Emma Hancock

Emma is an Apprentice Software Engineer and is working towards a Digital & Technology Solutions Degree Apprenticeship with the Science & Technology Facilities Council (STFC). She started her Apprenticeship in June 2017 after doing A Levels at St. Josephs Catholic College in Swindon.

Why did you choose to do an Apprenticeship?

So I could gain professional experience whilst I trained.

How did you find out about your Apprenticeship?

Through the QA Apprenticeships website.

What does your job involve?

As part of my Apprenticeship at STFC, I rotate through different departments in the organisation every six months. Throughout these rotations my roles and responsibilities will vary slightly, meaning that I will have to adapt to new environments and roles as I move and that I work with a wide range of different technologies. Some of my jobs range from updating websites, to helping to write the code for Large Pixel Detector Systems.

One of the larger and more significant projects that I have been involved in at STFC was being in charge of re-designing the login page for the CEDA (Centre for Environmental Data Analysis) website. 

What’s the coolest thing about your job?

That the work we do contributes to major scientific advancements that take place on and off our site.

I am very proud of a group project I took part in to create a virtual reality environment that replicated the data centre on site at STFC. I had never used any of the technologies needed for this before and hadn’t ever worn a virtual reality headset before this, so this project was a great learning experience for me. We demonstrated this project at the STFC open events, to show visitors what they could do if they got an Apprenticeship at STFC. We had great feedback from this at our open evenings and it gave me a great sense of achievement to see people experience something I had helped to make. Some of the visitors who tried this at our open evening then went on to apply for jobs at STFC and now work with me.  

What have you gained from your Apprenticeship?

From a technical point of view I believe I have learnt the most in the fundamental computer programming languages like using Python, Java and C#. I have learnt the most in these languages because I have completed more work using these and my knowledge will only grow as I continue with my Apprenticeship.

I also believe that I have grown personally since I have started at STFC. I have become more confident in myself and volunteered to do student talks for our public engagements team, as well as group talks to my co-workers. I would not have volunteered to speak publicly before I started my Apprenticeship. I think I have gained this confidence because I have a better understanding for software engineering (the topic of my talks) as well as getting better at performing under pressure.

Due to my rotations through departments I believe I have become more flexible to adapt to new technologies and a changes in my role. My problem solving skills have also excelled, I have found new ways to look at problems and my solutions to these are more creative, thinking from the users perspective to make sure that all work is done to the right standards. 

What do you plan to do next?

I hope to complete my degree with a first and then get a position working full time for STFC. I would love to progress through the company after this.

How will your Apprenticeship help you achieve this?

My Apprenticeship will teach me the skills I need to continue working at STFC once my Apprenticeship has finished, as well as the leadership skills needed for my future career.

What advice would you give a young person who might be thinking about an Apprenticeship?

I would always recommend people do an Apprenticeship if they get the opportunity. In the past 12 months I have learnt so much in both technically and personally. I am able to learn a topic and then directly apply it to what I am doing, this practical understanding just confirms if I understand the topics that I am learning.

If there is ever something that I am uncertain on at work, I am surrounded by professionals who are always happy to help me. I never feel like I am inconveniencing anyone because I am struggling with something, so there is always someone that can help and answer my questions. 

If you want to gain knowledge and practical experience in the career that you want to go into than an Apprenticeship is perfect for you! You can finish your course with the same level qualifications as people who have gone to university, but you have gained so much more experiencing by working as you complete your course. 

What’s your top tip?

Don’t be afraid to ask questions, no one expects you to know everything as soon as you start. 

How do you feel about becoming an Apprenticeship Ambassador?

I am extremely proud to be an Apprenticeship Ambassador! I think Apprenticeships are an amazing way to start of your career and I can’t wait to help young people find out more about them.