Blog - IT Degree Apprentices
Hear from some of our current crop of IT Degree Apprentices in our regularly updated blog below.
Baramee Thummatewin - IT Degree Apprentice
Name: Baramee Thummatewin
Job: IT Degree Apprentice
Location: Havant, Hampshire
2017 - June
Quite recently, summer weather in the South of England where I am, tends to be more like in Scottish Highlands, or put it simply, where weather is mostly dark and cloudy and the rare presence of the sun is a pleasant surprise. Speaking of uncertainty, it is, in itself, a symbolic reminder for us to prepare to whatever comes to our lives including in summer (ish) time; danger that comes with this particular time of the year can be as bad as in winter. For example, as I cycle to work on a daily basis, the level of sunlight at daytime in the summer really causes my eyes to feel irritated and reduces my visibility, thus reduce my ability to cycle safety. Wearing a pair of sunglasses would help, but given that I have a short-sighted pair of eyes and already accompanied by a pair of prescription glasses, wearing one of the glasses top of another would only make me look absolutely ridiculous. A real solution will be a pair of prescription sunglasses. Although it is relatively pricey, but when comfortability and safety whilst cycling are at concern; this would reduce a chance for me getting an accident. Ignoring safety can lead to any unknown danger, and they are more expensive to pay than a pair of glasses.
Although on the day of writing this paragraph, Tuesday, I am, already, thinking about the incoming three-day bank holiday weekend. Given that the reliable weather forecaster has predicted that the coming long weekend will be a good, sunny one. Therefore a plan for me is to go on a seaside somewhere nearby for an Ice Cream and Fish and Chips! First thing to point out though - heat, as I am not a fan of them, it is a less-than-worry thing to me, but for other people who enjoy them, this may be quite harmful to your skin from sunburn; sun cream is a cheap and cheerful solution for any sunny day. Also, with large crowds of people expected on seaside across the country this long weekend, beware of any sign shown that seems unsafe – noticing any unattended item on the streets or any individuals who may act suspiciously, being approached by any individual who offers you an unreliably cheap and cheerful product of any form on the streets, or any kind of event that happens around you that make you feel unsafe, these things could be a sign of danger that may not only affect you, but potentially to others as well. Report to Police. It is better to feel safe than sorry.
2017 - March
I would consider this month, March, to be the busiest period to date since I joined SSE back in September last year (2016) that affects both my regular business-as-usual activities at work and my time for the assignments submission for university. Due to the End-of-Year activities that my team and I are committing to do; the capacity that I used to have seem to be reduced as a result.
But I would consider this moment of time to be a lesson from which to learn, and, strangely, a challenge that I would want to win over. It is a moment in time that sets a new challenge for me to achieve. As I mentioned earlier, the EoY activities to clear up the system for which a colleague in my team and I are responsible that usually takes at least a month and a half to do so, but because of the delay this year on the starting period, the deadline is pretty much tighter; we need to get this done by the end of this month – a period when I will also I rotate out from my current area to a different team. Although there is, just recently, a new person who have just recently joined our team to come and help us; a jump start training to a new person will be done by me before I leave. Oh! There’s a how-to guide that I need to write for my fellow Graduates and Degree Apprentices who would come over to replace me once I rotated out. Not just ending there, the BAU activities – providing a support of the system to users across the department - is also a fulltime job in itself that I need to make sure they get the support in time. Finally, not to mention two university assignments to complete before the end of this month as well.
You can now feel the pressure in which I am occupying. But don’t you love being busy, Baramee? Yes, I do indeed. And it feels like I am winning by getting all the work done – thanks to the jar full of chocolate buttons on the side of the team’s shared area. Bring it on!
2016 - October
I experienced a fascinating first week. Although I have just settled it, ready to embrace and challenge whatever is in front of me, things were happening so fast in my team: it is the final week for one of our lovely team members here at SSE after achieving a fantastic 43 years of service, it is the final week for a talented member - a last year’s IT graduate who has been in the team for quite sometime - before a transition to another team, and personally this is the first week in my first degree apprentice rotation after a two-week period of the company induction.
