I’m 27, from Stoke On Trent and I work as Data Services Apprentice for Virgin Media. I chose to become a telecoms apprentice because it’s an ever changing industry with lots of opportunities to learn and develop new skills. Technology has always been a big part of my life; in my spare time I enjoy building and modifying PCs and I like to keep up with developments in the world of technology. I went to university and got my degree but soon after graduation I learnt that it takes a lot more than academic knowledge of a subject to get a job in the industry; relevant skills and experience are among the best attributes to have and with my apprenticeship I’m able to build both while I’m working. As with everyone I suppose, it’s hard to describe an average day as one of the great things about this job is variety but it would go something like this-
I work in the Data services department of Virgin Media and I’m based primarily in our lab in Nottingham with the Central team. As a department we install and maintain networks and networking equipment for business customers. Most mornings I arrive at the lab for work and meet with my mentor, who I work closely with most days. I will discuss the days work with him and also catch up on any admin I need to do.
I sometimes shadow my mentor working on a large project, this is a great way of getting some experience of working on some of the larger more advanced technologies we work with as my mentor is a Consultant Engineer which means he works on the high level stuff and big projects such as voice over IP (VoIP), Cisco ASA firewalls and data centers. Alternatively, when I’m not shadowing my mentor I’m working on an install on my own on what we call ‘standard products’, as I develop as an engineer I gradually get a few more of these and a broader range of equipment to install. I started off with a few ADSL IPVPN installs which are the most common of our installs, gradually I have worked through a variety of our standard products and most recently have been working on some Palo Alto firewall installs.
If I’m not shadowing another engineer or completing some installs of my own then I’m working on some of my self study, as an apprentice I am working towards my HNC Diploma in Computing and Systems Development as well as the first of my Cisco qualifications, CCNA. I use any spare time between installs as well to work towards this as there’s plenty to keep me busy.
The main thing I’ve found I had to work on in this role is getting used to being out of your comfort zone, the industry is very fast paced and is constantly changing so you need to have the confidence in your own skills to be able to keep calm and fix the problem or install the new piece of kit.