My Apprenticeship

My Apprenticeship
The Apprentices

Wednesday, 18 February 2015


Since my post in August, where I had sent the last piece of evidence off for my NVQ portfolio, I have passed my NVQ. The last piece of evidence was enough to complete the criteria needed so I was pleased to complete it a month before the deadline.

Because I am on the Network and Infrastructure team until the end of my apprenticeship, the industry specific qualification I have chosen to study for is the Cisco Certified Network Associate qualification. This exam validates the ability to install, configure, operate and troubleshoot medium sized networks, including different sites as part of a Wide Area Network. This will help me get on the networking ladder. Getting hands on experience in the workplace has also helped me study for this exam as it allows me to understand the theory better. Also having a team around me who can help explain things in a different way has helped too, rather than reading from a book all the time.

I also attended an introduction to networking course on the 4th until the 7th February in London. This went through the basic concepts of networking and was very useful for me, again another alternative to reading from a book all the time and I am going back there on the 22nd February to attend a 6 day course which will go into more detail on networking to help me understand more and hands on troubleshooting a network, which will further help me pass the CCNA exam.

Its been a while!

It has been a while since I last posted on here, so I will update you in the next two blogs over what has happened since the end of August.

When I last posted, I was in my three month placement on the Investment Management Systems team, identifying issues that users of the applications are having, recreating the issue and logging the problem with the software supplier. Once it had been fixed by the supplier I would then test it to make sure the issue didn’t occur again.

I have since then finished the placement, and at the beginning of October I went back on to the Network and Infrastructure team. This is the team that I will be spending the remainder of my apprenticeship with. Since I have been on the team I have been getting more involved with what they do. For example in December I was able to go to the London office and get involved with upgrading the existing Wifi network that was in place as the old one wasn’t able to handle to amount of devices that were connecting to it so we upgraded to a new solution and since then we haven’t had any issues.

I am glad to be back on the team as it is an interesting area of IT to be involved in as there are many different routes you can go down in the network field of IT, for example security, voice over IP, wireless and data centre’s, just a number of things you can end up choosing to specialise in!

Friday, 29 August 2014

An update on my apprenticeship!

I have now been with Rathbones just under a year and it is still going well! I have completed my three months on the Network and Infrastructure team and enjoyed it a lot as it gave me an insight into how the different offices at Rathbones are all connected and the different services that are provided to help maintain the network. After spending three months on this team, I had to choose another team to work with for three months and I decided to spend it with the Investment Management Systems delivery team. This team supports the applications RID and Rhymesight so I thought it would be a good opportunity to learn a bit more about the business. I have been on this team for over a month now and have been shown various problems that users have had with the applications and gone through how to deal with these. We try and recreate the issue in a test environment and then log a call with the software suppliers to let them know that there is an issue, they then fix the problem and send us a patch/fix file that we then install and test whether the problem has been fixed in the test area. If it has, the software is then installed to the live environment and the issue is resolved! So I am now looking forward to working on a team for one full year so I can focus fully on that team and specialise what it is that I decide to do.

On the NVQ side of things, I have sent my last piece of evidence off to Joanne at Archbishop Beck and hopefully that should tick off my last unit and I’ll have completed it all. Working on the teams for a longer period of time has really helped me complete the NVQ easier than I thought it would and this is because working on the team for three months gives me more work to do that I can use as evidence for my portfolio to back up the candidate statements I had written so I was working and completing the portfolio at the same time.

Friday, 25 April 2014

Six months into my apprenticeship

I have now completed six months of my apprenticeship at Rathbones and it is going just as well as it had been when I last posted! I have now spent four weeks on each team within the IT department and this included visiting the Bristol office to set up PCs for new users and just last week I went to the London office with my team leader to attend some meetings he had there. This was a good chance to meet the members of the IT department that are based in the London office, who are just as friendly and welcoming as those in Liverpool.

After completing four weeks on each team I had to choose one team to go on to for three months. My preferred team to work on for this length of time was the Network and Infrastructure team. This team ensures that the Rathbones computer and telephone network are always connected and secure. The tasks I have been carrying out so far are setting up new users telephone accounts for them, so that they are able to log in when they are sat at their desk, adding people to different pickup groups so that they can pick up other people’s phone calls, adding diverts to their phones and so on. I have also done some work on the firewall side of the network and hopefully I will be able to do more as the opportunities arise! Soon I will be taking on the job of doing the network checks. These are checks that have to be carried out each morning to ensure that there are no issues on the network, and if there are any issues that they are logged and rectified correctly. The guys on the team have been very helpful in explaining the tasks they carry out and they’ve been getting me involved as much as they can and it is a great team to be working on!

