Our Geek apprentices are our first line of IT support. They spend most of their time with us, part-working and part-studying their coursework in various corners of the office. Then they zip off to study with their apprenticeship providers some days each month.
We love our award-winning trainee Geeks. They answer the phones and keep the company going (and also keep us on our toes by asking questions which we then need to know the answers to). They help us cultivating the ethos of personal development in our company.
Here we have our Yusra, our Joe and both of our Jacks answering some questions about what the life of an apprentice is like for them.
Dial a Geek: Greetings to you, Geeks-in-progress. Can you briefly tell us a little about how your apprenticeships work?
Joe: At the moment I’m in my first year of a degree-level apprenticeship.
As well as working in the office, this involves me having to go to two training days monthly, as well as doing some online learning, coursework and exams.
The time I have allotted for coursework, training and shadowing is normally around six hours per week. Maybe a bit more if it’s quiet.
Dial a Geek: How do you usually begin your days in the office?
Joe: Once I get into the office in the morning, I log on to all of our required systems. Then I check my calendar to see if any tickets have been booked in for me to do.
Yusra: Some of those might have come from me as I’m a helpdesk manager and ticket dispatcher as well.
Joe: If I have a ticket, I call the client and begin diagnostics on the issue, usually remotely. If I can’t solve the problem after consulting with other people, the ticket gets escalated to a second-line technician.
If there isn’t a ticket booked in for me, I usually do documentation, write a blog post or do research.
Dial a Geek: What does consulting with other people about a solution look like?
Yusra: As apprentices, we have a line manager (Glen) who is responsible for managing the first-line helpdesk which we are a part of.
This includes helping us with any issues we have regarding individual tickets and delegating any other non-helpdesk related tasks to us.
Our line manager is also part of the reviews process of our apprenticeship.
Dial a Geek: What do you like about being an apprentice?
Jack C: I feel like I’m able to make mistakes, learn from them and not be judged. Plus, the other apprentices have been where I am and I’ve met a lot of other people on the same path as me which is great for motivation.
Jack S: I really like being able to chat with the other apprentices and the second-line technicians about topics like servers, networks, the cloud and other things which interest me.
I’m configuring my personal home network lab in my free time and they’ve been a big help with that.
Dial a Geek: What’s the hardest part about being an apprentice?
Yusra: Juggling work and studying is hard. We have coursework which needs to be completed at the same time as the apprenticeship.
Jack S: Yeah, completing the coursework is the part I dislike the most. I’d say I’m more of a practical learner. Tasks involving hardware and software are no problem. Written work, I’d… rather keep to a minimum.
I recently completed my coursework though, so now I have more time to work on projects in-house and for clients.
Jack C: I miss summer holidays! Getting used to the working hours has been a big challenge. Luckily, I’ve had a gradual onboarding to the apprenticeship so I’ve gotten used to it to the point where I really like my job role now.
Yusra: There are also those days where you have to go to a training centre to gain your certifications. Personally, I really like this. It means I get to develop my knowledge and apply it to my work directly. It also allows me to develop my skills and gives me a clear roadmap to where my career is headed. But I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s easy!
Dial a Geek: What’s the biggest distraction from your role as an apprentice?
Jack C: I usually find chatting with the other apprentices about what we got up to over the weekend and our plans for coming weeks to be the biggest distraction. Everyone else seems to be mainly enticed by the snacks in the office though.
Yusra: The snacks are a serious distraction.
Dial a Geek: “Remove office snacks.” Noted.
Jack S: There’s no need to make any hasty decisions. Let’s talk about time logging everybody!
Yusra: Time logging is a big challenge. As apprentices, we have to log how we spend our time each day to make sure we’re being as productive as possible. It can actually be handy though as it lets you know what takes up the majority of your time.
Dial a Geek: Would you say that you all get along?
Joe: Who are you all anyway?
Yusra: Who let this guy in? But no, we’re all quite close in age so we relate to each other easily. And the office seating plan lets us sit close to one another and help each other out.
We also do loads of office activities like going to the pub, escape rooms, having dinner together. Some of us also choose to go for nights out together at the weekend.
Jack S: Takeout lunches are good too.
Yusra: Yeah I would say we’ve bonded over our collective love of fast food. Ordering in together at lunchtime is a nice way to recharge as it allows us to have non-work related conversations and regain a little energy for the rest of the day.
This has become a sort of set fortnightly activity now. We hope it continues as we grow in size!
Dial a Geek: Apprentice Geeks, thank you very much!
Answering our questions were Yusra and Joe, who are studying degree-level apprenticeships, and Jack Cross and Jack Scott who are both studying level 3 apprenticeships.