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Our apprenticeship journeys are as unique as the people who make them. And all our apprentices find different personal pathways to Barclays. Fizah Malik is a third-year Higher Apprentice in the Voice Infrastructure team. For Fizah, the choice was clear. “Apprenticeships always attracted me. I am not the person to sit in a lecture theatre. It’s a real win-win. I get qualifications plus 4 years’ solid work experience in a well-known company.”
Fizah joined Barclays at 18, having completed a BTech Extended Diploma in IT and Software Development. But that kind of technical background isn’t a requirement. Kate Mills was at college studying for an HND in Business Management when she started looking at apprenticeship opportunities.
Kate is in her second-year of a Foundation Apprenticeship, working in Major Incident Management at the Radbroke Command Centre. “I was a high achiever at school, but I’m neurodivergent. I am autistic with Asperger’s Syndrome, have ADHD and sensory processing disorder. So when I started A-levels, I realised very quickly that it wasn’t for me. After my HND, I was interested in tech opportunities, but hadn’t had the chance to gain much experience in that area. A tech apprenticeship seemed perfect.”
For Matt Lewis, now a Senior Engineer in iOS development for the Barclays Banking App, narrowly missing out on his first-choice university ended up being a lucky break. “I had a year to evaluate my choices, and I concluded that a full-time degree wasn’t the best idea. So I started looking into degree apprenticeships.” It’s fair to say that Matt made the right choice. He’s completed his degree, he has 5 years’ commercial experience, he’s already a line manager and he’s one of Barclays’ leading lights in iOS development.
Karina Deptula is on the Higher Apprenticeship pathway, working as a Project Management Office Analyst and supporting the Unsecured Borrowing team. An apprenticeship answered the questions she was asking herself about the future. “I was in my final year of Sixth form. I wasn’t like my friends, who all seemed to know what they wanted to do. I attended a general talk on apprenticeships and looked into the offering in the local area. Barclays had an open evening in Northampton. The more I looked into it, the more I liked what I saw. Especially the fact that, with an apprenticeship, I could get a degree while building my career and gaining hands-on experience.”
Despite their different backgrounds and motivations, there’s general agreement on what attracted them to tech.
“I did a trip to Finland with my college. We met some software companies, and it was so interesting and fast-moving,” says Kate.
The tech field moves so fast and is so wide-ranging. It’s always evolving. There are always new things to learn and do
There’s a similar togetherness on the application process. “I found the Barclays process much more engaging and involving than the other companies I applied to. I was able to find people with a similar mindset and make friends right away,“ says Matt.
“The interview process was really good. All the tasks and events were interesting. But the main attraction was the culture and values. I didn’t fit in at other companies. But Barclays is such an inclusive place. Plus there are so many opportunities and the pay is really good too. It just seemed so exciting,” adds Kate
For Fizah, it was the apprenticeship scheme itself that stood out: “There was so much variety at Barclays, with four different pathways to choose from, and lots of ways to specialise.”
Whatever the similarities, no two apprenticeship journeys are the same. All our tech apprentices study at a highly regarded local university, attending lectures for a half-day each week. But their day jobs show the sheer scale and diversity of the tech landscape at Barclays.
Kate works in the Command Centre, managing major incidents on systems that millions of people rely on every day. When a problem is flagged, her team assess the situation, gather the different teams needed to fix the problem, set deadlines and keep everyone informed.
In Major Incidents, anything can happen. It’s exciting. You never get bored. You’re in the thick of the action and you can’t stop dealing with an issue until it’s fixed
Matt did his apprenticeship in the Barclays App team as an iOS engineer, ensuring that our banking app works brilliantly on Apple devices. “I’ve had the opportunity to develop a deep understanding of iOS development and how to deliver the experiences that users expect on an iPhone or iPad. Now I’m part of the project team that’s building a library of reusable digital components for all developers to work with going forward.”
Fizah’s role supports Contact Centre teams with any technical issues or planned changes to their systems. “It’s our job to keep the Contact Centre systems up and running. And to work with the development teams to help put major upgrades into production. That can mean solving a software issue, tackling headset problems or a major implementation project like our next generation Voice ID roll-out.”
Meanwhile, Karina has found her niche in the financial analysis and management of all this high-profile tech transformation. “I’m a super-organised person. And right away the financial side of things appealed. A lot of my role is forecasting, budgeting and governance. We analyse the business case for investment in change projects. We define the costs and benefits and that goes to senior teams for approval. Then we ensure that approved tech projects stay on track.”
It's also clear that apprentices have the chance to make a difference, right from the start.
Fizah is a real advocate for apprenticeships and for the opportunities at Barclays generally. She regularly tells her career story at student networking events and virtual careers fairs. “It’s nice to share my passion and inspire people”, she explains.
Meanwhile Matt was the iOS developer for a partner finance project with Amazon. When someone decides to take out financing for a purchase on Amazon, they are sent to the Barclays App to make the loan application and back to Amazon to complete the purchase. It was Matt’s job to make that process on Apple devices slick, seamless and clear for the customer. The project involved a lot of new technology, working closely with a large team at Amazon, and across Barclays. The prototype Matt developed as an apprentice was a success and is still being used today.
You get the biggest buzz the first time you see customer traffic coming in and realise that thousands of people are using something that you built
Kate has done lots of work to increase understanding around neurodiversity. “I’ve held panel events and written blog posts on neurodiversity, talking about how you can make adjustments in the workplace to help neurodiverse people thrive. Breaking the stigmas. Being open and inclusive. I talk about the importance of self-care. And make sure people know that there is support for them to get a private diagnosis. The awareness we’ve raised means that we now have a quiet room in the Command Centre at Radbroke. Which is a great facility for everyone when things get hectic.”
Karina came up with a solution to an accounting error that unlocked £80,000 of her team’s budget. And she’s worked with the REACH network to organise support and fundraising for two different support dog charities. “Even my own spaniel Frankie is getting in on the act. He’s going to be a support dog helping children with their reading skills.”
Overall, the apprentices agree that Barclays offers them huge opportunities to grow.
I never wanted to do anything that was normal. I wanted to break barriers. Barclays supports me all the way
“Being a tech apprentice at Barclays is hard work. But you get out what you put in. So you have to give it your all,” says Karina.
“Barclays touches upon all areas of technology. There’s a lot to learn but such breadth of opportunity. And everyone is very supportive,” adds Matt.
Fizah agrees: “It’s a well-known, well-established company. A global bank with opportunities to relocate to offices all over the world.”
Karina sums up the whole apprentice experience up brilliantly: “University wasn’t right for me. But Barclays is just what I needed. There is so much change, so many opportunities, and so many places to go at Barclays. You will never get bored here.”