I settled into the team very nicely; I had a chance to meet new people – inside and outside the team; I was introduced to a new world of managing resources; gaining, in depth, of the team’s responsibility and its importance towards the company as a whole; I was introduced to brand new tools and instructions on how to use them effectively for the team’s essential tasks. And as I mentioned earlier that one of our team members is leaving next week, I joyfully participated in helping to decorate our desks with flowers and balloons - it wasn’t so bad, at least my creativity skill was used!
Lets build a positive attitude, as you are not going to know what is going to happen in the future, in whatever you do, it’s always the best to start building a positive attitude, it may not be easy and sound theatrical, but, it works.
I see myself in the mirror, imagining myself as a credible person who is so keen on learning from the team, ensures that the team’s objectives are achieved and every voice of team members are heard, and to be remembered as an energetic, young, and talented apprentice who get things done rightly; someone whom is personally praised by a senior figure for an astonishing performance and made a difference to the company as a whole.
I believe it is crucially important to start a new thing, anything, with a positive attitude, and once that happens, you will never have imagined how much you will be gaining from it. Whatever you do, be prepared to embrace the unexpected. Really, not everything is that bad, enjoy it!
Jack Kelly - IT Degree Apprentice
Name: Jack Kelly
Job: IT Degree Apprentice
Location: Havant, Hampshire
2017 - June
I am two and a half months into my new rotation and I am really feeling like part of the team now. I am set monthly objectives to meet which can be challenging but they encourage me to push myself and learn more about this team every day. I am given the opportunity to request what areas I would like to explore and I am finding myself resolving all kinds of different incidents we are getting every day. I mentioned the three towers we work with in my previous blog update, and in the past month I have decided to broaden my knowledge of Ax. This also allows me to resolve most of the automated alerts we get coming in because Ax and CRM send each other so much information, so when an alert comes in I can check where the alert has come from and explore where specifically I need to look to resolve it, whether it is in Ax or possibly CRM. Other incidents I have dealt with are filemover alerts which are similar to connector map alerts but mostly involve sending and receiving information from our operational partners; these often involve having to chase different teams, both internal and external, to find out what has gone wrong and which team it needs to be assigned to.
In my current rotation I have been pushed to give lots of presentations, whether it is a progress update presentation or a safety initiative. These have really boosted my confidence in presenting and I now know better ways to tackle such a key skill here in the workplace. I have taken on feedback from every one of my presentations and have received really positive feedback that I am improving. This has allowed me to comfortably talk to every member in the team if needed and work with them to help resolve any incidents we have coming in, as opposed to just shadowing and keeping quiet.
University is going well and we are close to finishing our first year! We have a couple of coursework deadlines coming up and one exam to push through before we can enjoy the sun but so far I feel it has gone really well. I am really thankful for the support I’ve gotten from my fellow degree apprentices who have helped me whenever I have asked and taken time to run through presentations, explain new coding languages, and even updated me on intersessional tasks. My first year at Uni would’ve been much harder without them!
2017 - April
At the start of April we all moved into our new rotations and it was an exciting change. I was sad to leave my old team because I had built some great relationships but it is a new challenge we all needed to face. In the final stages of my last rotation I was able to support a project by authoring and reviewing a variety of documents. It was great to finally get stuck into a project and really help out the members of my team and deliver what I had learned so far. I was even allowed to remain supporting this project and provide help whenever I can for the next couple of months.
After leaving Infrastructure Project Management I rotated into the Home Essential Services team which hosts many more exciting opportunities for me to get involved with. I have so far been learning about the different job roles here and what the three main towers are; CRM, Ax, and Click. These all work together to allow the engineer to deliver what is required to satisfy the customer’s needs. It is a big change to my last rotation but I am enjoying building new relationships and finding out more about different areas within IT and SSE.
A few weeks ago we had our second set of university deadlines, I found some challenges within these assignments but with the help of my team I was able to implement creative solutions to my work. I was struggling to map out a network topology but luckily I knew someone in my old team who had walked me through bits of it before and could provide me more technical details to work with.
Most of the Degree Apprentices attended a trip to Thatcham right at the end of our rotations, which was brilliant because we were able to see a totally different side to SSE that we are used to. We were given a great hands on tour of the gas and electric training facilities which the engineer apprentices use.
2017 - January
Since my last blog update I have been given more interesting tasks to get involved in. I have been exposed to loads of different projects and gained a greater understanding of the goings on in Project Management. I have learned a lot more about Prince2 and what aspects people use from it in their projects. I found an interesting part of Project Management is the planning stages, where budgets are allocated and people are put into specific roles.
