Another successful graduate from the Abavus IT apprenticeship programme! Shem Hutson is now working in a full-time permanent position with us. We spoke with Shem to gain an insight into his time as an apprentice.
1. Why did you decide to do an apprenticeship as opposed to a university degree?
I was 22 going on 23 when I joined the Abavus IT apprenticeship programme. Before that I was playing as a semi-professional footballer with a job in IT. If my career as a footballer didn’t work out, the plan was to continue with IT. I also worked part-time as a personal trainer for a while, but I wasn’t making enough money to stick with it. Ultimately, I decided to focus my attention on IT, and an apprenticeship was a good step to getting serious with it. I thought it would be an excellent opportunity to gain experience and earn industry recognised qualifications simultaneously. I felt that taking this path would help me develop more quickly compared to a university course.
2. What was your interest in IT?
I’ve always had an interest in IT, achieving an A grade in my school IT exam. I enjoy the networking element as well as the software side. I wouldn’t say there’s just one area that really interests me – it makes sense career-wise as it’s an industry that offers good financial reward as well as varied opportunities. Doing an apprenticeship would allow me to earn money while learning IT skills to improve my employability in future endeavours. It was kind of a no-brainer for me!
3. Why did you join Abavus?
Abavus was the first company I had an interview with regarding the apprenticeship. The qualifications offered by the company were exactly what I was looking for. During the interview, the directors were open with me from the beginning, and I quickly felt positive about the company, how it was growing, and how they also wanted to help others grow. It was an easy choice for me in the end!
4. What was your role when you started Abavus? and how has it developed?
I joined Abavus as a Technical Support Executive, working as part of the support team. My role involved problem-solving, creating user guides, engaging with customers via support tickets, and escalating issues to senior members and our development team when necessary. I now work as a Technical Consultant, which involves project management and going on-site with customers to train them. My role has developed a lot, as I now organise and communicate internally and externally much more than in my support role. It’s also a lot more technical, as I am involved with in-depth testing of integrations and other key system areas.
5.What did you find challenging about doing the course and working full time?
Time management was a challenge at first, trying to balance getting my job done while completing coursework and studying for exams. As I gained more experience my time management improved. The most difficult times were during company software upgrade periods where I was expected to work longer hours (including some weekends for big upgrades) as these involved a great deal of testing before, during, and after deployment.
6. What do you enjoy most about the role?
I mentioned before that I enjoy the networking side of IT, so I enjoy interacting with customers face-to-face and getting to know the people we’re delivering our solution to. My role in Abavus has me working in different areas, so I always have a variety of tasks to do – it’s a fluid and flexible job. The team I work with is practical, down to earth, and personable, so they’re very easy to get along and work with.
7. How has your role changed since the pandemic?
I joined the team as lockdown measures were being lightened, so the pandemic didn’t have a tremendous impact on my role in the company. One of the advantages of working at Abavus is that their software is cloud-based with everything online, enabling the team to work from anywhere with an internet connection. My apprenticeship has been entirely online as well.
8. Is there anything about the apprenticeship scheme that you would change?
There were times I had to complete exercises twice due to course changes during the programme, which was a bit annoying. Some of the study materials could have been more informative as well. I had to do a lot of self-study to fully understand and appreciate certain aspects of the course. Overall, it was an interesting and worthwhile programme to complete!
9. What are your career goals as you reach the end of your apprenticeship?
I want to continue growing by developing my IT skillset so I can help myself and the business to achieve as much as possible.
10. What advice would you give to someone who was thinking of taking a similar route?
If you’re thinking about starting an apprenticeship, just go ahead and get started. My apprenticeship has flown by, and you will be way further along by the end of it. You’ll get a good level of education, and you’ll mature a lot. Apprenticeships are a great choice – if you have the work ethic, you won’t regret it.