Flying Start degree Apprenticeship route
27 February 2020
Meet our first careers week champion, Sam Parker, a Technology Degree Apprentice at PwC, who studies Computer Science (Digital & Technological Solutions) at the University of Leeds.
I first found out about my course when I was completing PwC’s Digital Insight week which helped me learn more about the technology opportunities PwC offer, and the work they do. I put it down as one of my UCAS choices and was offered to attend an assessment day in Leeds where I completed an interview, a group activity and a Q&A session.
I felt the day went well and heard back the next day that I had been offered a place on the course - I was over the moon! The final hurdle was to achieve my A level grades which involved a lot of revision and hours in the library. However, come results day I was thrilled to find out I’d got what I needed and had secured my place on the Technology Degree Apprenticeship.
No day the same
The people I work with, both at PwC and at university, are all really friendly and will genuinely do everything they can to help you, which makes for a really supportive environment and one where you look forward to going to work.
My typical day varies depending on whether I’m at university or on placement. At university I live a normal student life with lectures and coursework and the occasional PwC engagement session to keep us in touch with work.
On placement we work with teams on projects and this changes a lot depending on where you’re based and what your team is currently working on. This may include trips to a client site, training, travelling to give talks at local schools and lots more - but the main thing to take away is that no day is the same. PwC offers ‘everyday flexibility’ in your work which is great as it allows you to base when and where you work around your personal commitments.
I really like the variety and flexibility of the work, plus there are lots of chances to get involved in things outside of work too, with volunteering days, training and schools events which help you to grow as a person and a professional.
It’s been great to apply what I’ve been taught at university to real-life scenarios instead of those you read about in a textbook and see how they can be used to make a difference in practice. This is not just on a computer, but also in situations involving people and business systems. We are also kept in the loop with guest speakers and talks on interesting topics in our engagement sessions.
My biggest challenge at the moment is managing many different projects. As part of studying for my degree, I frequently have deadlines for projects, essays and coursework - so the hardest part is staying organised so I can complete them all whilst also having time to live my life outside of university. However, through my placement I have learned techniques and tools that have helped me to feel like I have everything under control.
My role as a degree apprentice has grown over the last year as the course has led to more integration with time at PwC. I’m now regularly given the chance to help with local schools or careers fairs which has been a great way to go full circle and help people who are in the position I was just a few years ago.
Over the next few years I’m not quite sure yet which direction I’d like to go in. I know I’d love to work in technology but I’m looking to see how my upcoming placements go to see what suits me best.
A career to take you places
Computer Science teaches you vital skills in a subject that is only going to continue to grow. My degree apprenticeship is also a fun and fascinating way to learn more and gain a job in something that a lot of young people already have experience in and enjoy. It’s a chance to put things they already do into practice and learn more about a fascinating and evolving industry that’s always looking for new talent.
Many people have misconceptions surrounding computer science, whether it’s that ‘you need to be the next Bill Gates’ or that it’s just sitting in front of a screen all day coding. More awareness around the subject will show people that these ideas are misinformed and in fact it’s a great and exciting career that can take you to many places!
Sam’s career advice
- One massive thing I’d recommend would be to try and get some work experience under your belt - even better if it’s in the area you’d like to have a career in. Just spending some time working and experiencing the real world of work will teach you lots of things about yourself and, while it may not directly relate to what you’d like to do, it’ll teach you transferable skills which you can apply to your dream career. Learning not just what you like, but also what you don’t, is very useful and allows you to learn what’s best for you and narrow down your options when you’re looking in the future.
- Keep up to date with current events and news in the industry you’d like to join. Employers expect their people to know what’s taking place in the world and it’s likely that something related to current events will crop up in an interview, plus it’s good to have some awareness around your area of interest.
- Be open to trying new things. Don’t limit yourself to ‘I want a job doing x, y or z’ as this can massively cut down your options when looking for opportunities. Additionally, lots of organisations are quite flexible and want the best for their people, so there’s often opportunities to swap to another area.
Opportunities are at the heart of a career with PwC. Their purpose is to build trust in society and solve important problems for their clients, helping them tackle business challenges and improving how they work. They have School and College Leaver opportunities in Audit, Consulting, Deals, Tax and Technology.
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