Sarah Beckett - IT Apprentice at Cimlogic
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Sarah joined Cimlogic as a Level 3 IT apprentice in October 2018 and made a huge impact on a small department. Fast forward to 2021, Sarah has recently completed a Level 4 apprenticeship and is now a fully-fledged member of the IT team!
We caught up with Sarah to hear about her experience as a Baltic apprentice and how she has developed over the past two years:
I originally gave university a chance, but I didn’t enjoy it. When choosing a degree, it was either between Philosophy and IT as I studied both at A-Level. I eventually went with Philosophy but quickly realised university wasn’t right for me. I started looking at apprenticeships as I liked the idea of learning whilst getting hands-on as opposed to a more traditional route like university. I actually applied for a position with Baltic that was quite a distance from where I lived, but the recruitment team shared the Cimlogic position with me – it was a 10 minute walk from my house!
When I first started, I was mainly shadowing my manager Chris to start learning the ropes. At the time I started, the company had just introduced a new system called Connectwise that I took the lead on. I’m now first and second line support for this system!
As time went on and my confidence grew, I started picking up more of my own work and now I’m trusted with leading the IT side of things around our company achieving the ISO27001 accreditation.
I’ve noticed a huge development in my skill level. When I started at Cimlogic, I had a bit of background knowledge in IT but not a huge amount, definitely not in the industry we work in. I’ve noticed an improvement in my skillset as I work independently now and don’t fall back on Chris as much as I used to. Now, I don’t need as much reassurance that what I’m doing is right.
The Level 3 apprenticeship was a more structured course which was good as I was just starting out in the industry. With the Level 4 programme, I was able to personalise this to the systems we used at Cimlogic and tailor the course to the work I was carrying out.
On a personal level, I was really shy when I first started my apprenticeship, and I definitely don’t think that’s the case now. Both apprenticeships have provided me with another level of confidence and all in all, I’ve really enjoyed them.
My and my manager Chris spend a lot of time one on one. Having this close relationship has helped me get to where I am today. He allows me to work independently but he is always there if I need any help or support. Chris has helped me grow in confidence by allowing me to get hands on from day one. His approach was “if you get stuck, have another go and if you still can’t do it - just ask me for help.”
As I progressed through the apprenticeship, he started giving me more responsibility and freedom to do tasks on my own. It’s been really enjoyable working here and I don’t think I was expecting my apprenticeship to be this successful!
The support from Baltic has been brilliant, I had reviews with my Learning Mentor every 6 weeks and they were always willing to help if I had any questions. On these reviews we caught up and discussed what I’d been working on, the structure is of the Baltic Apprenticeship is great.
When I completed my Level 3 apprenticeship and was progressing onto a Level 4, James Dentith, an Employer Engagement Manager at Baltic came and met with us to discuss the programme in more detail and answered any questions we had in person, which was brilliant.
I loved the SMART Classroom, I felt that I learned more and gained a better understanding of the modules through the 5 day training blocks.
I preferred the online environment over face-to-face learning, I found it easier to collaborate and share ideas, I think people were more confident through this platform too, they were more likely to interact and get involved.
As it’s a smaller group on the SMART Classroom, the trainer can engage with everyone on the session a lot easier. I really enjoyed this learning environment, it's hands on but you always have the support of the trainer if you need it.
Personally, the growth in my confidence as that’s affected me both inside and outside of work. I don’t think I can express enough how shy I was when I first started at Cimlogic!
Professionally, I’d probably say being able to do a lot of work independently and not having to rely on Chris as much for help and support. I have been working independently on the ISO27000 accreditation which isn’t a small task. We haven’t finished working towards that just yet, but when we get there, that will have been my greatest achievement.
Definitely! First of all, IT is a great industry to work in as every day is different, you’re never going to get bored. With an apprenticeship, you’re working in the industry every day, gaining experience and building new skills, you don’t always get that chance at university. Even with a degree, when you join a new company you’re still going to have to learn the way that particular organisation operates.
For employers too, hiring people with years of experience or a degree, they’re still going to have to learn your way of doing things and their experience may not align with the way your team works.
Although I’ve completed both of my apprenticeships, I’m actually still expanding my knowledge with Baltic on the Dive into Data Bootcamp!
If you'd like to learn more about Baltic Apprenticeships' IT programmes, you can search for current vacancies or browse our programme outlines here:
To read more about Cimlogic’s approach to IT apprenticeships, check out our interview with Sarah’s manager, Chris.