Firstly, a bit of information on the Microsoft Apprenticeship program. It is specially designed for and by Microsoft Partners, and is part of Microsoft UK's wider 'Get On' youth initiative. The program covers five key areas; desktop support, database support, server support, developer and technical sales, and is supported by the National Apprenticeship Service, the Skills Funding Agency and City and Guilds.
I studied at Godalming College in Surrey and though I really enjoyed my time there, I knew I didn't want to go to University. I was put off by the high financial price of University and really I wanted a way to get straight into work. It was suggested that I look at the Microsoft Apprenticeship scheme, so I did, and I have never looked back! You can take the Apprenticeship scheme with one of four providers; QA, Firebrand, Baltic Training, and Remit IT Academy and I took mine with Remit IT Academy.
I've always been interested in IT and technology, ever since getting involved in computer lessons at school. The web has become so fundamental to our daily lives and I decided I wanted a job that allowed me to get involved in shaping its future.
I actually started at BrightStarr in May 2011 as it seemed like a company that could support my ambitions and I got a really good feel from all the people I met. My first roles were looking after the CRM (customer relationship management) system and helping to maintain user and Office 365 accounts. I also looked after a lot of the electronic equipment here (laptops and such). As I learnt more about BrightStarr and the work we do I took on more responsibilty and I began looking after the client SharePoint portals that we use for project collaboration.
BrightStarr are a Microsoft Gold Partner and have been really supportive of my Apprenticeship and have definitely helped me get through the workload. As well as giving me time to study, they have really supported me in the workplace, allowing me to develop my skills and learn on the job. Since finishing the Apprenticeship scheme I've moved full time into the UI (user interface) team. I look after a lot of the HTML and CSS elements for our client projects as well as fixing some of the bugs, not all of which are mine I might add!
Without the Microsoft Apprentice Program I wouldn't have had the well-structured path that has enabled me to get where I am today. It's given me the skills and the confidence to really progress my career. I love my work here at BrightStarr and I look forward to solving the many exciting challenges of our future projects.
I would really recommend the Microsoft Apprenticeship scheme to those thinking of joining. It is a really great way to 'get your foot in the door' at a company even though you might not have the previous relevant experience. In addition the chance to learn on the job is really valuable. Not only do you get time to study for your proper qualifications, but you also learn so much from just being involved 'day to day' on projects - my timekeeping, communications, and project management skills have improved immeasurably.