Why I Left my Retail Job for an IT Apprenticeship with QA

Alex Small,Software Development apprenticeandMicrosoft Apprentice of the Year 2014, blogs about how he went from a regular job in retail to a full-blown career in IT with QA Apprenticeships.“From a dead-end job with limited career prospects to a job with endless… career opportunities”

Prior to starting my apprenticeship, I had been working in retail full-time. WhileI enjoyed the initial challenge when starting the role I soon realised the job had limited career growth opportunities and decided that working in retail as a sales person wasn’t for me. I had thought long and hard aboutwhat I wanted to do for work but made no progress, all I knew was that it had to be something Ienjoyeddoing if I was going to spend the majority of my time doing it.

But simply “thinking” about getting a new job is never enough. I had heardof apprenticeships butnever really knew what they were. I was always told by myschool and parents that I needed to ‘find a job’, but was never told I could‘find an apprenticeship’instead.

I saw an advertaboutQA Apprenticeships in a newspaper on my way home from a very late shift. After discoveringthat there are in fact many other routes into the world of work, I then decided to investigate apprenticeships further and contacted QA.

I applied for aSoftware Developmentapprenticeship, having never written a single line of code in my life. I am now an experienced developer – which demonstrates that you do not need to know a great deal about the technologies or processes used.

“Two of the most important weeks of my life”

The application process was simple – I filled-in some details online, spoke to someone on the telephone and found myself being interviewed by QA staff within a week! Following this I had two interviews with prospective employers – and QA ensured I was prepared for every interview. At this time I was quite scared, I hadn’t done anything like this before.

QA offer tech, digital and IT apprenticeships across the UK

QA offer tech, digital andIT apprenticeshipsacross the UK

Whilst nervous during the interviews (who wouldn’t be withoutany“industry” experience?) I was offered an apprenticeship role within twoweeks. Looking back they were two of the most important weeks of my life. I had moved from a dead-end job with limited career prospects to a job with endless learning and career opportunities.

The role itself was extremely varied – I was thrown into the deep end helpingpeople within businesses to use their computers. I helped within a team to move companies to the latest cloud technologies. During this time (and to this day) I have worked with people of all levels of seniority and companies of all sizes. And it must be remembered that whilst balancing my “day job” I also had apprenticeshipwork to complete. The programme included great hands on training, boot-camps and learning with other apprentices in similar positions to myself – all thisresulted inindustry-recognised certifications

I contributed to thecompany blogabout my experiences at work as an apprentice.My very first blog entry talks about what I experienced on my first day at a customer site (and being amazed at seeing the inside of a Data Center!) and the latter blog entries discuss coding.

“[If] your current job isn’t that fulfilling…I would thoroughly recommend contacting QA to look at your options”

When I look back and compare the time when I was a sales person to now, my colleagues and I at the time had no certainty in those roles; we were unsure whether the jobs we were doing then would provide us a future career. In comparison myIT apprenticeship provided a very solid foundation for the rest of my career and I feel respected as well as avalued member of my team.

If I never took the time to contact QA apprenticeships I would be in a completely different position today – possibly still doingshift work in retail with little opportunity to grow.

Ultimately I took a big leapin leaving my job in retail to try something new, and in return learnt valuable skills which have already proven to give me security. Passing an IT apprenticeship will provide essential life skills and can almost guarantee you a full-time job in a career afterwards when you pass. If you think your current job isn’t that fulfilling or maybe has little growth prospects I would thoroughly recommend contacting QA to look at your options.

A few weeks can change your life.

QA Apprenticeships are hiring now for hundreds of tech, digital and IT apprenticeships across the UK right now.Click here to search for apprenticeship positions near you.

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