Charlotte Roche at Capgemini
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Apprentice Software Engineer
I had thought for a long time that I was going to go to university, but I didn’t really know what I wanted to study or what I wanted to be when I was an adult. I was fortunate enough to go to an all girls Grammar school, but they mostly promoted university so everything was catered towards that. However, as time went on during sixth form, I realised that I was not especially suited for university. I work with structure and knowing that I didn’t think I would like the intermittent lecture arrangements and non standard working day. I had seen friends and family members go to university and whilst it sounded fantastic and fun, I knew that I would struggle with that learning style. As well as this, it would have been extremely difficult money wise, especially as my parents would have to have given me a lot of money to help me to get by. Also, I took my ICT A-level a year early. I had a really supportive teacher and I enjoyed the subject; plus, some of my family work in IT so I understood that whilst it was challenging and sometimes long hours, there were a lot of opportunities in a range of skills. It wasn’t until Becky Plant (Head of Apprentice & Graduate Programmes at Capgemini) came into my school on a careers evening to explain to people individually what the apprenticeship was, that I set my heart on it and did not think about University again.
I went to an all Girls’ grammar school in Newport, Shropshire for Secondary school and Sixth form. I studied Maths, ICT, Biology and Physics as A-level subjects which were tough but I tried my best. However, once I joined Capgemini, I was given intensive training – Accelerated Learning Environment (ALE) to give me the skills that I needed to do a variety of roles on lots of different projects. The training was residential, so it was shock to suddenly be away from home, but you make friends with people who entertain you and distract you and support you. So far, everybody seems to have a really good sense of humour, as before I started; I thought I would be surrounded by people who sat at their desks all day and didn’t interact. I gained not only a new perspective, but a lot of confidence in my ability to do my work; which allowed me to really develop an idea of my future and how I wanted my career to be.
ALE was one of the best experiences of my life, but it was tough. I created some amazing friendships with some amazing people from all over the country and we worked together to make ALE the best it could be. On that last day, we had to do a presentation for Senior Management to show them what we had learnt, and it dawned on me that I really had learnt a lot. Not only in terms of the education, but about being an adult and being responsible for your actions. Knowing that I had come so far in such a short space of time really was my proudest achievement and I’m so glad I had the opportunity to do it
At the moment, I am working on a really interesting project to do with sales reporting for one of the world’s leading suppliers of fast-moving consumer goods as a Software Engineer for Capgemini. For this, I receive details regarding problems with the information that is being seen by the end user. These problems come from all over the world, explaining different issues and my job is to work out why these issues are occurring, find a solution or find somebody who can fix it, then send it back. This involves analytical skill and technical knowledge which I enjoy as it stretches me and it also mean I get to interact with lots of people. It’s been a steep learning curve as to how to work as an IT Professional; it’s a lot harder than it looks. Interacting with people much older than you, trying to create new friendships and gain respect as a valued member of the team is a challenge at 18, but well worth it! The people at Capgemini are helpful and are always helpful when I’m stuck.
I am based in London on the Client Site returning home to Shropshire at weekends. It’s slightly surreal living in hotels for the week, eating at restaurants and then going home to your ‘old life’ with home cooked dinners and no chamber maid! Some people said that living in hotels would get boring or lonely before I started, but I have definitely not lost the buzz I felt when I first checked in and the staff and I are all on a first name basis which makes us friends. Of course, I do have actual friends who stay at the hotel too and we eat together most nights so by the time I get to my room, it’s a relief to be alone! I have little time for other interests, at the moment; but I don’t mind as I’m on a big learning curve. At the weekends, I like to drag my boyfriend around the sights in London or visit my friends at university.
In five years time, I hope to be nearing the end of my apprenticeship and sponsored degree. I also hope that I’ve had the chance to travel the country with Capgemini and also around the world in my own time. I hope I keep in touch with the people that I have already met as well as some new people.
Explore all options until you spot something you want to do for definite. University is never a bad idea and will test your character as much as anything else will. There is always time to change your mind. However look into the option of Professional Apprenticeships. A lot of my friends will leave university at 21 with vast debts and looking for a job. At 23, all being well, I will be debt free, had an income for 5 years, have a degree, a job and most of all solid work experience in a major IT company.More Experiences