After struggling to find a relevant job due to her lack of experience Eleni decided that an apprenticeship was her best option
Why did you decide to do an apprenticeship?
By doing an apprenticeship I can gain on-the-job experience as I learn, which will give me an advantage when looking for employment in the future.
Additionally, an apprenticeship provides you with an income. At this stage in my life, I did not have the luxury of being able to dedicate all my time to a second degree and not have a full-time job. This way I can earn money while I am learning.
How did you find and apply for your apprenticeship?
I found the apprenticeship on Indeed, which lead me to Jisc's career page where I created an account and applied for the apprenticeship.
How does the apprenticeship work?
My data science apprenticeship lasts for four years. It is an integrated degree apprenticeship (Level 6 degree). We have four intensive contact weeks, spaced out throughout the year, where we spend the week focusing on the various course modules. Originally, we would travel to London for those weeks but during the pandemic, they are online.
We also get one day a week to focus on coursework and the various projects that we are given for each module. Some of the modules require us to create projects for our portfolio in order to pass and some require exams.
In addition, we need to be applying what we learn during the course in our day jobs so that we can gain better understanding and experience.
What do you enjoy about your apprenticeship?
I love that my apprenticeship only focuses on skills and knowledge that I am going to need in the work environment, so it is very relevant. I also like being able to see real life examples and applications of what I'm studying and explore the business problems that it can solve.
What is the most challenging part of your apprenticeship?
As I am a mother of four, the most challenging part of my apprenticeship is time-management. Completing all the assignments and studying, together with tackling work responsibilities and family life, can be really hard to balance. Especially during the pandemic when I also had to take on home schooling. Luckily my family has been really supportive so this has helped a lot.
What are your plans after your apprenticeship?
After my apprenticeship, I am planning on finding a full-time job as a data scientist and progressing as much as possible in my field. It is my passion and I love staying on top of the latest developments.
My apprenticeship has armed me with a great set of skills and I am looking forward to exploring different ways these can be applied in the business world.
What advice would you give others who are planning on doing an apprenticeship?
It is hard work so pick a topic you love, to keep you motivated.
Also, take advantage of the opportunity and learn as much as you can, now that you have the freedom to do so. Once in a full-time job there will always be projects to prioritise and there will be less time for skill development.
What more can be done to increase female representation in technology?
I feel this should start at an early age within the family and school environment. When I was choosing physics as my initial degree, my family or teachers never raised my gender as a hindrance. I only noticed when I was in university and there weren’t as many women in my classes. I know that is not the case for a lot of young girls and they may get discouraged from pursuing jobs that aren’t typically associated with women.
I also think that having positive role models would help, so if the women already working in technology get out there and talk about all the amazing things they do that would boost interest in the younger generation.