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Learn why Winnifred decided join Barclays at 16

At 16, I left school and embarked on a new journey. While my friends were still on holiday, I was getting ready to start work - and I couldn't be more excited. I'd considered A-levels, and I knew I wanted to pursue maths in some capacity, but I didn't know how. So, I started to think differently about my future. That's when I heard about an apprenticeship career fair taking place at the Barclays Technology centre in Radbroke. I hadn't considered an apprenticeship, but thought: what's the harm in learning more? And I'm so glad I did. 

The Barclays apprenticeship programme ticked all the right boxes, and I was thrilled to receive a place. I was even offered the chance to study for a degree in my second year. This meant I began university a whole year before my peers. So, I was really thrilled to realise that on an apprenticeship, I could still get a lot of the benefits you get from full-time education. 

Getting stuck in from day one

My interest in tech and maths meant I was placed in the Technology team, in a role focusing on Cryptography, a career path I'd never even heard of. But, from the beginning, I knew it was a perfect fit. It was my responsibility to manage the requests that came into my team, where we'd need to write new pieces of code to solve an issue. I'd review their requirements and help them through the process of getting the cryptography support they needed. Before I knew it, I was advising colleagues right across the business.

Of course, there's always more to learn. Cryptography is complex, so every day poses new challenges and opportunities for me to test my abilities and develop my skills. And I've been supported continuously throughout my journey. I wasn't only surrounded by my cohort of apprentices and incredibly supportive team; I had my mentor to guide me too - so I always had someone to bounce ideas off and ask for help when needed.

Turning the tables and helping others

I received so much support throughout my apprenticeship. I wanted to repay the favour, so I became an apprentice buddy. In this role, I coached my fellow apprentices through - well, everything. We spoke about their ambitions, their concerns and everything in between - from where to get the best cup of coffee to how to make the most of the apprenticeship programme. Before long, I was partnered with seven apprentices and I was loving every second.

It was a wonderful experience to support others and see them develop both professionally and personally. It's astonishing that Barclays has been running the apprenticeship programme for 10 years. The programme has changed a lot since I started five years ago, but one thing has remained the same - apprentices are supported whole heartedly from their very first day. For me, it's inspiring to see so many apprentices continuing with their Barclays career years later, and I'm thankful to play my part in supporting a handful of their careers.

Growing up at Barclays

I was 16 years old when I joined Barclays, but I wasn't treated any differently to my colleagues. I've grown up alongside my team and I hit so many milestones with them by my side. They've really helped me become the person I am today, even nominating me for the Early Talent of the Year award in 2016 - and of course, they all celebrated alongside me when I won.

To this day, I'm grateful that I attended that career fair and discovered a programme with a business that's not only constantly evolving, but that's committed to supporting apprentices throughout their careers. Three years after completing the apprenticeship, I can now say that I proudly hold a first-class degree and I have five years' experience behind me - all at the age of 21. I'm so proud to be part of the history of the Barclays apprenticeship programme, and I'm so glad I listened to my gut and explored opportunities beyond college.