By Shriyansh Sapkota

Role: Software Engineer Degree Apprentice, BT Group

If my life were to be reflected by a song it would be: “It’s Plenty” by Burna boy.

I’m sharing my apprenticeship journey as I want to inspire any student who is unsure if the ‘normal’ pathway of university is for them. I’m a current apprentice at the BT Group, not for long though because I’ve just finished the degree study elements of my course. It’s a very bittersweet feeling knowing my hard work has paid off but I’m about to leave my apprenticeship ‘cushion’ behind and transition into a full-time role.

I always knew I wanted to go into software engineering and thought university would be the best pathway. It wasn’t until a conversation with my economics teacher that I had heard of apprenticeships. Unfortunately, my sixth form didn’t really support them and I was left alone with the daunting tasks of research and applications. I instantly became obsessed with the idea of an apprenticeship – it almost sounded too good to be true: “A free degree and I get paid to work!” There was no way I was passing up that opportunity. I was also very intrigued by the idea of learning by applying theory practically at work. I loved programming and already knew that’s exactly how I learned best – by doing it. Luckily, I had help from some amazing and selfless individuals along the way – especially Pathway CTM, who would invite me to open days and help me with the full application process.

“An apprenticeship is really fun”

An apprenticeship is really fun, and it is the best thing I’ve ever done. However, I too have those days or sometimes weeks where it just feels like the walls are caving in (such as being thrown in straight at the deep end 😂). But I kept a mantra in my head – “No good thing comes without struggle.” It’s difficult, especially when you have to manage your work projects, university projects and personal life, but I promise it’s the most rewarding thing. 

Without this experience I wouldn’t have learned the most important thing about myself: my belief to show up in every situation as my authentic self. What I mean is that it’s normal to care about others’ opinions and want to impress those around you but in reality, everyone is just thinking about themselves and how they are perceived. 

I learned to be kinder to myself and be who I am instead of trying to impress people. I have my own unique perspective in life, and by feeling confident and sharing that with the world, I feel a great sense of joy because I’m not pretending or feeling like I’m wearing a mask. When things get hard, I tell people things are hard and share my struggles instead of trying to act like I got it all together. This is much less draining and I have more time to think about what I want to do rather than having “what do people think about me” on my mind.

“It’s extremely important to manage your time”

A little more insight into myself – I wasn’t always an organised individual and time management was a myth to me! But over time, I learned to adapt – I guess that’s what growing up is all about! My mum had to wake me up for school for as long as I can remember, and when I started my apprenticeship, it felt like I flipped a switch which made me have responsibility for my routine. In reality, it was a gradual process and I’m still learning. 

As an apprentice you have to focus on your studying and your work, so it’s extremely important to manage your time and have a formula to be efficient when doing so. I recognised that I wanted to do many different things at once, and getting better at time-blocking has allowed me to allocate specific time slots to specific tasks each week. I also applied this to my life outside of work which has given me the capacity to learn new skills and focus on personal goals.

I think overcoming the challenges of time-management and showing up as myself have been my secret weapons which have opened so many doors for me. Highlights of my career so far include winning a National Apprenticeship Award and being shortlisted for the Multicultural Apprenticeship Awards in the Judges’ Choice Category.  

The skills I have picked up on my apprenticeship have increased my desire to learn more and become more efficient in different aspects of my life. I hope to inspire others to reflect on the life they want to live and pursue their dreams.