I’m a Microsoft Apprentice, working as a Support Engineer since last September. I support the global corporations that use Microsoft’s database software to solve technical problems. Essentially, my job is to seek out broken code and find solutions that keep these businesses up-and-running. I’m learning loads as an apprentice, but its real work too – nofluffy errands – there’s code flying everywhere.
From game player to peer educator
If you want to learn the digital stuff that’s fun, like I did, you need to learn it yourself. Like many kids, I fantasised about working in the gaming industry creating cool games, but I didn’t actually know what skills I would need. Curiosity drove me to discover the world of coding and I started learning HTML and CSS by playing around on Code Academy when I was 11.
After finishing school I went to a specialist technology college but the learning environment just didn’t suit me. So after completing AS Levels I wanted to do something else. I already had more experience of programming than most, me and friends had designed and were part way through building an app for students (watch this space – I’m still developing it when I get any spare time!). I took work experience with some start-up tech firms and I had also recently started volunteering at a local youth project where I could support others’ learning about technology, aka a Microsoft Youth Hub.
I would get older kids interested by just opening up a broken computer…they get curious and come over wanting to find out more. With the broken computer and a few extra parts, me and the young people at the Hub started building a gaming PC!
Through the network of Microsoft staff mentors involved with the Youth Hubs I found out about Microsoft’s Get On programme, which offers apprenticeships with the company. When I saw the information, there was just one day left to apply…..I thought, ‘I might as well give it a try, it probably won’t happen’, so it was a real shock when I heard back from them!
On the job
After a video interview, a real interview, and assessments over the course of a few weeks I found out that I Microsoft was taking me on!
After 18 months I’ll end up with an apprentice certificate equivalent to 2 or 3 good A-levels, and maybe a job! It’s a way of breaking that vicious cycle, where you can’t get a job because you don’t have experience, and can’t get experience because you don’t have a job. I’m in the same position as someone leaving 6th form or college…..but I’ve got the work experience with it!