How did you find out about your apprenticeship?
Josh told us, “I found the vacancy by looking on the Indeed website. At the time, after leaving school, I was working at the local leisure centre (a job I had held since I was 14), but I was always actively looking for an apprenticeship in the IT industry. A few came up, but there wasn’t much room for growth in the roles and I knew I wanted to continue to progress my career after the apprenticeship had finished. I knew Phoenix was an opportunity not to be missed so I applied for the role and thankfully I got it. I began my apprenticeship straight from school after my GCSE’s in Nov 2018.”
Why did you choose a career in technology?
“I had always enjoyed computers and technology,” Josh explained, “I used to enjoy Graphic Design which ultimately inspired my love for technology. When I was in school though I initially wanted to go down the more athletic route. I did think I might train to be a physiotherapist as I enjoyed PE, but as I thought more about the future and the way technology is always growing with new technologies constantly being developed, I decided to follow the IT path instead.”
What information did school tell you about IT apprenticeships as a career path option?
“Absolutely nothing”, Josh told us, “the issue at school is that for some reason they want everyone to go to college or uni which is fine if you want to do that. However, I did not want to spend years studying to potentially not get as far as I would in an apprenticeship as for me that was wasted time.
I wanted to learn while on the job, get paid for it and allow the company to train me up however they like.”
Josh added, “On apprenticeships, instead of just studying you are doing the practical work at the same time. This helps gain a better understanding of what the job entails rather than just studying, like at University or College.”
How has your role grown since you started at Phoenix?
Josh said that when he joined there was just one team of 6, but now Phoenix have 3 separate teams totaling 18 members. His personal growth has followed a similar trajectory. Josh joined the company as an Apprentice Junior Technical Support Analyst and then became a Technical Support Analyst in Jan 2020. He has since been promoted to his current role of Cloud Support Analyst. Josh explained, “If you put enough effort into the apprenticeship programme and your job role to successfully complete it then after that you can carry on progressing with no end or limit.”
How did apprenticeship studies fit in with new job?
Josh told us, “Nick Tones (Intequal’s Pathway Planner/Trainer) was fantastic! Without him messaging and calling me every 5 mins to get my exams done, I think I would be still sat here. Massive thanks to Nick 😊. I did not know anything about corporate IT, but the fact the trainer knows what they are talking about puts confidence in the learner. I initially would hear the words but have no idea how that relates in the real IT world. He added, “The training fitted in really well as we booked in six-month segments, each week we would know which day we would be doing training on and just made sure we kept our calendars clear for that morning or afternoon.”
How did you apply the knowledge gained form studies in your role?
Josh explained that given the company was much smaller when he first started, he was largely in at the deep end, albeit well supported by his manager Richard Barwick. He gained lots of exposure to customer activities and projects which was a real advantage when it came to his exams as Josh said he had already covered the topics and the real-time experience gained made the exams much easier.
How supportive was your employer with your studies?
Josh told us, “My manager, Richard, was an advocate of apprenticeships having been on one himself. He knew the importance of providing me with the time required for training and actually getting it done. Together with Nick he helped me stay on track to get my studies completed on time.
What kinds of activities are involved in your job?
“Previous to my current Cloud role”, Josh explained, “I was a Technical Support Analyst which included management and support of various versions of Exchange Server, Windows Server and more. I was offering Break-Fix and Pro-Active Support to over 70 Managed Service Customers day in day out. I have also been involved with leading and working on large scale customer Office 365 migrations of up to, and sometimes over, 25,000 mailbox at a time. This helped give me the experience I needed in order to progress and gain my promotion into the Cloud Team.”
Have you continued studying since your apprenticeship?
Josh said, “After successfully completing my apprenticeship I was working towards further Azure qualifications which are highly sought after in a technology-based role like mine. It’s all good being able to say you can do these things, but having the qualification to go alongside reinforces the experience you have as you progress in your career.”
How do you see yourself progressing?
Josh explained, “In my day to day role, I deal with Cloud Governance, Optimisation, Security and Support, specifically in Azure & Microsoft 365 for our Managed Service Customers, as well as internally. Along with this I hold customer facing Azure Security Reviews to advise on and implement security recommendations in line with the latest CIS Benchmarks. Furthermore, I am a Technical Account Manager for a number of customers which shows the responsibilities I have in my role.”
He added, “Going forward I would like to become an Azure Cloud Consultant, perhaps specialising in security. With the introduction of managing Azure Sentinel Solutions I enjoy investigative work and find it really interesting.”
What would you tell your 16 yr old self looking at career options?
Josh said “My personal advice would be don’t overly worry about your qualifications, they are important, but just do your best. I didn’t do anything IT related in my GCSE’s and still got the apprenticeship as Richard was looking for a candidate with the right attitude and enthusiasm to learn.
He added, “If you want to be in an industry that is continuously evolving, then I would definitely recommend looking at IT and digital-based roles. In my view, there will always be money in technology, new opportunities opening up and new roles being introduced that don’t even exist yet. It’s definitely not a boring career choice and if you put enough effort in, you’ll really enjoy it.”