Another task I got to get involved in was helping out with some of the Surface Hub demos; I had to help out with the interactivity side of Skype for Business which involved calling in on a handful of different devices from different locations. I also got to help out with testing new headsets and monitors which I found interesting because it allowed me to get my hands on new pieces of tech.
Last month we were set our first University assignments which was stressful at first but we all helped each other out and met the deadlines. I was able to implement factors of my rotation into the assignments which I found useful because it allowed me to write more and provide personal experiences.
At the end of 2016, I had to give a presentation to the higher members of my team so they could find out what I’ve learnt and plan what work to set me in the New Year. I was congratulated on how well it went, which I was chuffed about. It was very nerve-racking building up to it but I felt great afterwards which really boosted my confidence with presentations. Now that I have a better understanding of projects, I have been able to ask more relevant questions in meetings and offer my help whenever I can.
2016 - October
I recently started my first rotation and already I can’t wait to get into my first project. I am working within Group IT in the project management team and have undergone a huge variety of tasks.
I was concerned I would spend my whole time shadowing but luckily I have been given tasks to keep me busy and build me up to my first project. The most interesting tasks I have been set include, helping out in a data centre, doing some testing on the new surface hub, giving presentations, and even sitting in on important meetings.
I was also able to go up to Reading to sit in on meetings about moving a data centre. I was able to look at the servers they plan to move and a glimpse at the location they could be moving to.
Jake Vernon - IT Degree Apprentice
Name: Jake Vernon
Job: IT Degree Apprentice
Location: Havant, Hampshire
2017 - March
I am now in the final month of my rotation in the Energy Systems Build and Support team. Since my last blog in January, I’ve continued to shadow members of the team, gaining more and more knowledge of what their job roles entail. Most recently I attended a Change Advisory Board (CAB) meeting where the Change Management Team, Project Managers and Change Drivers meet to discuss the changes that have been requested. The meeting assesses the change to understand what impacts it would have on other aspects of the business before the Change Management Team decide whether to approve or decline the request.
As well as working four days of the week I have continued to attend University every Wednesday. Since I last posted I have now completed both of my assignments for this semester. Having no experience with coding before I found the Python assignment particularly hard when it came to producing a Monte Carlo Simulation. Luckily, members of my team were happy to help me with anything I was unsure about as was my module lecturer at University. For my other assignment, I was tasked with proposing a new Network Topology for a small business who wanted to expand their company. I really enjoy assignment briefs like this as they help to put what we’ve been learning into a ‘real world’ scenario.
Across the next week I will be preparing for my next rotation in the Group IT Project Management team. I am also visiting the Thatcham Training Centre where Gas and Electrical fitters are trained.
2017 - January
Since my last blog post in November, I have now completed my first two modules at University and have now started my second semester! I am pleased to say that I managed to complete both of the assignments on time and am now awaiting my work to be marked. Expectedly, the work was quite challenging and a step up from college work that I’d done prior to starting this scheme. Despite this, the content that was delivered in the sessions leading up to this helped to form a starting point for our essays and then the large variety of resources available at University and SSE helped to develop a more knowledgeable, matured piece of work. Recently I’ve started my next two modules, ‘Introduction to Programming - Procedural Language (Python)’ and ‘Networked World; Systems and Architectures’ which I’m sure will be keeping me on my toes.
Whilst all of this has been going on in the background, I’m now more than half way through my first rotation in the Energy Systems Build & Support team. During this time, I’ve continued to attend regular team meetings which is helping to reinforce what I’ve learnt at University and put it into a practical environment. I have also been taking a more in-depth look at the processes of software development that the team follow, along with trying to understand the phases of project lifecycles within the team.
Outside of University and my placement, I have been making the most of the additional tasks available and have recently helped contribute towards a careers leaflet to promote the degree apprenticeship for this year’s intake.
2016 - November
So it’s been about a month since my first entry and so much has happened since then. Whilst still shadowing team members and sitting in on meetings, I’ve now had the opportunity to do so much more. Still very much a newbie in my team and the company, I’ve been introduced to difference processes and applications that my team deliver and maintain. Despite a considerable amount of this being code based work and seeing as I had no coding knowledge before starting this scheme, I’ve been able to work closely with members of the team to gain a greater understanding. Most recently I’ve been assisting a member of the team install software onto servers which I will then go onto test in the upcoming weeks.
