I owe a lot to the Microsoft Apprenticeship and Degree Apprenticeship Program. While driving to the Microsoft Signing and Reading campus on Monday morning in September 2017, I felt a sense of excitement and accomplishment. I was a 23-year-old tech-lover, and the moment felt almost like a dream. As of yet my employee has not received the badge, I explained briefly about security that this was my first day.
Tom is signed by Microsoft on the first day of his apprenticeship.
This was not my first time visiting the Microsoft UK headquarters, but it was my first time arriving as an employee – and if I’m honest, I took my little hatchback to the campus lake. I cried and cried because I was too absorbed in it. A little real moment. They say that it is always important to make an immediate impact. I don’t think the tire tracks over the untidy grass would have been the best seal to leave on day one.
I had been working in a sales team at a professional football club since I left school after completing A-Level when I was 18 years old. University has never felt like the right path for me. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve always been hardworking and motivated, but that drive in my life at the time gave me a step towards starting my career as soon as possible, so as to make an impact on a business, to earn. Money, and – as I see it – to be ‘adult’.
Have I ever considered where I would be now if I had taken the alternative route? Most definitely. Do I regret the option returned in 2012? no at all.
Presents itself an opportunity
It often crossed my mind that my aspiration to work for a tech stalwart could pass through me. I was particularly interested in Microsoft, surrounded and empowered by its everyday applications like Office and went through an education system immersed in a Windows ecosystem. And the fact that the main Microsoft UK offices are very much on my doorstep has only intensified my interest. I am extremely fortunate to have a 10-minute commute to the Thames Valley Park campus to read here, but I have traveled countless miles and sat in endless traffic for the occasion.
That’s exactly what I saw one day – an opportunity. Looking at the Microsoft Careers website, I saw advertisements for apprenticeships within the UK. At first, I clicked it more keenly than anything else, but that single click was the moment that completely changed my career.
Five years ago, when I was preparing to leave school, there was a stigma attached to apprenticeship.
The range of industries they were offered was limited, and they were largely seen as an option for those who did not have a ‘grade’ for university or a job as a ‘proper career path’ Was seen Sadly, my sixth form was not particularly useful to those who were not applying to universities – there was a certain sense of isolation and lack of support there.
Apprenticeship path to develop
After five years in 2012, I was surprised by everything I got. The scope of the apprenticeship had clearly developed, and Microsoft offered a range of roles in both the business and technical environments, while having the opportunity to work towards Level 3, 4 or 6. Degree) qualification.
For some time, I wanted to get into marketing, but most of the roles there were aimed at university graduates. I knew I didn’t want to go back as a full-time student, but further digging led me to the discovery that Microsoft offered several marketing positions as part of its apprenticeship scheme – Tick!
I recently turned 23, and the scheme was open to applicants between the ages of 16 and 24 (since it has been made completely open) – Tick! I took a punt …
My application visit
As I read further, it became clear that my application was indeed unsuccessful as I was ‘underqualified’ even though I needed the relevant GCSE grade.
Naturally I understood this and said that I have deposited my four A-Levels in the GCSEs box. Microsoft fixed my administrative error. But despite this, I was happy to offer a video interview. Just thought I’d throw away that little story. We all make mistakes, but we are only human and this is what people get. This is how we improve them and learn from them what really matters.
After completing the video interview, I was thrilled to be offered a place at an assessment center held at the UK headquarters in Reading. I was one of the 10 individuals and the biggest, as I expected, but it didn’t bother me.