As the fifteen month software development apprenticeship scheme ends, the apprentices have their say about the experience as a whole:
“When I joined cap hpi as an Apprentice Software Engineer, I wasn't one hundred percent sure what to expect. I didn't come from a technology background, everything I had learned about programming up to that point was done at home in my own time. From the past fifteen months I would certainly recommend an apprenticeship to anyone. Without going to university, it is near impossible to find an opportunity with most companies you reach out to asking for experience. This apprenticeship scheme has showed that when structured correctly with such a large and supportive group of individuals around you it is possible. I don't think I would have liked to arrive into this sector in any other way.” - Alex
One of the best aspects of being an apprentice was the support given to us by other members of the squad. We were assigned a senior engineer to assist us with our day to day work. When we needed support they were first point of contact, allowing us to gain the insight of a more experienced software engineer, increasing the quality of our work.
At the start of the apprenticeship, work was quite daunting, we had no experience with the company systems, agile, and minimal coding experience. To compensate for our inexperience, we initially had weekly catch ups with our line manager (Helen Wright) to provide an opportunity to resolve any issues or questions. As time went on and we settled into our first placements, these catch ups became less frequent and we were given more responsibility and exposure to cap hpi programs with ongoing assistance as needed.
“Looking back at the last fifteen months I would’ve never thought I would be in the position I am now. My knowledge, confidence and input into my squad’s work have all grown more than I could ever have imagined. This apprenticeship has given me a good insight into everything that happens here at cap hpi, especially in the product development department. It has given me the opportunity to gain knowledge and experience in the best way possible. I began by watching tutorials, then moved on to fixing bugs & working on small tasks, to now being able to contribute to large tasks and decisions. This apprenticeship has also made me realise the large range of different skills and technologies there are within this sector.
I feel like this experience has been very successful due to the people involved. I would like to thank all the engineers, QA analysts, product owners etc, and especially my manager Helen who has helped me, and made coming to work something I enjoy. I cannot wait to continue the next journey of being a junior software engineer here at cap hpi.” - Holly
At the start of 2019 cap hpi began its restructure into an agile framework, to create a more flexible, cohesive and productive organisation. A particularly interesting change was the change from teams with defined leaders to non-hierarchical “squads”. This led to more autonomy for each squad to make decisions to suit their working style. This was yet another learning curve for us, as we had previously joined existing teams, whereas now we became founding members of the brand new squads.
“Reflecting back on my time as an apprentice at cap hpi, I can’t help but feel incredibly fortunate to have landed myself on a scheme that has allowed me to get a foothold into an exciting and ever-evolving industry. Considering that this has been my first job out of education, I’m delighted to have started off working at a great company doing a job that I enjoy. Although I feel I have learnt a lot over the scheme, what’s more notable is that I have become acutely aware of the volume of knowledge there is out there relating to software engineering. Spending time every day with colleagues that have many years of experience and far more knowledge than I do has been a humbling experience.
I’d like to personally thank the entire team, engineers, QA Analysts, product owners etc. for all of the help I’ve been given along the way. I couldn’t be more proud of my fellow apprentices, and we are now are looking forward to the challenge of the Junior Software Engineer role.” - Wesley
For any apprenticeship scheme to be successful it needs to be correctly structured. Everyone from the Product Development department had to be fully committed to the idea of bringing new minds into the workplace and helping us learn on the job. We all felt like this was carried out very well by the department; everyone was so helpful and keen to pass on knowledge. We found it very valuable to have regular catch up sessions with our Line Manager, allowing us to voice any questions that we had.
Another point to mention are the company induction sessions. These were carried out by volunteers from the department and worked as a great overview of the programs and applications that we would be using. We found these sessions valuable as it gave us a chance to ask about anything we were uncertain of.
When not at cap hpi learning from our team and mentors, we would be learning offsite at Estio training. Here we took all the exams associated with our level three certification. Choose the right training provider when considering an apprentice scheme imperative, the program that Estio offered was portfolio work to complete in your own time, and official exams from the likes of Microsoft and BCS.
A great aspect of this apprenticeship scheme was that there was a cooperative culture. Throughout the course we have all helped each other, pool ideas and answer questions to collectively reach our shared end goal of becoming Junior Software Engineers.
“The past fifteen months at cap hpi have been a valuable experience, I have learned a breadth of knowledge in the development sector in a small amount of time. I couldn’t have got to this stage without the well-structured scheme put together by cap hpi. I feel the three-month rotations and the buddy system helped develop my knowledge of not only the products, but also the technologies used, which has really helped me integrate into the company. Having come from a web developer role at an agency in a non-agile environment, it was a huge leap coming to cap hpi.
Before arriving at cap hpi my preconception of software development was minimal and closed, I thought I could learn everything needed within fifteen months. However, from my experience in the workplace alongside cap hpi’s senior engineers this preconception was proven wrong. The software industry is ever changing, one cannot simply learn/know everything, however I feel like the experience gained from this apprenticeship has put me on the right track to be able to pick up new technologies quicker and more efficiently.
I would like to thank the product development team and management for making the transition into cap hpi as smooth as possible, I feel after all the help and support from my peers I can comfortably transition into a Junior Software Engineer role at cap hpi, I look forward to the challenges I still have ahead of me in my development career.” - Zahid
It is true that there is a stigma surrounding apprenticeships, namely that they are only suited to those who didn’t get into university. We are happy to disprove and reject this stigma; in our experience apprenticeships have been a fantastic first step into an ever-evolving industry, that has put us on at least an equal footing with our peers studying STEM degrees.
Another aspect of the apprenticeship stereotype is that they are exclusively available to school leavers. In our case, the majority of us had other careers previous to this apprenticeship and have been able to start on the scheme as a foothold into a brand new, more exciting career.
There’s no doubt that the apprenticeship scheme at cap hpi is the turning point in all our careers in software development.
Now that we have completed our level three qualification and have been offered a permanent job here at cap hpi, we all collectively agree that we want to continue on the same career path, learning, growing and continuing to contribute to the business as best we can.
- The Junior Software Engineers