My opinion of the IBM Degree Apprenticeship – Megan Murray

Hello!

For my blog this quarter I decided to cover my opinion of the Degree Apprenticeship Scheme… and as a painfully honest person it’s always a little bit scary to voice your opinion on anything; let alone when your employer and people responsible for your future career will be reading what you have to say!

A summary for those of you reading who may not be aware of the scheme – the IBM Degree Apprenticeship is a part time degree over 4 years in Digital & Technology Solutions (Computer Science and Business essentially), and we attend Queen Mary University of London twice a week during term time and work at IBM for the rest of the time as normal employees. This year was the first year of the scheme and after a couple of weeks of exams the first year of uni will be complete!

The first opinion I guess I’d have to give is that it is hard work… you get plenty of uni students who struggle and they’re often not even having to balance going to work for one of the biggest tech/business companies alongside it all! It can be stressful and difficult to keep up with everything you’ve got going on, plus depending on your background, the content can be tough to get your head around, especially if you’re trying to learn stuff for work at the same time! Thankfully though IBM really are very flexible with it all and if you’re struggling, there is always something that can be done or someone who can help, but resilience definitely goes a long way.

The second thing is the number of opportunities to do something else in addition to your ‘everyday’ apprenticeship, it’s astounding! For me I wanted to fully focus on university and getting through first year until I really got involved in anything else, but I can’t wait to start to get stuck in to some other events and opportunities that are open to apprentices.

Thirdly, it’s massively rewarding… even more so because it is difficult. Whether it’s passing a mid-term or handing in a piece of coursework, or doing something to really help your team, or taking part in some Giveback. You are praised for what you do achieve, and supported in what is more difficult. The apprenticeship scheme at IBM is recognised and you are appreciated. It’s difficult not to be proud of yourself when everyone is telling you how much you should be when taking on a degree and work at the same time!

Finally, because it is a central reason why many people take apprenticeships, it’s undeniably a huge attraction not having to pay your uni fees and get in all that debt. They’re covered by the Government and IBM, plus you get a salary so technically you almost get paid to go to university, plus you get tons of real world experience and knowledge too… and that’s pretty sweet whichever way you look at it.

In summary, I guess my opinion is that if you’re willing to put in the hard work and dedication then this scheme is a really good option. It’s rewarding, comes with plenty of opportunities, gives you the chance to learn loads of new stuff and kick starts your career… I don’t think anybody could say that isn’t a good choice.

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2 thoughts on “My opinion of the IBM Degree Apprenticeship – Megan Murray

  1. Callum Wright May 17, 2016 at 10:22 am Reply

    Hello Megan,

    What a nice read that was. I am Callum Wright, I started my Apprenticeship in 2012 and finished it last year (graduated if you like), in 2015. It is very interesting to read your comments on the scheme. I’ve always been skeptical of it because I feel an ‘Apprenticeship Degree’ is the perfect contradiction, surely?

    I mean I chose the apprenticeship route to not go to University. University wasn’t for me and so I am just wondering what attracted you to the scheme in the first place? The whole idea for me of an apprenticeship was to earn and learn and bypass, as it were, university.

    Also how do you find the time to balance out work and uni? Are you hours still 40 a week or has that been reduced to suit your university hours and courses? I’d also be interested to hear about your pay and how it differs to the full time working apprenticeship. I know pay can be a funny subject so if you’d rather not comment and just ping me at work instead, then please feel free to do so.

    I’m very interested to hear what you have to say! 🙂
    Ping me if you’d like to.

    Thank you,
    Callum.

    • megankmurray May 17, 2016 at 10:47 am Reply

      Hi Callum, thanks – glad you enjoyed the post!
      I understand that it’s normally ‘apprenticeships vs university’ but I think these new degree apprenticeship schemes fill another gap in the market – for those who want to go to uni but want to start their career and practical learning too and have the dilemma of picking between the two. I liked the idea of a degree, but I didn’t want years of debt to study something I wasn’t sure about and might not even be able to get a job out of at the end of it. I actually originally applied for the gap year scheme with the idea that a year’s work experience might help me decide what to do and got transferred on to this scheme (this explains a bit better how and why I got here: https://ibmapprentice.wordpress.com/2016/03/07/6-months-feels-more-like-6-weeks-megan-m/ ).
      We have 2 days a week at uni during uni term then work the same hours as everyone else the rest of the time to help us balance it all.
      Pay is the same, no difference there at all and we went on induction with the other apprentices in our intake too and will be doing PEL1 soonish, though this had to be delayed for us as it was scheduled during our exam period.
      Let me know any other questions, always happy to answer, and thanks for reading!
      Megan 🙂

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