1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
I am currently an Advanced Apprentice in the Security Operations Centre. More specifically, I am training in the Firewall tech stream. As 1st line support, my role consists mainly of Incident Handling, (i.e. making sure that there is enough info provided in the ticket to progress the call and run some basic diagnostics before escalating to 2nd line if required), Health Checks and also some basic Troubleshooting. I am currently on a 24x7 shift rotation pattern, and I am the team lead for my shift.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
Before I started in this role, although I had a strong interest in IT and Cyber Security, I had next to no technical experience or practical skills. Now I am confident in operating numerous programmes; I have a good understanding of networking principles; I have an understanding of different operating systems and how to use CLIs; I am currently studying for multiple certifications, including Network+ and Security+, and I am also certified to use numerous systems at admin level.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
Initially I would have rated this 10/10, however over the last 3 to 4 months my level of job satisfaction has dropped quite a bit. I can attribute this to being on an unsociable shift pattern. Although this pattern actually gives me far more time off than if I were on a 9-5, I am very career focused, and I am finding it increasingly difficult to progress my technical abilities. I aspire to be an integral and experienced member of the Firewall team here at Fujitsu, however I feel like that goal is becoming further and more difficult to reach. I enjoyed being on an apprenticeship because I found myself working under experienced engineers on a daily basis with a lot to offer. This experience has been cut short in my view.
4. How valued do you feel by Fujitsu?
I feel relatively well valued by Fujitsu. Although my role is only a low paid 1st line one, I understand that each role in the company plays a part in ensuring the overall success and smooth running of the entire operation. There have been times when I have felt like my input has been genuinely valued, and I know that in time I will become a more integral part of the team. the company also spends a lot of money providing things like security clearance, technical training, travel costs and so on, and these are all things that wouldn't be provided if they had need for me.
5. How well organised/structured is your programme?
I feel like the programme is quite unstructured. this in a sense is quite good, as it allows for the flexibility to cross train in different technical areas. There are also times that the workload in the SOC is very demanding, and so not having to meet any strict deadlines with the official coursework portfolio is a real relief. that being said, I feel like a more structured 'on the job' training plan would be very beneficial. We're currently given bits of training on whatever bit of work the team need doing, which does give you a broad understanding of what is going on, however I feel like we are failing to specialise in our designated streams due to a lack of exposure to it, and maybe over exposure to other, although useful, different technologies.
6a. How much support do you receive from your training provider?
We've not really had much in terms of exposure to our official training provider. To be honest, we don't really need it, as the most valuable training has thus far been provided on the job. I feel like the YouTrain could perhaps do more in the way of setting out expectations of the skills and capabilities that we are expected to meet. This added structure would probably help to influence how we are trained in work, possibly adding more structure to the overall learning experience.
6b. How much support do you receive from your employer?
I feel like the amount of support I have been receiving has decreased as of late. Most of my shifts are now either nights or weekends, with only 5 proper 'working' days spent in the company of more experienced engineers. This lack of exposure to the real workplace, I feel, is holding me back tremendously. I do realise that there is the opportunity for me to advance my technical rating and eventually return to a normal working pattern, however this has now become more reliant on independent study and self teaching, and also cross skilling from the other members of my team. This issue is compounded by the fact that most of my team are also apprentices, who can only impart so much knowledge to the best of their ability. Ever since our exposure to the core teams was reduced, I have noticed a lack of direction and focus in not just myself, but also the other apprentices.
7. How well does your salary/package meet your costs?
For an apprentice, the money is fantastic. I can confidently say that we are some of the highest paid apprentices in the country. This is the first real job I've ever had, and the increase in income has benefitted me tremendously. We also receive an increase, (which I shall not disclose here), for working unsociable hours. This is not as high as guidelines suggest, but it is pretty nice. We do have a very high workload, and I feel that, if we are expected to meet, (and in some cases exceed), the same standards and quantity of work as other engineers who may have more experience or qualifications, then we should be paid the same also. I will refrain from naming several people who earn double my salary who I am confident that I outperform on a regular basis.
8. Are there many opportunities outside of work?
There are plenty of opportunities that the apprenticeship scheme here offer outside of work, however I often find myself either unable to take time off for, (through my own choosing, I'd like to make clear. I do prioritise my work over other opportunities, perhaps to my detriment), or occurring on my rest days, (weird rota...) I took part in a very rewarding workshop in primary school, teaching the very basic principles of programming to year 5/6s, (it was Angry Birds,; they loved it!). There are lots of opportunities like this that I hope to take part in in the future, before I leave the programme. Fujitsu also does a really great deal for Action For Children, and affiliated charity, and there are events and fundraisers of one kind or another on an almost monthly basis.
9a. Would you recommend Fujitsu to a friend? *
9b. Why? *
Although I have my own issues with the apprenticeship and Fujitsu, overall I'd be lying if I didn't say that this was an amazing company to work for. The opportunities available for progression are generally very good, and there is always room for people to move across tech streams or even departments. Whilst I am currently unhappy with working on shifts, I am also very aware that this is only temporary until I am qualified enough to move up in the team. I only hope that this comes sooner rather than later. If you're coming to Fujitsu not as an apprentice, then the benefits are even better. I hear that the grad scheme pays ridiculously well.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to Fujitsu? *
Be friendly. Be confident. Take every day as it comes. If you can understand and accept that even the shit jobs are an important part of shaping your skills and character and paving the way for a successful career, then you'll do well. Cyber Security is a booming industry, and one which can only become more important. As long as you have an interest in new technologies and new ways of looking at them, as well as an aptitude for analytics, then you're going to do okay in a very interesting and pretty well paying industry. Also, make sure you have an answer for the question, "If you were a biscuit, what biscuit would you be?"
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