1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
Creating and designing diagrams for systems to then be built by the cloud teams. My role includes creating information flows and details about how a system operates and runs, I haven't yet had the opportunity to have any of these diagrams implemented but hopefully that stage comes soon. This is my 5th placement in the business but one of the ones I have enjoyed the most.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
Developed my skills in system architecture and design, currently the university is teaching us how to create systems for customers but the placement at work has managed to teach modern standards as opposed to the university's mostly outdated methods. I have been able to see the disparity between university education and the 'real world' of business and how to connect the two.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
I enjoy creating and facilitating large/important tasks and projects but I usually have to work hard to organise these opportunities for myself. I don't always feel challenged in my placement and I typically do not have enough support in my placements. I often think that there is an ulterior motive for some teams to have an additional team member that they do not have to pay for which makes me a bit dissatisfied. I also find that other DAs performance tends to affect my experience, with some previous apprentices either raising or lowering the standards which I am then set against.
I also worry about the reputation of the apprentices in the business as much of the attitude towards us is mixed.
4. How well organised/structured is your programme?
Repeated or poorly chosen placements within the business, office politics and external office factors have impacted which placement I have gone into and what work I do. Many of my placements are not prepared for me and do not have a learning/objective plan.
We have been told that there is a plan that has been taylored to our learning but my most recent placement was chosen by me from two choices in an area that I had already experienced. I managed to facilitate one of my placements under the previous manager but now I am worried that I will not get a placement that I find useful for my development. I also know that other apprentices are dissatisfied with their journey so far for similar reasons.
5. How much support do you receive from your employer?
One manager between ~40 people, my mentor is punctual and often available but typically won't be able to do much about changing the scheme. I have mixed support from the teams I go into, some take a fairly lassez faire attitude to my learning and others I work quite closely with. Often I find I'm placed in a team that all perform the same job but for different parts of the business, and there are sometimes discrepancies between team members about how to work in that team.
I have found that one of the more frustrating parts of the placements are that I'm often creating my own objectives within the first week of being in the team, I'm not often sure what constitutes as a good objective within that team and I struggle to find a means of determining progress. Other placements will give me recycled objectives that often don't apply to me (once I had a target to complete the permit to drive, despite not having a car, or a licence), they will even ask me to just swap out my name with the previous apprentice.
6. How much support do you receive from your training provider when working towards your qualifications?
We are allowed 4 hours a week to work on university projects during office hours but the resources provided by the office are lacking heavily. I have needed a piece of software that the uni cannot provide for a while with no response to this request.
The university have an interesting collection of resources when it comes to programming but they are all books, which are not always the best medium for learning programming. I have had to make additional requests to get access to software that is required for one of the modules I am completing.
7. How well do you feel that your qualification (through your training provider) helps you to perform better in your role?
A lot of the information is outdated, through my own learning (sometimes facilitated by the university) I can pick up skills which will then help me in my placement but often the training is not sufficient. I have found some use in the soft skills modules when it comes to communicating and working together in a team within the company but this is a rarity.
8. Are there extra-curricular activities to get involved in at your work? (For example, any social activities, sports teams, or even professional networking events.)
There are some social activities available but none really appeal. There is plenty of opportunity to expand professionally. There is a bit of confusion over how much SSE supports the membership of this training and I have to chase the details of how much the company is involved.
There is also quite a good process for creating your own social activity and then inviting others to that, SSE cannot be faulted for this at all but unfortunately I find that between university and work I struggle to find the time to engage.
9a. Would you recommend SSE to a friend?
The scheme is, at the moment, disorganised. It is apparent that more students on the scheme would result in a tipping point. The university side leaves much to be desired as well, with little to no social opportunities and outdated concepts being taught.
The company has great values and an incredibly friendly atmosphere, but the scheme is still in a learning stage for how best to organise the programme.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to SSE?
Be prepared to facilitate your own learning to get ahead, take as many opportunities outside as you can and be persistent when unsatisfied within your placement, as it's only with persistence that anything will change.
Many universities offer opportunity to work with new and interesting technologies and this is something I was eager to explore, but there isn't any kind of option for this at the university, nor is there much opportunity to explore the social side of university. If either of those things is a dealbreaker for you, then the scheme is not advisable.
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