Do you ever feel like you’re heading towards university, a degree and lots of student debt but without ever really considering if it is truly the right thing for you? You’re not alone. Uni can be an awesome experience but it’s not for everyone and it’s pretty expensive these days. A degree apprenticeship can be a really great alternative, giving you the chance to earn the right qualifications and build a career you love at the same time.
“What is an apprenticeship?” you might ask, “Isn’t that something people do to learn a trade?”. Well yes, learning a trade from the ground up can be done through an apprenticeship. Degree apprenticeships, available in an ever-growing number of subjects such as computing and engineering, can offer you even more.
A degree apprenticeship allows you to earn and learn at the same time. Yes, really - you’ll be paid to study. You’ll be picking up valuable work experience along the way from your employer, who also pays your university tuition fees. Plus you’ll come out with a full honours degree, just as you would a traditional degree, at the end of it all.
As part of National Apprenticeship week, we spoke to Anika Mehangra, 21, who is two years into a degree apprenticeship in Digital and Technology solutions at Aston University to find out what life as an apprentice is really like.
What is your degree apprenticeship all about?
The job is very varied and allows me to work on all aspects of programming while studying for a degree at the same time – I am getting valuable work skills as well as the necessary technical skills and I receive the support I need to help me pass my degree. I work on programming and coding at Capgemini. So far I have helped revamp a website for a client, made an app for booking study leave with my boss and learned managerial skills.
Why did you choose an apprenticeship?
I’d never even heard of apprenticeships and was planning to do a normal full-time degree. But a teacher at college encouraged my class to do an educational competition for children which my team won. It led me to Capgemini for a day where they mentioned their apprenticeship scheme. I realised this was the right route for me because I wasn’t that keen on normal studying. An apprenticeship was a lot more interesting and engaging for me because it meant I could combine study with work.
What’s an average week like?
I work full-time on various different projects so it is like a normal job but they are constantly pushing me to learn more skills in the workplace which is great. Sometimes, the project I am working on will be directly related to my degree and form part of it. Other times, I have to work a normal week then go home and put in around 25 to 50 hours of study on top. It’s tough but it is definitely worth it. We have online lectures twice a week as well.
Do you ever feel like you’re missing out on student or uni life?
Some people initially said to me I would miss out on being a uni student, they’re the best years of your life, and I did worry but then you realise you have a lot more freedom. Instead of going to uni and being in debt, I have a job, a salary, I am learning valuable skills and gaining a qualification, and I get the chance to go on several holidays a year!
What’s the best bit about being an apprentice?
For me it’s about giving back. Many young people still have no idea apprenticeships even exist. I visit colleges and talk to them about the value of apprenticeships – it’s great to inspire them and show them what they can do. I was the first person in my family to do an apprenticeship – now both my brother and sister are going to do one as well.
For more information about degree apprenticeships visit http://www.aston.ac.uk/apprenticeships
For further information about apprenticeships with Capgemini visit https://www.uk.capgemini.com/careers/your-career-path/apprentices