1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
Test analyst. Testing and conducting assessments of computer software, which has been created in house. Involves writing plans, executing scripts, conversing with developers, infrastructure and management
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
I have become more analytical and methodical in my writing style, have been able to write clear and concise instructions. Able to explain and elaborate on issues clearly, specifically changing content for target audiences. Gained confidence to demonstrate to the client.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
I believe the job is a good stepping stone into the IT industry. Work can be in peaks and troughs, but there is a positive team vulture within projects. The company itself has a stubborn policy that prevents freedom of movement to an extent that can be impossible to gain new skills or move in a different direction.
4. How valued do you feel by CGI?
Not very - I work lots of overtime and been involved in rolling out projects to high profile clients but have not been rewarded or valued by management on most occasions. There is a 'brain drain' since this attitude has been replicated by the salary structure whereby pay rises have been insufficient.
5. How well organised/structured is your programme?
The actual programme has good support for students. There is a comprehensive induction, a buddying system, team meetings, delegation of responsibilities and good initial opportunities - the Sponsored Degree side of the company is well run.
6a. How much support do you receive from your training provider?
The University of Winchester offers high quality facilities and an adequate level of teaching. Lecturers are generally happy to support you and essays are in engaging topics related to your work. However, some essays can be set or even changed at very short notice before the deadline, whilst the UoW has had some embarrassing outages in it's Learning Network system.
6b. How much support do you receive from your employer?
There is a dedicated support team for the programme, with talented members of staff that far exceeds the average of HR within the business. This includes mentoring, buddying and spot management - This section of the comment has been removed by a member of the RateMyApprenticeship Team because it did not meet our site terms and conditions has been effective at communicating and understands potential issues (and improvements) as she was a graduate of the scheme herself. It is a shame this model cannot be replicated across the UK business.
7. How well does your salary/package meet your costs?
In the first year, starting salary was 13k (now 14k). This is very tight but enough money to survive and live away from home - but more comfortable than going to university! Reading is becoming approx 10% more expensive year on year due to its location, which will be a problem in future years. But on current 4th/5th year salary (approx 27/28k) you are comfortable, but may be remunerated at a competitor
8. Are there many opportunities outside of work?
There used to be a very positive work culture but this is less of the case now - but there are still charity events and regular sports organised for workers. Locations are generally office parks which is not conductive to teams going out together, for example during lunchtime.
9a. Would you recommend CGI to a friend? *
9b. Why? *
It is a good place to start a career and get on the ladder, and you can gain a lot of transferable life skills and confidence. Even if you do it and decide IT isn't for you in the long term (like me - I want to be a teacher, even if I enjoy working in IT), it is a fixed period of time and you get £27k of tuition fees paid, whilst earning a salary which allows you to live well whilst saving money for property or to start a business of your own. Normally, people find a niche they are good at and enjoy, then progress up the projects.
However, you must only apply if you are sure a career in IT is for you - the get out fees are draconian if you decide you hate the job or the scheme two or three years in. Do a few months work experience first (which will give you the edge over competitors anyway!)
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to CGI? *
Do your research - and make sure you have a keen interest in technology, especially the things that aren't immediately obvious. For example, in a news story about hacking ask yourself - where did that threat come from in the first place? How did anyone know there was a problem that could be exploited? How could it be stopped? These questions are the ones being asked by CGI, as we come up with new solutions that stop similar circumstances happening again.
Ensure you know the inductry and what you might be asked to - it would be a good idea to get some experience in an office environment and/or around the development of technology. This is as much for you to decide you may not want to do it as getting experience which allows you to blindly pass an interview.
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