship programme and sometimes overlook the apprentices when reffering to the team. During the first year of the apprenticeship, the apprentices spent the first 4 weeks at the academy completing the knowledge based part of the level 3 qualification. This then meant that all other apprenticeship work could be acheived with evidence of work that met the requiremtents and ensured that the apprentices were able to find the time to complete the level 3 qualification. During the second year, we have been attending the academy every other Friday. This means that we are completeing much harder work alongisde a more demanding work load within a shorter time scale which is not efficent and has caused a lot of stress. We have also at times been asked to miss sessions of 3aaa to asist in project delivery. I personally spent 2 and a half months away from the academy due to a very demanding work load which in turn caused me to miss 5 sessions of academy time while also working over time at the weekends. I then had to catch up with all my apprenticeship work along side my demanding work load which lead to me not having any time where I wasn't doing some form of work until around 9 o'clock each night.
4. How valued do you feel by Co-op?
I feel valued by the network I have made. I do not, on the other hand, feel valued by the co-operative management.
5. How well organised/structured is your programme?
As stated, the testing team should have put more effort into creating an apprenticeship structure to avoid the issue of the apprentices having no work and the apprenticeship not benefiting them.
6a. How much support do you receive from your training provider?
3AAA have been fully supportive in our training programme. We have always recieved the resources we need to complete our apprenticeship work. The only issue that has occured with the training programme is the frequency of the sessions we attend.
6b. How much support do you receive from your employer?
I believe we recieve full support from our training provider Doris. Doris have constantly pushed management to ensure that the apprentices are taken into account when resourcing and to ensure intergration into the team. We have had weekly 1-2-1's for the past 20 months which incorporate working on our soft skills, personal development, professional development and are also used for the apprentices to raise any issues we are having in or outside of work to which we always recieve a positive response. Any queries we have for Doris are answered to the best of their ability.
7. How well does your salary/package meet your costs?
Compared to other apprenticeships - the salary is quite high. Compared to the average salary of a test analyst though, the salary is very low. At times it can be very frustrating when you are working just as hard or in some cases harder than the other test analysts but not making nearly as much money. It is also quite difficult for overtime as the wage we earn by doing 1 weekend really only covers the price of a taxi home.
8. Are there many opportunities outside of work?
Using linkedin, I have been approached by quite a few companies looking for Test Analysts. There are also a range of oppurtunities with Doris if we wish to stay on.
9. Would you recommend Co-op to a friend?
For an apprenticeship - no. The negatives massively outweight the positives. The lack of support and gudience from the company, which should be the basis of any apprenticeship, made the experience unenjoyable and any benefits which were recieved were from our own initiative.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to Co-op?
When taking on apprentices, ensure the are that they will be working in will have a framework in place to ensure the apprenticeship is beneficial and that the apprentices are able to gain knowledge.
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