The best experience is working for the BBC and on products that thousands of people use

Firstly – how are you and how have you been managing during the Coronavirus pandemic? 

I am great, thank you! I am still overwhelmed by receiving the Runner-up Special Achievement award. It’s been nearly a year since the pandemic and there were a lot of things I have learned over time. I never worked from home so it was a new experience and I also moved into a new team a week later and still haven’t been able to see them in person. I saved a lot on travel expenses and time, resulting in working more efficiently getting university work completed in advance. In addition, with the spare time I had, I got the opportunity to resume my hobbies. I was able to sort out my coin collection, started building things, and playing the keyboard again. I was also able to focus on my health and regularly work-out. I am also a STEM ambassador and took part in many virtual events alongside volunteering for various charities. 

What was the best experience of your Tech Industry Gold degree apprenticeship?

The best experience of my degree apprenticeship was having the opportunity to work in a well-known diverse company, the BBC, and work on a product thousands of people use. One of the projects I have worked on in my second year was at BBC Weather was the Weather Watchers Slice. It was an individual project which took six months to complete and is now used by millions of users nationwide. I gained a lot of valuable experience and skills from this. I tested the site on different devices and screen reader technologies to make sure that the weather watchers slice is accessible. Every time I look at my local weather, I am proud to see that the project that I have worked on is used by many people on a daily basis. I enjoy working at the BBC as there are so many opportunities and team members are very friendly. 

What is your current role? What is your typical day?

I am a Software Engineering Degree Apprentice. I currently work in the BBC Video and Graphics Tools team. The team is responsible for the design, development, and maintenance of software that integrates with broadcast video systems and is used by thousands of journalists across the BBC around the world. I have worked on tasks to fix problems with the systems/products. I am currently working on an individual project to develop a dashboard on AWS for the team to monitor important statics for the products. A typical day would be meeting at work to update the team with my progress and work on the project, catch-up with my mentor to review what I have done and if there are any changes to be made. Sometimes there are lots of meetings in one day.

What was the most challenging experience of your Tech Industry Gold degree apprenticeship? 

I struggled for the first few weeks of the apprenticeship. Going straight from the Sixth Form, I wasn’t used to a working environment and university meant studying independently. This was all new to me and it was difficult for me to adapt. In addition, I was less experienced compared to the other apprentices so I was always behind in completing tasks. When the workload was difficult for me to handle, I thought about quitting. However, at that point, I re-evaluated everything and decided to push myself and be positive. I worked really hard and I was assigned to a mentor who was really supportive and guided me, eventually getting the opportunity to work on my own project. 

What would you say now, to yourself, before you enrolled on your degree apprenticeship? 

I would say that I won’t regret it and it will have a positive impact on my life. I would also reassure myself about my peers going to university and wondering whether I would be missing out. 

What would you say to anyone considering a Tech Industry Gold degree apprenticeship? 

If you want to know what an apprenticeship is truly like, go to the source. If you like the idea of working and studying and able to balance between the two, then an apprenticeship is for you. Don’t be worried that it will be too much or that you will be limited to what you can do as an apprentice, as four years on I am due to graduate in the summer. Applying to an apprenticeship is a choice you won’t regret and there are a lot of benefits such as tons of experience, getting paid, a free degree, and much, much more. 

What are your career plans? 

I hope to progress as a Software Engineer. In the meantime I am also gaining experience in Robotics as I hope to become a Robotics Engineer, creating technologies and machinery which have an impact on the lives of people worldwide. My dream is to work for NASA, helping to create technologies to travel in space and develop machinery to explore planets. Maybe I could become a Chartered Engineer? 

Anything else to add? 

I have won the Paul Fletcher Award for my dedication to promoting STEM. Since I started the apprenticeship, I became a STEM ambassador, taking part in incredible events such as judging at the First Lego League, speaking live online to 20,000 young people nationwide, and delivering presentations at schools about degree apprenticeships. 

I am also a BBC STEM Ambassador and I have taken part in careers fairs, shared videos about myself, and hosted exciting challenges. Recently in one of the challenges, I pretended to be an alien from Area 51 and students had to give instructions to me to make a peanut butter jelly sandwich. 

I also won the Horizons Bursary award 2017 which gave me the opportunity to become an IET member. I was able to build my connections, attend events, and volunteer for the IET. In addition, I am a member of the IET Horizons and Bursary Council, an Associate of the Engineers Trust, and an Events Manager for the London Young Professionals Network Committee.  I am the Events Manager for the Queen Mary University Tamil society committee which involves fundraising and raising awareness for charities close to our hearts. 

I also do a lot of volunteering. I am the London Ambassador for WASUP, raising awareness about the use of single-use plastics and their effects, taking part in canal cleans, litter picks, tree planting, and tree collecting to be given to people in disadvantaged countries. 

I have recently helped raised £2,000 for families in Sri Lanka who have been financially affected by COVID-19. Since the age of 13, I have been a BulliesOut Ambassador, raising awareness about bullying and the importance of mental health. In my spare time, I am working on a robotics project, which is a drone with a claw hook controlled by an infra-red remote using a custom circuit programmed using an Arduino board. 

Find out more about Degree Apprenticeships

Find out more about the Degree Apprenticeship at Queen Mary University of London –
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