Apprentice's story - Holly Brazier

Holly Brazier is a degree apprentice working at Goldman Sachs and studying for a software engineering degree at Queen Mary University London. Holly is also the degree apprentice board member of the Institute of Coding. 

How does your apprenticeship work in practice?

I attend university two days a week, studying modules alongside full-time students as well as with other degree apprentices. It’s great to be able to physically attend the university and interact with the lecturers and students.

Lectures and lab sessions provide great support if you do not understand things or have any questions.

What have you gained from your apprenticeship?

Working at a firm in their technology department has given me the opportunity to put the concepts I learn at university into practice, days after I learn them.

I feel I have developed skills much quicker by being able to apply the concepts I’ve learned in the workplace than I would if I had followed the traditional university route. 

How do you manage working full-time and studying for a degree?

The apprenticeship has worked well for me but it is tough to balance commitments. I think the best advice I got was to learn how to manage your own time and what works well for you. Not everyone works best in the mornings or in long bursts. As you figure this out, the time management will become a lot easier.

Be open with work and your university about how you are getting on - they have resources that can help you find the right balance.

What do you think students need to succeed?

It is vital students have the right support network at both university and work.

At university we have a supervisor, whilst at work we have a manager, a mentor and a buddy assigned to us. I’ve also found that the immediate team you work with are critical in helping you do well.

The apprentice community is great, we have a network of those at work who are on the same course as well as other employers’ apprentices who study alongside us at university.

What advice would you give to someone designing an apprenticeship?

​Make sure you define the skills you want people to have before deciding the modules and pathways they will follow. It is also critical that they are skills that can be applied and learnt in the workplace. Remember apprentices learn on the job so it must be accessible for them to learn the basics and build on these.

Also, remember that soft skills are just as important in the workplace so giving practical advice on skills such as presentations and working within a team is also invaluable.

Holly Brazier degree apprentice in front of London skyline
Holly Brazier, degree apprentice
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