From Apprentice to Squad Lead
When I finished my apprenticeship, the People Lead in my office and I explored my next steps at BJSS. I have always loved working with people, having discussions to solve problems and pairing with others on my projects. I thought the Squad Lead role (pastoral care for others at BJSS) sounded great for that.
Being a Squad Lead, you're responsible for people’s well-being, checking in and making sure they are happy on both their project and within the wider company, and finally, making sure they have everything that they need to succeed. I like that you represent them when it comes to performance reviews to management.
BJSS offered Squad Lead training, interactive sessions, mock tribunals, and lots of resources for different scenarios. The best way for me to learn as a Squad Lead is by speaking to other Squad Leads in regular sessions and sharing experiences so others in similar scenarios can help and learn from each other. I really like celebrating people's achievements so it’s great to complete performance reviews where people get good feedback and I’m the person that gets to share that with them.
I like solving problems for people and pushing to make things happen. For example, I had a squaddie who wanted to transfer to Bristol. I pushed for this to happen, and I enjoyed the experience because it was very rewarding to see our people staying in the business even when they wanted to move locations.
Why people should consider an apprenticeship
I have had so much support since starting my career as an Apprentice here at BJSS. I got lot of support came from my team, and my mentor here at BJSS. My mentor, Alan, would spend a lot of time answering my questions and encourage me to read up on certain topics. He taught me certain software principles and patterns, and allowed me to ask as many questions as I needed to.
When I began working on a project, just a couple of months after I joined, it was great because there weren’t many expectations or pressure put on me, the client I worked with knew I was an apprentice, so I was able to make mistakes under supervision and learn from them. Whenever I had problems my team members were always willing to help and I was never thrown into the deep end!
My main advice is if you know that you want to get into software engineering then you should consider an apprenticeship over university if you learn by doing. You will get lots of opportunities to write software in a commercial environment with experienced current people around you helping. At university, the courses can be outdated, and the lecturers may not have worked in the industry for a long time, and it can be very theoretical. Whereas working at BJSS, I began working with huge clients straight away, alongside some of the best engineers out there and I had the chance to learn from them every day, whilst getting paid and a great opportunity for career progression.
An apprenticeship is what you make of it, the support is there, it’s just all about having the confidence to ask for help and to understand that you don’t need to know everything straight away. You’re at the start of your career and you have a lot of time to learn.