Case study

Apprentice data scientist — John Gunner

After completing his GCSEs and A-levels, John decided to apply for a degree apprenticeship with British Airways (BA), where he now works as an apprentice data scientist

Why did you decide to do a degree apprenticeship?

When it came to deciding my next steps after finishing my A-levels, university initially seemed to be the only, obvious route to take.

However, during my gap year, I came across multiple degree apprenticeships while looking for further opportunities. I then made it my mission to go down this route instead of university. I'd be able to gain on-the-job work experience while getting a degree, without having to worry about paying off the debt afterwards.

How did you find and apply for your degree apprenticeship with BA?

I found out about the apprenticeship through researching opportunities online.

How does the apprenticeship work?

All data science degree apprentices at BA receive 20% off-the-job learning, which is paid time dedicated to working on our degree.

For me, this off-the-job learning is done on a Friday, meaning I essentially have a four-day working week with the fifth day purely for studying.

What do you enjoy about your apprenticeship?

I love the variety of projects I've been able to get involved in. I also enjoy the fact that the university learning ties in well with my work - they're not entirely separate from one another.

What's the most challenging part of your apprenticeship?

Being in a new environment is always going to be challenging - but for me, it was an exciting opportunity to meet everyone in my product team and to find out about my colleagues' unique roles within the company. Even though I've only been at BA for a couple of months, I feel like a fully integrated part of the team.

In terms of the apprenticeship itself, I sometimes find it challenging to balance the time I spend on university work outside of paid working hours. This is something I'm aiming to get better at as time goes on and as I figure out what to expect from both work and the data science degree.

What support have you received?

BA has been extremely supportive and accommodating since the start of my apprenticeship in September. I haven't had to worry about a lack of support or feeling like I'm falling behind in my apprenticeship.

What are your plans for after your apprenticeship?

I'd like to keep my options open but I'm just focusing on my current role at the moment.

What advice would you give to others considering a degree apprenticeship?

Anybody who's considering going to university should also think about applying for a degree apprenticeship. On-the-job experience puts you massively ahead of others as you'll have had four years of experience in a real working environment, as well as achieving a degree.

Sell yourself in the interview and be prepared to go outside your comfort zone as this is often when the best opportunities arise.

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