1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
The Degree Apprentice scheme at SSE is structured so we each spend 6 months in an area of IT and then rotate to another team once that time is up. So far on the programme I have been in 2 application support teams and a project management team. The tasks and responsibilities can be quite varied across the rotations because of the nature of the team. From experience some teams appear very busy which sometimes makes it hard for you to get involved in what they're doing.However, if there is work you can complete managers are more than open to the idea of giving you work to complete. I really enjoy the way the scheme is structured not only because of the variety of roles you get to experience but also interacting with different people. It's nice to be able to walk round the office saying hello to people rather than knowing nobody.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
I have learnt a variety of different skills whilst on the programme, not just at University but in the office too. Colleagues are always willing to show you how to do something if you aren't too sure what you are doing. As well as the obvious academic skills, I have also developed my soft skills as a result of working here. I feel like I am now more confident and find it easy to intergrate into a new team of people. In the first year of my apprenceship I attended a variety of internal courses which continue to prove useful as I rotate to different teams.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
On the whole, I thoroughly enjoy the programme and the fact that I can earn my degree whilst in a workplace that interested me. As I have previously said the work load and associated responsibilities varies across the rotations. I enjoy coming to work a lot more when I know I will have plenty of work to do that directly effects the team and not just doing tasks that have been devised to give me something to do. Having said that, when I am busy I love having the responsibility and pressure of people needing me to complete work.
4. How valued do you feel by SSE?
On a small scale I feel like I am valued by each of the teams I've been to who appreciate the work I do for them. Being given more work and responsibilities makes me feel more valued by the team and gives me confidence that they believe I'll do a good job. However, on a larger scale it feels like my performance on the whole is not recognised as much as it could by SSE. It seems like after I've finished my rotation my performance goes unnoticed by everyone else apart from the placement manager.
5. How well organised/structured is your programme?
The initial induction for the scheme is great. This year they allowed second year apprentices to design the induction process which meant it only included the stuff that was beneficial to us. Each apprentice is also assigned a mentor who checks in with us regularly to make sure we are okay. It's really nice to go to them with a problem if you don't want to address your manager directly. They are also happy to help with any problems you have or even help out with any work you are struggling with. Some teams seem more prepared for an apprentice which means some rotations feel less organised than others whilst you wait to be given some work.
6a. How much support do you receive from your training provider?
The training provider for the scheme is Chichester University who are equally as good for providing support as SSE. We are also assigned a tutor a uni who schedules regular meetings to check that we are finding the course okay. They're happy to escalate any problems and offer academic advise. A Degree Apprentice course is probably quite different for the module tutors compared to what they usually teach but they adapt their teaching in a way that supports our one day a week at uni.
6b. How much support do you receive from your employer?
SSE offer a great deal of support and are fully accepting of the pressures we have from rotations managers and university. In the past they have allowed for extra time during the working week to complete uni work when it was something we were finding challenging. On top of that we are also allowed to work on university work for a set number of hours a week to allow us to have more free time at home.
7. How well does your salary/package meet your costs?
The starting wage for the scheme is good considering our degree is being funded.My wage allows me to pay for my living costs and travel to work whilst also saving a bit every month. There's a number of employee extras including share schemes which are available shortly after you start. However, when I signed up for the scheme I was under the impression the salary would be a gradual increase rather than going from aprox £16,000 for 4 years to circa £28,000 when the scheme is over. In my opinion more would be expected from a second year apprentice than that of someone who has just started and should be rewarded with a gradual pay increase. I feel like my progression at work and my good university grades should be rewarded with a bonus or some other form of incentive to carry on achieving.In some teams you are expected to do the same job as someone doing it as their full time job but being paid considerably less for doing so.
8. Are there many opportunities outside of work?
There are a number of additional events that employees can complete outside of work. My favourite is the Be the Difference day where SSE will pay you a days wage to go and volunteer at one of the large events available to us. These can range from sorting clothes for a charity or mending animal shelters at Marwell Zoo.
9. Would you recommend SSE to a friend?
I would definitely recommend SSE to a friend and anyone else who is interested in an IT apprenticeship. The 6 month structuring of the scheme means that you can experience a wide variety of roles before deciding which area you'd like to specialise in. The SSE 'family' culture makes you feel like you are fully supported.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to SSE?
My main tips for someone applying for the scheme would to be to:
Ask as many questions as you want. The interviews should be for finding out whether you want to work here as well not just whether SSE want to employ you. Do some research beforehand to make sure this sort of scheme is right for you. SSE have a blogs page on their site so it's probably best to read that to give you an idea of what the scheme is like. Don't be put off from joining because SSE is a large business.
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