A winner’s story – Emma Nolan

Emma Nolan - winner of the National Tech Industry Gold Digital Degree Apprenticeship Awards 2022


We asked winners of our National Tech Industry Gold Digital Degree Apprenticeship Awards 2022 to share their stories. Read Emma’s below and discover her passions about her journey, as well as tips for future degree apprentices.


Current role: UX Designer

Company: Thales 

Degree Apprenticeship: Software Engineering Pathway

Awards Category: Special Achievement


What made you choose a degree apprenticeship?

The opportunity to gain work experience while studying for a degree appealed to me. I didn’t want to do a traditional degree route because of the financial burden and because I knew how valued work experience was in the software industry. However, I also recognised the importance of a degree as formal recognition of your knowledge within the field. I also felt ready to work and earn my own money. A degree apprenticeship covered all bases for me!

What benefits have you seen as a result of choosing a degree apprenticeship?

Doing a degree apprenticeship has allowed me to build a network; get involved in communities within the industry; and explore different career pathways, leading to me progressing my career quickly at a young age. I’ve had many opportunities early in my career through a degree apprenticeship that I don’t think I would’ve had on a more traditional route.

What does following a Tech Industry Gold accredited programme mean to you?

Following a Tech Industry, the Gold accredited programme has meant I have confidence that the skills and behaviours I’m learning are relevant and sought after within my industry. I know that future recruiters will recognise my degree as valuable.

What did winning the award mean to you?

For me, winning the award was recognition that my career move was the right choice and that I was doing a good job in my new role. It was really exciting to hear my name called out as the winner! In the final, stressful year of my apprenticeship, winning the award has given me that push and motivation to keep working hard until it’s finished.

How has winning the award helped in the workplace?

As I’m young and new to my role, it’s easy for people to have a biahttps://associationofapprentices.org.uk/s against me and my abilities. However, I like to think winning the award shows colleagues that I’m capable, driven and there to make a difference.

What recommendations would you give to those considering a tech/IT/digital career?

There are multiple careers in the tech/IT/digital space, including some you’ll never have heard of and those that don’t officially exist yet. However, the industry is changing daily, and it’s a really exciting space, so I’d recommend getting your foot in the door!

What guidance would you give to those thinking about a degree apprenticeship?

Experience what the industry offers and find the area that’s a good fit for you and your skills. Yes, to my fellow young women out there, it’s male-dominated, but the industry is just as much for us and needs us just as much as it needs men – please don’t be scared to come and flourish in this industry!

Do you have any other insights you’d like to share?

Degree apprenticeships are an amazing opportunity and come with so many benefits. But I would give the heads up that they are by no means an easy option – it’s a full-time job alongside a degree. I’m very grateful for the support my employer, university, and peers have given me over the last four years because I wouldn’t have made it this far without some people in those groups! So be prepared for a challenge and be willing to get stuck in. Take up any opportunities and make the most of your time as a degree apprentice.