"The experience has transformed me... I found the apprenticeship opportunity daunting as I was from a conservative background but Lloyds Banking Group and Manchester Met embrace diversity which encouraged me."
Breaking the norms
I experienced a troubled childhood, but despite having to deal with a series of crisis as a young teenager, the difficulties made me a strong woman, keen to improve my skills and build a successful academic/professional career. I broke the norms as my conservative culture tried to restrict my pursuit of a career.
I started from rock bottom by working as a Night Shift Replenisher at Asda Supermarket to make ends meet. I worked a physically demanding job throughout the night until sunrise. Alongside, during the day, I chased my dreams by studying a diploma in computing, completed an intense 2-year course in the space of 1 year to reach my full potential of success.
Choosing a Degree Apprenticeship
After finishing my Diploma with Distinctions, I was considering various options and ended up securing an apprenticeship with Lloyds Banking Group at Manchester Metropolitan University.
I always wanted to gain valuable hands-on practical experience while gaining a qualification, which the traditional university route could not offer. University provides theoretical knowledge, whereas doing an apprenticeship with Lloyds allows me to transform myself from one area of speciality to another and gain crucial experience in the Computing field.
The best part about doing an apprenticeship is that I’m not spending all my time stuck in a classroom studying instead I work and am involved in a team with professional colleagues.
The experience so far
The experience has transformed me, and all my anxieties have disappeared. I found the apprenticeship opportunity daunting as I was from a conservative background but Lloyds and Manchester Met embrace diversity which encouraged me. Ultimately, the experience has been interesting and challenging which has motivated me to succeed and set goals in life. This wouldn’t have been possible if I did not have continuous support.
I was pregnant during the last academic year and gave birth towards the end, but was determined to maintain outstanding results on my exams and assignments. I found it difficult but always rewarding as I successfully met all the deadlines. My Skills Coach, teachers, line manager and colleagues were extremely happy with my achievements and how I managed to continue working on work projects and academic studies.
Work, study and pregnancy
At Manchester Met, Dr. R Nawaz’s (Director of Digital and Technology Solutions) guided me and identified ways that helped me balance work and study. My Skills Coach set up monthly calls on how to achieve assignment and exam deadlines, while my line manager assisted me on projects at Lloyds. I found making a to-do list, prioritising tasks and setting reminders for work and academic deadlines kept me on track to accomplish my set targets.
When I became pregnant with my first child, due in February 2020, I was still determined and motivated to complete the degree within the four years. I did not want to take a break in learning or defer until next year. This was challenging – waking up at 4am to travel and continuing projects at Lloyds while managing and preparing for assignments and exams. I wanted to get the same excellent marks as I previously achieved and always aimed to get a 1st class degree.
A big project at Lloyds was coming to an end a week before my due date and I needed to present the final product to the team. At the time, I had swollen feet, the baby was kicking, I was sleep deprived and physically bigger than ever but I enjoyed the workload pressure and all my team members and manager appreciated my commitment and hard work.
Implementing learning at work
Doing a degree apprenticeship has allowed me to start with the basics and move to an advance level of technology while applying my knowledge in the workplace. Working on live projects and developing essential skills in programming equips me with the right knowledge required to progress in my career.
Currently, I am studying Advanced Programming and pro-actively developing the Lloyds Banking Group mobile app, where I continuously learn about other technology platforms. This would not be possible if I had done a traditional degree and I would have not been able to grow my career as enthusiastically as I can now.
At Lloyds, my line manager has always been supportive of my academic studies and allocates time to complete my assignments. I am placed in a relevant business area that aligns to my studies, ensuring I have a supportive community that boosts my confidence to pursue my career goals. Working at Lloyds has driven me to build and improve technology for the next generation.
After completing my undergraduate, I am looking to do a postgraduate degree with the support from Lloyds. Previously, I have been pro-actively participating in projects, but my line manager and I concluded that I should become a technical lead and manage a project from start to end.
I have had a few months off on maternity leave since February and am dedicated to completing the degree and developing my professional career when returning to work in June/July.
Next at Lloyds, I will be taking on another challenge, looking for new and exciting opportunities that push my boundaries and broaden my knowledge in A.I and Machine Learning to boost my career.
It’s just the beginning and I can’t see myself slowing down!
Advice for future degree apprentices
As degree apprenticeships are more popular than ever, I would recommend candidates explore options available in their chosen discipline. A degree apprenticeship is worth the extra year as compared to a normal undergraduate degree because the skills and experience you gain are not comparable with a traditional undergraduate degree. Employers are backing apprentices and ensuring they develop the relevant hands-on skillsets by offering apprenticeship programs in several disciplines.
I couldn’t ask for any better option and I’m glad I was chosen for the Degree Apprenticeship at Lloyds. I found the apprentice journey outstanding and would never look back or go down the university route.