1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
When I first joined, I was put through a training bootcamp for a few months and now spent my time doing project work for clients. My day involves daily standups to keep track of my team's agile programming strategy before carrying on with the day's tasks. The flexibility of our hours means that I can chose to work longer some days to finish early on others. Most of my learning is on the job through asking questions and giving things a go. There's a very friendly atmosphere encouraging knowledge sharing from the highest level down to the lowest.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
Definitely! Often at a university, one learns outdated topics and only in theory. The hands on experience and approachability of the friendly industry experts at the workplace means I am always able to get thorough, relevant answers and guidance. We're all on the same team and use that knowledge to work together. These can then be translated into skills that surpass what can be taught in a classroom environment. If anyone is an expert in a certain area from soft skills to a niche engineering skill, the sharing of that knowledge is greatly encouraged. For those who are hungry to learn, their colleagues are often their greatest information source.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
The work is engaging and challenging while our expertise in unique fields mean we often have to solves problems that haven't been reached yet. The friendliness of the employees encourage knowledge sharing and collaboration while the numerous clubs provide lots of pizza and opportunities to spend time with like minded people. I was surprised to find that even senior engineers found time to help me out when I first joined. This was quite unexpected as one would assume they are too busy for juniors. I've thoroughly loved my experience here so far and am looking forward to the future.
4. How well organised/structured is your programme?
The initial bootcamp included a few months of training and introduction to the workplace, the procedures and what's expected of us before we were put onto projects. We could perhaps have received more structured training after that but still learn a lot from being left to work our jobs. The line mangers and other team members also provide constant support and helpful advice or answers to questions that we may have.
5. How much support do you receive from your employer?
We all have line mangers who offer abundant support, discussion and advice. If we ever have any problems, the line managers are always happy to help in every way they can. Our workplace mentors are also a good source of help on top of that. There's a strong culture of acceptance and friendliness, and people genuinely caring about each other when it comes to problems such as physical and mental health. We even have free had mental health first aid courses run on site.
6. How much support do you receive from your training provider when working towards your qualifications?
Having to do a week's worth of university work in 1 day does mean we get decreased contact with their support features and tutorials. This couples with with the fact that we work full time jobs to mean that assignments and similar often take up most o our free time during the weekends and such. The work based studies modules designed to "support" and "enhance" our time in the workplace can also often be more of a hassle than a help as it tries to encourage a mentality of self reflection through constant documentation and discussion.
7. How well do you feel that your qualification (through your training provider) helps you to perform better in your role?
I am only in my first year of the course and so hope the value of the university work will elevate in the later modules but for now, they all seem to be common sense. The course is designed to be an entry level course that people can learn from with no prior knowledge. This is because we share some lectures with normal university students. Contrary to their experience, our independent study and workplace learning mean that it isn't rare to finish the day of university and feel like not much has been learnt. This makes the university part of the apprenticeship feel more like a formality to get a degree at the end while most of our real learning is on the job.
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 many clubs that one can get involved with. From educational, pizza-fueled clubs like cyber club and data science club to go-karting and track days. We also have an on-site bar run entirely by volunteers, a gym and a summer rounders tournament. We have a massive bonfire night fireworks display and bonfire and an annual summer festival on the grounds. Our tennis courts are also available for use while the massive grounds provide excellent walks or runs depending on what you fancy.
9a. Would you recommend Roke to a friend?
It's an excellent way to get a free, respected degree while being paid a very decent wage while doing it. The amazing culture, brilliant grounds, enjoyable clubs and unique expertise provide a constant source of pride for anyone working here. Truly an amazing place that I would recommend to anyone who enjoys a challenge and working with technology.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to Roke?
Due to the nature of the work, honesty is a very important character trait to have. A hunger for knowledge, resilience and the self-confidence to work well in teams are also greatly sort after. I advise you you to demonstrate these skills. Independent work you do out of your own intuition and for your own enjoyment or self improvement in these areas and most areas related to digital technology will be looked upon well.