Shaping Cloud Graduate Apprenticeship Programme - one year on

By: Siobhan Wood on
4 minutes to read
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We sat down with our apprentice to ask him about his experience and find out how his first year went…

“I believe this is the best decision I have ever made.”

James joined Shaping Cloud in September 2015 as part of a collaboration between Shaping Cloud and Manchester Metropolitan University on a Degree Apprenticeship in Digital & Technology Solutions. This unique opportunity allows people like James to benefit from learning a real working environment whilst at the same time working towards a fully-fledged degree. The programme James is part of is a four year partnership during which time James earns a salary and does not have to pay tuition fees.

Everyone at Shaping Cloud has been hugely impressed with the way that James has taken on the challenges put in front of him and we are looking forward to seeing him continuing to progress in his second year.

What did you expect from being an apprentice?

I had been warned it would be hard work and quite a learning curve for someone like me; who had been working in electronics for the past 2 years with no previous software or web development experience.

I’m not sure if I actually took into account any expectations, as I was too excited that I was going to university and had been accepted to work at a software company in a new city.

Was it hard to settle in?

It had its up and downs; within the first couple of weeks I felt a little out of place - thinking “What am I doing here, I’m not even a programmer?” I think after a month the shock had worn off and I felt more comfortable, I got my confidence back, took more responsibility, and week after week there was more for me to do. I had got to know my colleagues, university had crash-coursed me back into programming, and within 3 months I had written websites and some useful testing scripts for work.

What has been difficult?

Learning to learn again. It’s strange going from education to work, but even stranger in reverse; going back to education after a couple of years in full time work.

Time management. Working during the week can be tiring, especially when you have university study/assignments to do, it took me too long before I started breaking it down.

The fast pace and variety of work at Shaping Cloud. I didn’t realise there would be so much for me to learn and contribute towards. Websites, mobile apps, scripts, build processes, automation, various platforms, various languages, databases, Endpoints, and the list goes on.

What’s going well?

Everything. I’m a year in and I couldn’t be happier with my job - I’m still continuously learning and have developed my knowledge and time management skills.

University is going extremely quickly. I enjoyed my first year and my grades were good. I have met some nice people and my lectures are interesting.

In work I’m constantly being exposed to new programming languages and technologies and I feel I’m making a valuable contribution to the team.

Why did you apply?

I would have never had the chance to go to university and would have had to work extra hard for the rest of my life to be selected above a graduate. Whatever job I was doing or could have done, would never have led me to where I am now. I spent a couple of years working and saving towards ‘maybe or maybe not’ going to university, however my living costs were rising and I didn’t have any independence. I was thinking about moving out, keeping my low paid job, living somewhere cheap and just hoping I could work my way up…

But now I am here. I live on the edge of Manchester City Centre in a nice apartment, I’m in a job with daily learning opportunities where my employer cares about my personal welfare and development. I’m surrounded by like minded people. After my past working experiences, Shaping Cloud is the most caring company I have ever worked for where you are appreciated for your efforts and I do feel lucky to be a part of the family.

Overall how would you sum up your first year?

I feel I have tried my best at university, and I’m continuing to get better at my job. I have the hang of things like cooking, cleaning, bills, taxes, budgeting and organising my time. I’m very happy with everything, and my first year could not have gone better.