Chanda is a DevOps Engineering Apprentice at BAE Systems, based in Leeds. Below, she shares with us her experience and learnings from the first year of her apprenticeship.
‘I’d wanted to get into tech for a while. And for a bit of context, I’m an older apprentice, I’m 32 and have a young child, and I had other jobs prior to coming here. I was always really worried about leaving a stable job for an apprenticeship and starting afresh, but after getting made redundant, rather than seeing that as a setback, I decided I was going to use it as an opportunity to pursue exactly what I wanted to do. It was all serendipitous, really, because BAE Systems were recruiting for DevOps engineering apprentices at the time. The stars had aligned, I felt it was meant to be.
DevOps combines the practice of developing, with the operations side. So really going through the whole software development lifecycle, from inception to the end product. When I read about the apprenticeship it seemed to me that it was offering so much and expecting very little in return. It wasn’t necessary to have any prior technical experience or knowledge, just an interest in tech, a GCSE in maths, and the willingness to learn. The more I learned about the business, and the more people I met throughout the application process of being taken on, the more I wanted it. I was ecstatic when I got the email that said I’d been successful.
As an apprentice I think there’s a perception that when you come into a company, you’re probably not going to have that much of an impact, but that’s not the case here. Six weeks after joining my current project, I was asked to lead on a technical demonstration for the client and senior stakeholders. The business has pushed me out of my comfort zone many times. That can be scary at times, but it’s the best place to be as an apprentice because it really helps me grow! It’s such valuable experience and it means that I’ve learned some completely new skill that I’m able to use again and again.
When I was applying for an apprenticeship, I naturally associated them with school leavers, college leavers, that sort of demographic. And I thought do I really want to be a 32-year-old apprentice? Then actually coming through it with no technical experience and learning the amount of stuff that I have in the last year, I’ve really surprised myself. I’m actually really, really proud that I am an apprentice. I feel as though I’m paving the way for other people out there that are similar to me in terms of age, in terms of their life experience and their responsibilities outside of work. If I can do it, anyone can do it.
The work we do here is important, it helps save lives and protects me. I’m not just doing this for me, I’m doing it for my son. I’m doing it for his future.’