As well choosing this team to work on for three months I have also had to work on my NVQ portfolio, which is coming along nicely, I have been able to tick off much more since I have been on this team for a longer period of time and am on course to complete it for the summer. After that I should be starting to look at IT specific qualifications to study for in the second year of the apprenticeship which I am eager to get started on!

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

The difference between school and work

For the first few weeks, it felt so strange getting up each morning to go to work as I had been used to the routine of getting up and going to school, having lessons, lunch and so on forever! But I was now getting up earlier in order to get the train over to Liverpool and that alone took some getting used to as I lived round the corner from my school and could get there easily! What I also had to get used to was just having one, one hour long break as I was used to having a break and then having lunch, I adjusted to this easily it just felt very different to start off with.
Another thing that I had to get used to was the way in which although I am learning whilst on the job, I am in work to do a job whereas at school I was there to learn about the subjects I was studying and to pass my exams. In work I can get a sense of achievement after completing a piece of work and even more so if I do not need any help with completing that piece of work! Obviously, if I need help I ask for it and everybody in the office are willing to help me out, but being able to do your work without help feels that little bit better!
That leads me to my next point. Being able to complete your workload gives you that satisfaction and you get extra satisfaction at the reality of being paid at the end of each month. It’s okay feeling good when you finally get your head around a topic for an exam in school/university, but you don’t get paid for it! Getting paid at the end of the month for completing jobs makes me feel more independent as I can now pay for things like my own phone contract and car insurance. It makes you manage the money available to you which I’ve also found important too!

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

The first day of my apprenticeship...

The first day of the apprenticeship was in Archbishop Beck College, where we study for the NVQ side of the apprenticeship. We spent the day sorting out our portfolio folders and were given information about how the NVQ works. Basically there are different units within the portfolio, some are compulsory to complete whilst you get to choose some of the units you want to complete. The units relate to what we do in work and we write about what we have done in order to tick off the criteria within the unit in a candidate statement, which then gets assessed by Joanne Welsh from Archbishop Beck.

We then had our first day of work, which I was a bit nervous for but wasn’t too bad on the day because we had already been around the building and met some of the people who work there during the week we had been there for the information day, presentation and the interviews. When we got there we were given information about the share incentive plan and pension scheme that employees of Rathbones can join. We then had an induction meeting with other new employees of Rathbones to introduce us all to each other and the company. After this we were then shown to where we were going to be working which made me nervous as I didn’t know how my colleagues would react to having an apprentice in the department but thankfully they made me feel welcome and helped me settled in well!

Why I chose an apprenticeship

My name is Jonathan Jones and I am an IT apprentice at Rathbones. I am 18 years old from Wallasey on the Wirral and went to school at St Mary’s Catholic College where I studied for my GCSEs and then my A levels. Whilst doing my A levels I decided that I didn’t want to take the university route to follow the career I wanted and the main reason for this was because I know of people who went to university, put a lot of time and effort into their study, came out with a degree and couldn’t get the job that they wanted because they didn’t have the experience. This, along with the idea of being in debt after university made me decide to go down the apprenticeship route as it would be debt free. I would also be earning money whilst gaining experience and I feel that experience is becoming more and more valuable when getting a job; you hear on the news about companies creating more work experience schemes for the unemployed! So an apprenticeship seemed like the perfect route for me.
I had applied for a number of apprenticeships, not all of them in IT. Some of them were in the business section from project management to business and administration and other IT apprenticeships. While I was looking through business and administration apprenticeships advertised on the National Apprenticeship Service website, I found the apprenticeship at Rathbones and although it was under the category of a business and administration apprenticeship it was for the IT department, which grabbed my attention as I had had an interest in IT throughout school and had taken IT for GCSE and A level and had always thought it would be an interesting industry to get involved in as most organisations these days will have an IT department, so in an age when competition for jobs is high it seemed like a great industry to gain experience in.

The reply I received once I had applied was inviting me to an information day at the Port of Liverpool building to get an insight of what it is Rathbones do and to introduce us to the company. We were then told that we would be preparing for a presentation and an interview that would take place later on in the week and then we would hear about how we got on and if we got the apprenticeship the week after. For me personally this was horrible news as I really do not like speaking or presenting information to a group of people, and it made it worse that the group of people would have a say in whether you got a job at the company or not! I didn’t mind the interview as I kind of had an idea of what to expect after being at an interview elsewhere, but presenting was a nightmare for me. We had to imagine we had inherited £100,000 and tell the audience what we would spend it on and why, and what we would invest some of the money in. We had a day where we were taught how to structure a presentation and given tips on what to do and not to do, and another done for interview skills. This was done by Antony Stagg and I found it really useful as we hadn’t really been taught things like that in school and without those skills my presentation probably would have been all over the place! Thankfully those tips paid off and I got a phone call on the Monday after and got told I had a place on the apprenticeship!