19/09/2013 13:21 BST

Apprentice Of The Week: Sadie Hawkins

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Introducing this week’s apprentice..

Name: Sadie Hawkins

Job Title: Project Manager / Apprentice

Company / employer: IBM

Apprenticeship / training: Advance Apprenticeship for IT Professionals (Complete), Higher Apprenticeship for IT Professionals (Currently working towards)

Twitter (optional): @Sadie_Hawks

1. What's a typical day like for you?

I’m extremely fortunate in the fact that no two days are the same. As a Project Manager at IBM I’m responsible for managing a billing application for a major telecoms client. This work includes planning and execution of changes to the current application within the full life-cycle of the IT system – covering all aspects from hardware to software. My day to day job encompasses a wide range of activities including; planning the project scope, managing resource demand, estimating time/cost until competition, ongoing management of the risks and issues, liaising with the client and not forgetting, leading a team of people.

Furthermore I’m involved with a number of unique opportunities outside of my day-to-day role including my work with schools and communities within IBM and mentoring. I work with about 20-30 schools a year on projects to stimulate interest in IT and science as well as CV writing workshops and the Apprenticeship Attraction programme to help showcase the alternatives to university available to students today.

To demonstrate just how varied my work is at the moment I’ve recently delivered a large scale project, successfully led a corporate audit, and managed a multi-million-pound deal while working in a whole list of different locations with an array of people.

2. What has been the most memorable day of your Apprenticeship so far?

It’s difficult to pinpoint the most memorable day of my Apprenticeship so far. I’ve had so many amazing experiences from successfully delivering a major upgrade on my 20th birthday, organising large scale events and graduating from the Advance Apprenticeship. All in all the one date that comes to mind is when I was selected to meet IBM CEO Ginni Rometty. The day began with a town hall event attended by 500 professionals from across the business, gathered together to listen, reflect and engage with Ginni discussing recent successes, direction and our 2015 plan. Following on I was then fortunate to be invited to an exclusive roundtable alongside other Apprentices and Graduates. During this time we had an opportunity to ask questions, express opinions and share experiences – a truly unique and wonderful day.

3. Why did you decide to become an apprentice?

During sixth form at Park House School (Newbury) I was fortunate to be part of the ‘IBM Out-Reach Scheme’ a programme designed to provide students with a unique insight into the IT industry through events, workshops and work experience. These opportunities sparked my passion for IBM and when I found out about the Apprenticeship I knew it was the perfect challenge and opportunity to kick start my career.

4. What are the best things about being an apprentice?

Being an apprentice offers so many benefits. In fact I can’t think of anything I don’t like about being an apprentice. Firstly, the obvious one, an Apprenticeship offers you an opportunity to learn whilst you earn, but it’s not all about the money! An Apprenticeship provides a unique career pathway, deviating away from the educational normality of obtaining a degree at university and building a career in your mid 20s. Instead I’ve been able to go straight from Sixth Form into a business making an impact from day one.

5. What are the best things about working in the industry you work in?

There are many great reasons why I love working in the IT industry. Firstly the forever changing market, particularly in the telecommunication sector with my current client at IBM. Everyday new ideas and exciting technologies are being created as a result of the market and economic situations… there’s always something interesting to be working on. In addition; I love the culture and community of IT and IBM, the ability to work alongside incredible individuals who share the same passion and enthusiasm for technology.

6. What's the most surprising thing you've learnt during your Apprenticeship?

The most surprising thing I’ve learn during my Apprenticeship is just how huge IBM is. Working for such a large organisation I’ve been involved with a wide range of opportunities from day one. I have the ability to move between roles, into different business lines and sectors working with incredibly talented people with a whole wealth of knowledge and experience.

7. What would you say to someone thinking about applying for an Apprenticeship?

Go for it! Who doesn’t want the opportunity to continue learning, developing skills and seizing opportunities whilst working in a real life environment making an impact, being constantly challenged and earning at the same time?

8. What do you think are the biggest myths about Apprenticeships?

Historically Apprenticeships have been geared towards manual labour or factory work. Times have changed; we don’t all work on construction sites, building things and wiring up fuse boxes. Nowadays Apprenticeships can be found in every industry, offering a whole range of opportunities and career pathways.

9. What do you expect to be doing in ten years’ time?

My expectations and ambitions for the future are huge… but who really knows where or what I’ll be doing in ten years’ time? The last two years have been a complete whirlwind, varying in opportunities and learning experiences. If the next ten years feature much of the same I’ll be extremely happy.

10. Are you happy you chose an Apprenticeship instead of considering university?

Absolutely, 100%. Joining the IBM Apprenticeship programme is the greatest decision I’ve ever made, a truly life changing experience. Reflecting back over the last two years and comparing myself amongst friends at university it’s clear I’ve made the right choice. Joining the Apprenticeship has allowed me to kick start my career with a guaranteed job at the end of the three years.

11. What advice would you give someone leaving school or college now?

Before making a final decision consider all your options. In my personal opinion schools / colleges apply far too much pressure on students to follow the university route. Nowadays you don’t need a degree in order to achieve, there are so many other amazing opportunities away from what is considered to be the ‘norm’. All this can be summarized into four words; Dare to be different.

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