‘How I fast-tracked my way into a tech career with an apprenticeship and degree apprenticeship’

Apprenticeships and degree apprenticeships are not a secondary option. They are the option of choice for talented young people of all backgrounds to get on the career ladder, free of student debt and rich in hands-on experience from day one. And the opportunities in tech and digital are endless!

When Howard set off to study A levels in IT and Business Studies at his local college in Merseyside, he had a vision for working with a large IT employer but was still unclear about his career path. When it came to choosing between university, an internship or apprenticeship, Howard took up an opportunity to do an apprenticeship with IBM, as he felt it was the best option to ‘fast-track his timescale into IBM’. Thanks to his adaptability, drive and enthusiasm, Howard was then given the opportunity to progress on to a degree apprenticeship with MMU, thus finding himself at 22, a soon-to-be graduate with substantial work experience and a great job under his belt.

See below for more details from Howard on his personal experience.

Tell me about yourself – background information, school life etc.
I’m from Liverpool, 22 years old and have been with IBM for 3 years now. I went to school at Rainhill High School, and followed this doing A levels at the associated Sixth Form college. I went down the IT route with a view of working for a large IT employer when the time was right. I have never been overly technical, relishing more in the business side of things and working with clients to deliver quality solutions.

How did you end up at IBM?
When studying for my A Levels I was looking at one particular unit which was focussing on the smarter planet, which was an incentive which IBM was largely at the forefront of (Many of you may now know this as Internet of Things). It was this that gave me an interest in IBM as the technology company that I wanted to work for.

Why did you chose a degree apprenticeship over the simply traditional university?
I chose an apprenticeship to fast track my timescale into IBM. Having assessed the different pathways which were available at the time which included going to university, an internship or apprenticeship I believe that being a full time IBM’er and working with some of our biggest clients as an apprentice would be the most beneficial at the time. I later had the opportunity to progress on to a degree apprenticeship and am now currently studying with Manchester Metropolitan University.

What are the advantages do you feel of an apprenticeship?
I feel that working as an apprentice you have access to colleagues at all levels of their careers, starting with the great community between apprentices and ranging all the way through to our executives everyone is very supportive and appreciate the work ethic and enthusiasm. I have learned so much in my first 3 years at IBM as an apprentice, and have been given great opportunities to get external qualifications in industry relevant skills.

Who inspired you to follow this route?
I did not know any other apprentices and followed this pathway of my own accord. I knew that this was the best route for me and pursued it accordingly.

Were your family supportive and pro the apprenticeship route?
My family were supportive. When I told them I would be working away with our clients all over the UK they were very proud.

Where are you currently working and in what department?
I am currently working in a large FSS client, working on a cloud migration programme which is biggest of its kind in scale and complexity.

Where do you see yourself in the future, both short term and long term?
Short term I would like to progress through the ranks in my current project, enhancing my skills in cloud application. I do see myself as an aspiring future leader so hopefully will reach there in the long term.

What advice would you give to someone now considering the different options?
I would really urge you to consider an apprenticeship, there are so many great opportunities to work in different industries and learn relevant skills for your career which may not be picked up at the same pace through other pathways. Do it, you will have a great network and there are so many of us who have been through the pathway and are now progressing well into our careers.


See what digital apprenticeships could do for you – if you are an employer, or if you are a young person looking at careers options.