In my first entry I mentioned that there were also a number of additional opportunities available for us apprentices to take part in and since then I’ve participated in a number of these. To reinforce SSE’s keen attitudes towards safety, a group of us created a safety risk board surrounding the issues with microwaving food that is now displayed in the office. I’ve also taken part in Sharepoint and Excel training as well as a course about driver safety. Whilst these are all optional I’m really enjoying taking part in as any of these as possible.
I’ve also been attending University every Wednesday where I’ve been completing my first two modules, ‘Introduction to Business Information Systems’ and ‘Working With Others in Academic and Workplace Settings’. The work I’ve been given during sessions is always manageable and there is always help from the lecturers in case you’re unsure or need any help.
2016 - October
After leaving college in the summer, the thought of full time work was pretty daunting for me. Following a two-week induction of getting to know my new surroundings and colleagues I started my first sixth month rotation in Wholesale Solution Delivery.
During my time in this area of IT I have already learnt so much about the SSE culture as well as an in-depth knowledge of the IT area. Shadowing colleagues and sitting in on team meetings have become part of my weekly routine, allowing me to reflect on what I’m learning at university and relate it to a real business.
Even after less than a month working for SSE there has also been a number of additional opportunities allowing us new apprentices to discover more than just our placement.
Patrick Morrissey - IT Degree Apprentice
Name: Patrick Morrissey
Job: IT Degree Apprentice
Location: Havant, Hampshire
2016 - December
I’ve been here for a few months now and I’ve got to know my team really well and they’re all a good bunch, very approachable. I’ve been doing some vim stuff; Vi/Vim is a text editor that we use. This technology has been around for ages so the best websites that teach you how to use it look like the first ever pages of the internet, it’s been kind of fascinating seeing help pages from the 90s still relevant and useful today. I’ve updated the document for the other apprentices on how to work in mid-range support with how to use vim and also some of the websites that I’ve used to learn.
SharePoint - I have a difficult relationship with SharePoint because of what little information there is on the internet about it, luckily every so often a SharePoint instructor comes down for training and I can badger them about it. SharePoint has a huge amount of potential with the right knowledge. As I mentioned before, my last job was around SharePoint services so I’ve been able to assist and advise both the apprentices and other colleagues and in return extend my own knowledge of who knows what in the company.
I was also tasked with being on the undergraduate leaflet team; I produced the design for the leaflet and compiled the information produced by other members of the team into it. The morning of the day I write this it just got approved so its smiles all around. It’s been nice to work with the other undergrads on a project and I hope we can keep on doing it, it’s refreshing to be involved in a project as a group.
I’m already excited for next year as we’ll then have another group of people on the course and someone else in each department. I’ve already enjoyed my first few months here immensely, not just the fun I’ve had with my colleagues but the constant challenges I face each day and the satisfaction of completing them.
2016 - October
So on the 26th of September I started officially working at SSE in mid-range support. What is mid-range support I hear you ask? Well that is a good question that I didn’t ask and probably should have. I learnt eventually that mid-range support works with the company’s UNIX servers to try and fix the issues that constantly bombard the people working here. The moment I came in they told me that no one here is ever not busy, which obviously sounded appealing as I was pretty excited to get some work done and try and fit in as soon as possible. Unfortunately it more meant that everyone was so busy they struggled to find me work, nevertheless I’ve since found ways to constructively increase my skills in preparation for the work that I was doing, during this time I even compiled a word document for the next undergrads who will come into my rotation and suggested others do the same.
It’s pretty daunting, I’ve worked an office job before and handled the responsibility well there but it took me a bit of time to adjust to such a heavy role in IT. Of course I’ve yet to be put into a place that I can do any damage but I have started doing actual work for the company that contributes to it, something I figured would take me months to do. It’s a pretty cool gig, which is a hell of an understatement, my friends have started joking that I’m a proper grown up now at the grand old age of 19.
