- 1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
- 2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
- 3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
- 4. How well organised/structured is your programme?
- 5. How much support do you receive from your employer?
- 6. How much support do you receive from your training provider when working towards your qualifications?
- 7. How well do you feel that your qualification (through your training provider) helps you to perform better in your role?
- 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.)
- 9a. Would you recommend Transport for London to a friend?
- 9b. Why?
- 10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to Transport for London?
I am a software developer working on a large scale project within a scrum team. We work on two-week cycles of work called 'sprints'. Each sprint begins with a sprint planning meeting in which the goals for the sprint are set-out, while developers take on tasks defined from user stories. Throughout the sprint backlog refinement takes place in which the scrum team together breaks up features into user stories and tasks, as well as weighting them by complexity and time. The sprint ends with a demo for stakeholders in which developers demonstrate the work done, with a final sprint retrospective. The retro is reflective and gathers developers feedback on what went well, what didn't and what further actions need to be taken to solve issues. Additionally there is a daily morning standup in which developers discuss work in progress and ask for help on any blockers. Developers can be working on any frontend, backend and data engineering.
I have developed and improved existing presentation skills when demoing my work during the sprint demo for stakeholders. I have improved by ability in adapting communication styles for technical and non-technical audiences. My technical knowledge of C Sharp, Azure cloud computing services and SQL has improved vastly while on my current placement where I have worked on ETL tasks and creating functions for API endpoints. I have had opportunities with working with Entity Framework Core. My understanding of concepts such as encapsulation, dependency injection and abstraction has increased on the programme.
I have greatly enjoyed my apprenticeship programme, which is mainly due to the specific development work I have performed in my scrum team. It is also enjoyable because my colleagues are nice people, helpful and very professional. I enjoy the fact that I am constantly gaining new workflows to try. This is the best job I have ever had in regards to interest in the subject matter. I am genuinely excited to come to work because I enjoy it so much.
The activities in my placement are well organised and structured. They are designed to get apprentices accustomed to scrum ceremonies and the way sprints work. Eventually the developers become self-organised and take on their own work tasks. In regards to the training provider, the experience was very mixed. Makers' course on Ruby and databases was very thorough and well-taught. The coaching was also very strong. However Makers' course was lacklustre on C Sharp and very flawed. Makers did respond to feedback and gave TfL apprentices access to a coach with C Sharp knowledge which helped to remedy some of the disappointment. However we apprentices needed to access external courses on PluralSight to plug gaps in our C Sharp knowledge. While overall I find Makers' technical teaching to be good, their courses on emotional intelligence are extremely bad. They are patronising, chaotic, full of pseudoscience and not fit for purpose. Fortunately there were only three of these emotional intelligence sessions. TfL gets 10/10. Makers technical coaching gets 7/10. Makers emotional intelligence coaching gets 0/10. However overall TfL and Makers together get 9/10.
I have found my employer to be supportive and responsive for requests. My line manager is very approachable and professional. They have offered extra training for areas where we need extra knowledge and they have been receptive to helping our extra-curricular continuing professional development. Also they have been very helpful in providing extra equipment to allow us to work from home.
I currently have monthly meetings with a placement coach in which I can ask any questions. However I usually read the documentation and do not tend to have many questions. My portfolio submissions do get thorough feedback and I have found this helpful for my next submission. I have found the advice documents which Makers have given me on the portfolio to be helpful.
The KSBs that are needed to be evidenced in the portfolio have encouraged me to seek opportunities to evidence a wide range of skills. For example unit testing and test driven development (TDD). Not all developers use TDD, but the portfolio gave me an excuse to apply TDD techniques in my workflow. By encouraging me to seek out a breadth of knowledge/skills/behaviours, I am better able to become a well-rounded developer.
In my office days I enjoy attending marquee events which display technical work and projects performed by other teams. Online I enjoy attending optional department-wide briefings on performance and strategy. There is a Graduate & Apprentice Committee but I do partake in their activities but I know that I have the option to do so. We developers have also been offered places at special networking events with AWS and Microsoft.
I am a career changer and I have worked in many roles in my life. The work is so interesting and you are constantly learning new technologies. The people are wonderful and being surrounded by wonderful work colleagues is something that many people will never experience. I am lucky. I have the best job I have ever had. My employer values me and wants me to develop. I get to self-organise my work. I get to support my colleagues.
If you are individualistic and hypercompetitive, then this is not for you. If you are a well-rounded and decent human being, who is unafraid of new challenges then you will love it here. If you are a caring human being with strong communication skills, then you will thrive here. Anyone can learn how to code, but not everyone has the ability to be kind and supportive. If you are kind and supportive and you believe in public transport, then you will succeed here.
Higher Level Apprenticeship
Greenwich, Greater London