National Apprenticeship Week: Kyle’s Story

Hi, I’m Kyle. I joined the SwiftCase team last year as their first ever apprentice.

March 4th – March 8th 2019 is officially National Apprenticeship Week, so I sat down with the team to answer some questions about my experience over the past year!

What made you decide to do a software development apprenticeship?

I decided to take the challenge of learning to become a software developer because I have personally always had an interest in the world of IT. From high school, I took an interest in ICT, the hardware and the software side. I found software development to be fascinating because, in today’s world, technology is integrated into our everyday lives. Software is everywhere, from self-scanners in shops to the mobile phone you hold in your hand.

During college, I completed a level 3 qualification in IT. It was my first insight into how to build a computer as well as load software onto the system and run it. This gave me my first insight into how hardware and software work hand in hand. I enjoyed the practical and theory side of this qualification.

What got me into wanting to become a software developer was the challenge, I’ve always believed in “if it’s not hard, it’s not worth doing”. In software development, there are so many languages/techniques/frameworks to learn that you can never really get bored. As well as the endless amounts of resources available online, this gave me optimism.

Another reason for taking on this apprenticeship is the fact that software developers are in high demand and there isn’t enough of them, this allows for more future opportunities and a very flexible career path, with the potential to move abroad, become self-employed or even start my own business.

Did you have any hesitations about becoming a Programmer / Apprentice and how did it compare to the reality?

Before taking on this role I was very hesitant, this is because before understanding anything to do with actual programming, there is somewhat a stigma of what computer programmers are and what they act like, as well as how hard programming is. I knew from trying coding in high school how difficult it can be to get into the grasp of it all, but since I started, I’ve found the experience to be nothing but rewarding!

I was very excited to become an apprentice. I mean, to get paid as well as learn new skills? A dream start for any career path. The reality exactly what I expected; getting paid as well as being taught hands on. It’s been such a valuable experience.

What do you like about working with the SwiftCase team?

In the SwiftCase offices, I enjoy the atmosphere, a relaxed workplace where we all get on as a team. The support I receive as well as the friendliness of each staff member; I don’t dread coming to work like past jobs. I go to work knowing I can learn and have the support there available to help me further my learning.When I’m developing, and I come across an obstacle that I can’t overcome, the support is there to help me get over the hurdle. The guidance I’ve received ensures I have been able to quickly adapt to the role with confidence.

What has been your favourite project you’ve worked on so far and why?

A couple of months into my apprenticeship, I started a project to get into the software developer role as well as learn various programming languages and frameworks.

At first, I was hesitant because the idea of building your own project with next to zero programming experience is scary. However, I found that whilst working on this project, if you can utilise resources and free online documentation, then you will start finding problem-solving becomes more natural and you will start to learn where to look.

Over the course of the project, I picked up on a lot, from PHP to HTML as well as SQL. The main purpose of this project was to help further my development skills and I really feel like this helped. Building a basic CRUD system opened my mindset to how agile systems can be and features you can actually implement.

To sum up the project overall this was my first stepping stone into the developer lifestyle, and this was a key project that prepared me for the role.

What are your future goals?

When I look into the future, I see myself as an experienced developer, an efficient developer and a versatile developer who can develop in multiple programming languages.

My primary goal and one I will continue to focus on is to gain the title of ‘Senior Software Developer’, I believe by continuing to work hard and focus on my career I will earn this title.

I also have the obvious goals to own a villa in Spain and drive a Mercedes AMG C 63 with a nice big house in the UK… these are goals I will work towards, but best not get carried away!

Do you have any advice for other people who are potentially looking to become an apprentice?

When it comes to your first year in an apprenticeship, the best advice I can give is to work hard and always try your best. It’s important to realise that the employer wants someone who is eager and has that hunger and drive to learn. You want to become an asset to your employer, someone they see value in, not somebody who is replaceable.

Another piece of advice I can give is that it’s your first year; don’t stress. Put time into what you’re learning outside of work to further your knowledge. Personally, I have found that working from home and looking into what I am currently studying and just generally practising key concepts allows me to apply this in the workplace.

Time will fly, you will soon be looking back and you will realise that you have learnt a lot in a short space of time, use this to motivate you to carry on and succeed in your role, do not quit!

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Kyle Gardner