So in the first week I was learning the ropes, reading and researching UNIX, despairing over the constant barrage of work that my co-workers endured and logging everything I did. The second week was more a repeat of the first week, leading me to start playing around a bit more in a sandbox server which led to some pretty funny moments such as renaming the server and panicking when I thought I’d broken it. Third week I started my AIX training course. AIX is the operating system used by the UNIX servers and is the lifeblood of the work done here so it was pretty important stuff. Since this course only comes round once every couple of years it means that there was no way I was missing out on it. Unfortunately that meant my two weeks of UNIX experience had to be enough to understand everything, needless to say I didn’t. BUT I did keep going at it and I’ve come around to it more in my fourth and fifth week.
It’s not all been UNIX and AIX however, some of it has been SharePoint. In my last job I designed one of the SharePoint sites, my mistake was informing people of this because I now have a bunch of people asking me about SharePoint and whether I can help with/do their SharePoint work. Of course I don’t mind at the moment as I can use the work and I enjoy SharePoint. All in all its been a hell of an experience and the opportunity ended up being amazing, I was on the fence about whether uni or an apprenticeship was right for me so getting the best of both worlds is something that will set me apart from candidates from other jobs, plus I’ve already developed one set of skills useful for one area of work and I’m only on my first rotation.
Robert Felstead - IT Degree Apprentice
Name: Robert Felstead
Job: IT Degree Apprentice
Location: Havant, Hampshire
2017 - August
The last month has been hectic. Many changes are happening in SSE IT and I have seen many of those take place.
I have started to find myself asking more questions, proposing more ideas to my rotation team, and trying to influence decisions where possible. There is nothing wrong with being inquisitive and striving to make a difference, after all that is a valued trait in any job.
As I have developed my understanding of the processes, Service Asset & Configuration Management (SACM) and Change Management (CM), I have been set more and more important tasks that others have a dependency on me completing. This adds a fair amount of pressure to my tasks; however, it also enables me to feel that the work I am doing is important and makes a difference to the company.
In the last few weeks especially, as the environment accounting data is uploaded into the Configuration Management Database (CMDB) and the processes are configured to adapt to the new IT process, there has been a much greater urge for the data in the CMDB to be accurate and up to date. This has meant multiple audits and compliance checks with how users are using the CMDB to capture data on assets, services, applications etc. Change Management have also been carrying out multiple pieces of work around improving user compliance and understanding of the process.
I will have more to talk about in my next post, as I will know more about my next rotation.
2017 - May
This was supposed to be a vlog, however, due to technical difficulties in enhancing the sound quality of my recording entry is in written form instead. The aim is to get hold of some better recording equipment for my next entry.
Since my last entry, I have changed rotation around the business. I am now in Service Asset and Configuration management Mondays and Tuesdays along with Change Management Thursdays and Fridays, of course not forgetting my Wednesday University day.
Service Asset & Configuration Management, also known as SACM, is about the control of software licensing, auditing and maintaining records held within the Configuration Management Database (CMDB) and Asset Management Database (AMDB).
Change management is about mitigating risk and impact by monitoring any changes taking place within IT, be it a project change or Infrastructure update etc. This is very much a role in which I help to facilitate others raising changes and have the authority to approve or decline them, based on level of detail and risk factor.
The two roles work very closely as part of two of the processes within the Information Technology Infrastructure Library 9ITIL) which is a set of best practises for IT Service management (ITSM).
Part of my work within both of these teams has been to help tidy up the processes and their housekeeping, along with also having to map Business Services based on their dependencies, within the CMDB. This work for SACM has been challenging as I have taken to making phone calls to get responses, alongside sending emails for written proof of contact. This is something I haven’t always been overly comfortable with, however, now I believe I enjoy making phone calls and find it much more rewarding that sitting behind a keyboard typing away to communicate with others.
I am starting a new piece of work shortly, part of Environment Accounting, which aligns with both Processes. Currently I do not have an awful lot of detail to share with you all about this new piece of work, however, come my next blog entry I will have much more to tell you.
I look forward to submitting my next blog entry, and “fingers crossed” my new phone will be better suited to recording strong audio quality alongside strong video quality.
2017 - February
My test plan and test strategy are nearing their sign off as I’m just making a few tweaks as requested from first/second review. There are around 100 tests that I have created and each has been marked with a severity rating, determining how important the test is to the overall release.
My role within the SMART testing team (recently renamed as Retail IT Operate Test Team) has altered slightly; I am now operating the Risk management for the team, which involves logging potential risks and the current mitigation of the risk, ready to upload to the Risk Management SharePoint site and report the risks and actions being taken to mitigate them to the monthly risk management meeting within my business area.
