Verity’s journey on the Software Engineering Apprenticeship
‘I’m really passionate about diversity, inclusion and women in technology.’
Hi, my name is Verity Marsterson. I’ve just completed my Software Engineering Apprenticeship and I’m an Android Developer in the My Sky App team in Leeds.
I work with a team to create innovative and exciting products. Within the My Sky App team, this means that I am pairing, so working with another employee, to write code and understand how that code works – so that we can then improve, create and innovate within the My Sky App.
I’m a little bit different from traditional apprentices in that I got a degree first, so I went to university and did my degree in French and Politics. I found that I really enjoyed tech policy and a lot of the avenues around technology, but I didn’t have that technical know-how.
I do think that there are certain stigmas around apprenticeships, especially post-degree course. However, I knew that I was going into a field that was completely different from my degree. I gained a lot of experiences from university, such as soft-skills, analysis, policy, and languages that I wanted to apply in a technical role. I think when I explain to people that I was gaining a qualification and working in an industry, competitively with experts in the field, it became easier to justify why an apprenticeship was the correct path for me.
Applying to Sky and knowing that I’d have that support, and knowing that I would have the information to develop myself and to be able to become a strong developer was really attractive to me. I do believe that since joining Sky, I’ve been given support and the tools to be able to understand more of how the technical aspects of building code, delivering code and working on how software development works.
Throughout my time at Sky, I’ve got support from individuals within Sky, within my team, within the organization. Sky is a really close-knit community, especially the fact that you can reach out to a number of different employees and say “I’m an apprentice, I’m starting the beginning of my journey, I’m learning.” There is this attitude of really wanting to support and help you. So there’s been a number of occasions where, for example; in my first project, I worked on authentication, and the people within my team recommended people beyond my team that I could reach out to and ask “Can I have a coffee?”, “Can I have some support?”, “Can we have a conversation around this?”. At no point did anybody ever reject any of my questions. They were really happy, because they understand what it’s like to be at the beginning of a journey.
I think the thing I love most about my job is the fact that I’m working on really exciting products, and I’m working with a really supportive and expert team. When it comes to Android development, it’s really exciting when I’ve worked with somebody to write a bit of code, or to work on a certain feature, that will then be pushed to the app. For example; if I’ve been working on some accessibility bug fixes, it’s such an amazing feeling when you can then go to the My Sky App and you can see “That’s the work that I did, I’ve put that in!”.
One of the main reasons I wanted to get into the tech industry is because I’m really passionate about diversity, inclusion and women in technology. I’ve been involved with the Diversity, Inclusion, Women in Tech and Tech for Everyone groups – where I’ve had some really exciting fantastic opportunities. I got involved in lots of those meetings and worked with some really fantastic inspiring people, who come together. I think that energy of having a meeting where everybody is really excited to be working on a project and working in a similar direction has meant that we’ve organized a number of different events around women in technology, diversity and inclusion. I interviewed Clarke Carlisle as part of men’s mental health and awareness. I’ve also organized an event on domestic abuse and violence, which has been an absolutely fantastic opportunity for me to learn more about events management, more about presentation, more about communication within an internal team, and that’s really supported me along my journey.
I would definitely recommend the apprenticeship programme, especially for people who are nervous about joining a career in technology not having had that much experience beforehand. I’ll be the first person to stand up and say that I didn’t know a lot about Software Engineering before I started this program and this has been a really great opportunity for me to learn about Software Engineering and to learn about the different positions available within Software Engineering.
So it’s not necessarily just technical positions, but understanding the whole community and understanding how Sky works that has been a fantastic opportunity. At the same time as being paid, getting your qualifications and being surrounded by experts in the field – what amazing experience!