IT apprenticeships – not just for men

Louise Mills, IT apprentice at Cisco, talks about the importance of women in the IT industry, and why she thinks more women should apply for IT apprenticeships.Opportunities as a female IT apprentice

Louise MillsIf you had asked me at the start what I would be doing during myIT apprenticeships, I wouldn’t have been able to answer. I couldn’t have imagined the things I have experienced as I progressed through the apprenticeship.

I’ve been in the press several times with regards to women in IT; I was part of the coreCiscoteam helping to organise the UN Girls in IT initiative across Cisco EMEAR, responsible for the Central Region; In January 2014 I spent 9 days in Milan as part of the infrastructure team for Cisco Live. When I went out there I didn’t expect to be leading a team of graduates and local students deploying parts of the network, but I did this successfully.

Influential women in IT

There are many influential women where I work at Cisco; I think that we need to leverage this to influence more women to join our industry. Having had the opportunity to meet some of these incredible women I have been inspired by them, and it has shown me that it’s possible for a woman to achieve amazing things within the IT industry.

QA Apprenticeshipsand Cisco are both constantly driving to encourage more women to join our industry and the business. I’m very much behind this; I get involved with many opportunities and schemes that show IT is a very broad industry with many different fields. I experienced these fields throughout my apprenticeship, doing placements in Sales, Delivery, Engineering and Customer Relations. Through these and the exposure I had to the wider Cisco community, I found out that Cisco had different initiatives aimed at women.

I am part of the core team for Connected Women UK&I. As a team we organise events for charity fundraising, such as Wellbeing of Women, and also internal programmes to enable people to develop and grow. “Executive Shadowing” is one of these, providing women the chance to work alongside executives in different fields to their own.

I have learnt a great deal from all my experiences, every time pushing myself further. It’s weird to look back and see how much I have changed from when I started my QA Apprenticeship here at Cisco. I’m a lot more confident and willing to push myself into situations where I’m out of my comfort zone so I can develop my skills and confidence. This has resulted in me successfully becoming aThames Valley regional finalistin the “Higher Apprentice” Category for the “National Apprenticeship Awards”. I find out the final results in September 2014 so fingers crossed!

What’s it like being a female IT apprentice?

People have the perception that IT is only for men, that IT involves taking computers apart and other technical aspects. Yes it is about the technical side but there is a lot more to it. My experiences on my IT apprenticeship alone show this.

Being in the IT industry is great! It’s rapidly growing, with technology constantly evolving and being developed. Having grown up with technology around me, it’s incredible to see how much it has advanced, pushing the boundaries constantly. This dynamic environment, full of innovation, is helping to shape technology that will help us every day in our lives.

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