I am also now involved in creating a hierarchy chart of the SMART software support team by gathering each members’ specialisation and expertise regarding the software they support. This role will hopefully produce some form of hierarchical chart that my team can refer to when requiring software support.
I am also looking at making the teams planner more accessible and easier to understand, making it nicer to look at and simple to follow when looking at upcoming projects, testing required and who will be testing what during this project.
I am also tasked with maintaining the test handheld devices mimicking those that meter operatives use to check their jobs and record meter site information. These need to be logged onto every two weeks to stop them from locking out of the domain, any upgrades or problems that arise are sent to me to find the support required or where possible, run the upgrade myself.
All this is going in whilst also running several tests for the upcoming test phase, of which the updates being tested go live in March 2017.
In my next blog update I will be in my second rotation within the business and so will have a range of things to discuss – the end to my time within Retail testing and my beginning of working for IT Service Delivery, therefore I aim to make my next blog entry in video format to cover much more in a shorter space of time!
2016 - December
The past two months have been busy, with lots of training and learning taking place. I am now part of two separate teams; one is Retail Heritage Testing and the other is Retail SMART testing.
Within the Heritage Testing team I am in the process of creating a Test Plan for a piece of software called HP Quality Centre. Once I have created the Test Plan, I will be helping members of the team to run the tests on both the old version of Quality Centre and the newer version that has been released. This is challenging as I am starting the process of testing from the very baseline, building up the resources required to complete the tests. However, this is also an exciting opportunity as I can see the bigger picture of what testing is really about and witness each separate task that needs to be completed in order to run and complete tests for a piece of software/a service.
In the SMART Testing team I am focussing more on just running some of the tests that are set for the team to test from other team areas across the SMART project. This requires me to test more than just one piece of software; this testing involves end to end testing – testing that involves a whole service, rather than just one piece of software. Usually this involves multiple pieces of software and manipulating them as the user would to make sure that the data is communicating correctly between each piece of software and that the process is acceptable and functional for use by the user. This is interesting as the team is often hit with more testing requests and so it is constantly active and the team work pro-actively to make sure that each test required to be completed is covered by the deadline date.
My next post will be sometime mid-February so I’m sure that I’ll have more information to provide and more insight into the project with the Heritage Testing team as the testing gets underway.
2016 - October
I am delighted to have this opportunity to give some insight into my experiences at SSE and put forward my personal opinions on the roles and challenges that I am facing at my time here.
First of all, I would like you to know that I am one of SSE’s Degree Apprentices, a scheme which was brand new for when I joined in 2016. I guess you could call me a Guinea Pig for the Degree Apprentice scheme, as I’m sure that the feedback and ideas me and my colleagues put forward will make a rather large impact on the following Degree Apprentice schemes yet to come in the following years.
Before I joined SSE I had a fairly normal life, I started working as a volunteer Explorer Scout Leader for my local Scouting District. I play Squash whenever possible and I attended Barton Peveril Sixth Form College for two years where I studied A-level Computing, (Use of) Maths, AS Business Studies and BTEC Information Technology. I enjoyed my time at College but I felt somewhat that it didn’t seem to have the right pull factor, I didn’t feel like I was part of something big, able to make a difference and influence the people/world around me.
However, since joining SSE I have found that pull factor and I can see that what I learn at University and what I put into practice at SSE can make a difference, if not so much now, then in the years to come I can see it making quite an impactful change to the company and the way in which they use technology.
Across these four years I will end up experiencing various different IT areas including:
- System Testing
- Service Desk Support
- Service Delivery
- Business Analysis
- Project Management
- Cyber Security
- Application Development
I am also enjoying SSE because of its friendly culture – every employee within the company appears welcoming and are very supportive. If you have any worries, concerns, or personal issues then there is plenty of support available to you.
I also love some of the benefits that SSE offers; discounted online shopping, Vodafone discounts, New leasing schemes and SSE Shareholding schemes.
My current placement is within Retail, creating and running tests on some of the software used to manage and log all of the tests done within this directorate.
I’m enjoying my placement and it’s definitely something completely new to me and the challenges are always different, each week may bring a new challenge or a new task to complete.
I will be adding an entry each month so make sure you don’t miss out on a post.