My life as a Cisco Apprentice
Posted: 21st of July 2014 by firstname.lastname@example.org
Louise Mills, Cisco apprentice with QA Apprenticeships, talks about her decision to take on a life-changing apprenticeship with Cisco Systems Ltd.
The idea of university did not appeal to me, and after school careers talks during my A-Levels I realised I would prefer to follow a different path. This decision shocked my Head of Sixth Form, who was quite traditional in his thinking and believed that everyone should go to university. I didn’t get much support looking at alternatives, but I didn’t see the point in wasting my time and money submitting the UCAS university application when I had no intention of following it through.
I had to find out more information for myself because apprenticeships simply weren’t talked about in my sixth form. Through attending various events, I found out more and this path became much more appealing to me. Apprenticeships were better suited to me as a person particularly with the combination of earning whilst learning. I wanted to continue learning but also gain work experience in the industry – not just in the classroom.
I always enjoyed IT, which is why I was more than happy to accept a place on the Cisco apprenticeship scheme. After going through the recruitment process I became one of the first six apprentices to join the Cisco apprenticeship scheme.
The Cisco apprenticeship has given me the chance to gain so much experience, working in different departments within the business and allowing me to find my niche area to develop a career with Cisco. The scheme lasts for three years. The first year is comprised of three week placements in 6 different areas, enabling us to build on our foundation knowledge of Cisco as an operational business. I have had the pleasure to work with many different people and learn from them, developing my contacts within Cisco and becoming part of the Cisco family. The six-month placements in the second and third years enable me to get more involved and truly experience the roles I might wish to consider once my apprenticeship has ended and my career with Cisco begins in earnest.
Cisco has partnered with QA to provide training throughout the apprenticeship. During the first year I completed a level 3 Diploma in ICT Professional Competence, which is part of the Advanced Apprenticeship course. I am now working towards my level 4 Diploma, as part of the Higher Apprenticeship. I am so proud to be part of this scheme, which is an excellent way to start to my career with Cisco. My work has helped to contribute to the Cisco and QA partnership winning theApprenticeship Program of the year at the 2013 Learning Awards. The training that QA has provided us with has been a major factor in us being able to gain the ICT Tech status.
Part way through the final year of the apprenticeship and with full time employment prospects next July looking extremely positive, I can see how much this apprenticeship has done for me since the very beginning. I have learnt so much, worked with some amazing people and had so many incredible experiences. With the way the apprenticeship has been carried out, the training provided by QA and my passion for IT, I have been able to be the best I can be.
The majority of my friends took the other path and went to university, I am glad I didn’t, as I am so happy with my choice to take the apprenticeship path instead. I believe that apprenticeships should be discussed as an option with more people facing the choice, as many feel that they have to go university with no other options available to them. I’m glad the Government is doing more to raise the profile of apprenticeships because they have been overshadowed by university for years. It’s time for people to know that apprenticeships are just as good an option, and sometimes even better than university.