05 Feb 2020

My Apprenticeship Journey: The Unorthodox Route to an Orthodox Career

Guest blog for National Apprenticeship Week by Wipro IT Consultancy Apprentice, Maryum Khanum Mirza exploring her apprenticeship journey.

I am a degree apprentice, working with Wipro since 2017 having joined soon after completing my A Levels. During my GCSE years, I was convinced an orthodox university approach was not for me, given the extraordinary debt and the lack of real life experience in the industry. As such, I began to explore other options available to me, one of which was apprenticeships. As I did my research, I realised I was able to continue my learning and development whilst at work with the support of my employer. The opportunity to learn from those around me was a key selling point as I feel the best knowledge to gain is from those who have travelled the path before me- experience teaches you what books and exams cannot. To learn I would also be paid for the duration of the apprenticeship was the cherry on the cake- I was sold.

Then came finding the right apprenticeship for me. To my amazement, there were many apprenticeships available, even in industries I wouldn’t have thought would take apprentices. I enjoyed IT and Business Studies at GCSEs and had also picked them as options for my A Levels- these were the two areas in which I looked for apprenticeships. As most apprenticeships were advertised and recruiting during traditional exam seasons, I was unable to select apprenticeships for which I would apply until my final year of A Levels. Whilst sitting my exams, I began my ‘apprenticeship-hunt’; the forensic search of the Internet for apprenticeships; tweaking and polishing my CV and the daily ritual of scanning my inbox looking to hear from potential employers.  After a handful of interviews at blue chip companies and then the rejections, I came across a degree apprenticeship for Wipro which was well structured, well paid and exciting. Within 2 weeks, I had applied, been interviewed and hired!

After a month in the workplace, I attended three months at Sheffield Hallam University to complete my first year of courses, covering areas such as Hardware and Networks and Cybersecurity. Once I returned, I trained specifically for my new project role which I began soon after at GlaxoSmithKline in Brentford. Here, I worked on both my technical and soft skills by working on several different business objectives with the support of my work-based mentor and the University. My progress was monitored and I was able to reach out for support when needed. I learnt the art of problem solving and persuasion in the workplace by observing the practices of those around me and was able to use these skills when working with others in the department.

In the 18 months I was based at GSK, I was able to develop my business brain and understand the key role of technology in the supply chain, specifically the Pharma supply chain and the role each stage plays in providing medication for those who are in desperate need. Working at GSK gave me insight to the innovative implementations of technology used to speed up the supply chain process and the crucial role technology plays in saving lives. As well as working on projects, I have also been completing my Bachelors of Science in Digital Technology Solutions, requiring me to attend Sheffield Hallam on a quarterly basis and studying independently away from university. Now in my third year, I am keen to develop my skills elsewhere within Wipro and am due to join my new project in the coming weeks. 

One of my highlights of the apprenticeship so far is when I was chosen to speak to our CEO, Mr Abidali Neemuchwala. I had never been so excited and nervous! I was so nervous I almost didn’t want to do it, but I pulled through and am so glad I did. It isn’t every day you can say you presented to the company’s CEO at 19 years of age! I’m so glad I made the right decision as both my skills and business knowledge have grown due to the exposure of the industry.

Find Maryum Khanum Mirza on LinkedIn.