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Removing the apprenticeship stigma

Jessica Wong
Apprentice Software Engineer

Background 

Growing up with a single-parent background, I have always been motivated by my mum and sister to work towards achieving a career with positive prospects. My mum especially encouraged me to pursue university, in the hopes that I would escape the more financially challenging life that she led to raise us. Attending university with £5,000 accommodation fees a year and other expenses was going to be tough on the 3 of us, even with the help of the grant and loan available to me at the time. However, we were determined to make it work.

Why I chose a Degree Apprenticeship? 

When the Degree Apprenticeship was advertised, there was still a lot of stigma surrounding the legitimacy of apprenticeships and how it could contribute to my career. However upon further information from MMU, it just sounded like a no-brainer: 4 years of full-time work experience, full working salary, a BSc degree and apprenticeship qualification at the end of it, with no student loan debt to top it off! The quantifiable financial benefits as well as the non-measurable perks of experience and exposure was undoubtedly going to accelerate my learning and development.

Social aspect

I moved away from home to develop my life skills independently and I have made life-long friends from both university and work. Whilst I had to wake up at 6am when other students were coming home from socials, I was able to make the most of Manchester nightlife and socials. I joined the MMU Aikido Society and flew to Tenerife with the MMU Taekwondo Society.

Work-life balance

At a conference where Josephine Fairly, the Co-founder of Green & Black’s, the inspirational female speakers rejected the term ‘work-life balance’ and instead motivated me to aim for ‘work-life integration’. This was a testing task as the Degree Apprenticeship was tough, technically and emotionally. However, the employers and MMU worked together to enable an environment that would simultaneously challenge me and allow me to thrive on my own mistakes in the safety of the classroom and office. It’s tough, but you don’t do it on your own.

Why I chose BJSS?

When I graduated from the Degree Apprenticeship, I was excited to take the next step of my career and move out of my comfort zone. I wanted to enter the world of consultancy to develop myself in a fast-paced, customer-facing environment in the heart of Manchester City Centre. The change of culture and working practices enabled me to bring my thoughts to the table as well as learn of other methodologies.