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Karina Deptula is on the Higher Apprenticeship pathway, working as a Project Management Office Analyst and supporting the Unsecured Borrowing team. She explains all there is to take in as a tech apprentice. “There is so much to learn on the job, and the same at uni. “This term, we’re studying project management as part of my course, and it’s fascinating to see the theory and practice in parallel. But I’m also studying pure computer science, which broadens my understanding for future projects and roles.”
“When I look back at all the progress I’ve made in the last two years, I’m really proud. I know a million things more than when I started.”
I’ve had so many experiences in such diverse areas. One project ends, another begins, and the demands are always so different
Fizah Malik is a third-year Higher Apprentice in the Voice Infrastructure team. And she heartily agrees with Karina.
“I arrived just as my team were making a major transition to the Cloud. My manager told me how lucky I was to join at a critical time of change. So I’ve had lots of experience working on the latest Cloud technologies and my manager has really encouraged me to gain the relevant accreditations. This summer, when my normal courses were on break, I took the chance to study for AWS certification as a Cloud practitioner. That’s a big opportunity all by itself,” she explains.
Kate Mills is in her second-year of a Foundation Apprenticeship, working in Major Incident Management at the Radbroke Command Centre. Kate has a unique perspective on the learning opportunities on offer to all.
“I am autistic with Asperger’s Syndrome, have ADHD and sensory processing disorder. It means that I have to learn things and approach tasks in a different way sometimes. But it also makes me more creative in how I do things.”
Because of the lack of support Kate had during her education, she says she was low on confidence when she first applied to Barclays. But that has all changed. “I applied for the Foundation Apprenticeship. Since joining, I’ve been offered the chance to study further for a degree. But I may decide to progress in a different way. There are countless pathways. And loads of opportunities for technical training. Barclays are paying for me to do my ITIL Certificate next year too.”
Matt Lewis completed his degree apprenticeship last year. He’s now a Senior Engineer in iOS development for the Barclays Banking App. But that doesn’t mean that the learning is over.
“As an engineering team for the App, we have to stay on top of the tech. iOS is still relatively new tech. It’s written in Swift, which is a super young language. And as a platform, it’s reinventing itself every four-to-five years. So there’s a constant cycle of learning,” says Matt.
That’s mirrored across Barclays as a whole. “I’ve been offered so much help and guidance. And I’ve been mentoring people for a while now too, even when I was still an apprentice. Now I’m a line manager, and my team’s development is my responsibility.”
It's that kind of broad-ranging support for personal development that shines through every apprentice experience.
“It’s great to have a line manager who’s focussed on my personal growth. It’s great to have someone to boost my confidence and work with me to find interesting opportunities. But the whole team mentors me in a way. They are so open to me learning new things. They invite me to join different types of calls and projects, so I get rounded experience. And I spend days sitting with related teams in the Command Centre like Innovation and Social Media to understand the parts they play.” says Kate.
The sheer amount of people you can meet and learn from. It’s such an amazing experience
Fizah agrees: “Barclays really encourage an ‘always-learning’ tech community. And the support is amazing. Line Manager, Talent Coach, Skills Coach, Team Buddy and Apprentice Buddy. They are focused on your wellbeing, as well as your development.“
For Matt, it’s the freedom and trust to try stuff that makes a big difference. “My team is positive and open about me growing my skills. The confidence they have in me to go off and make a prototype is really inspiring. And it’s fun to always be learning new things.”
For Kate, having a mentor like Ellie Campion, to aspire to, has been critical. “She’s literally the first person I met at Barclays. She’s a similar age to me and is just amazing at her job. That’s why she keeps getting promoted. The way she takes hold of calls and gets to the crux of an issue quickly is so impressive. She loves what she does, and it really comes across. It’s great for me to see her thrive as a woman in tech.”
Karina shares Kate’s opinion. She describes her mentor Ewa Mojzyk in glowing terms: “She’s a total bad-ass and great at her role. She has got me involved in so many different projects and is always encouraging me to take more responsibility.”
However, the people you learn from aren’t just on your team. In fact, Matt says the thing that has surprised him most about working at Barclays is the complexity and range of interactions between people. “I’ve built so many positive relationships with testers, accessibility consultants, solution architects. We work as a team, across departments, to prototype components and discover new ways to do things. We are very creative in what we do. And our products make it all the way to the App Store because they have been built in a robust way. It’s such a rewarding experience.”
Kate goes even further. “It’s definitely the people who make the difference. I love all of the other apprentices; they are so helpful. And I love working on projects with like-minded people. Everyone’s so intelligent. If something new comes out in tech. Everyone will know about it and talk about it. So I learn more every day.“
“But most of all, there’s such a sense of collaboration and community. We all share the same values. Everyone here wants to thrive. Everyone wants to leave things better than they found them.”
Working alongside the people at Barclays has opened up my creativity and made me a better person.
It's a culture that promotes almost limitless opportunities for tech apprentices. Whether they stay with their current teams or explore different disciplines, skills and roles.
As Karina explains, “Nothing remains the same for too long at Barclays. If you enjoy what you are doing, great, there are loads more opportunities in that direction. If you don’t, then something new and different is round the corner. Barclays is so big and there are so many possibilities, especially in tech.”
Matt wants to keep expanding his understanding and influence as an engineer. “I’ve mastered building out components in iOS. So I’d like to learn about building for different platforms. That will set me up to have larger-scale engineering conversations. To find out about more about DevOps methodologies and influence the way all of our developers work to create sustainable engineering solutions.”
Fizah would love to see the world. “I would like to stay with GTSM because there’s so much variety and opportunity. Maybe I could even relocate to one of the other locations, like New York.”
As you’d expect for someone in their first year, Kate’s keeping her options very open. “I like where I am in the Command Centre. I like Innovation. But I’m also fascinated by the work of the Chief Security Office. There’s so much more I can do within Barclays. I’m not too sure yet. First, I want to raise my profile. And I would definitely like to visit one of the other command centres.”
Whichever path they choose, you’d be foolish to bet against any of our apprentices making a huge impact on tech at Barclays, right now and in the future.
As Matt puts it, the apprenticeship is a perfect way to begin. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do before I joined, but I’ve been able to find my niche and jumpstart my career.”
And as Kate says, “You never feel trapped here. I know I can move elsewhere. There’s so much more you can do within the bank.”
People want you to grow and allow you to move wherever works for you.