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  • An insight into PwC's Technology Degree Apprenticeship programme

    Written by the team at PwC

    Jeanelle is one of our Technology Degree Apprentices (TDAs) based in our Belfast office and studies Software Engineering with Digital Technology at Queens University. She started her degree in 2019 and was due to begin her first paid work placement at PwC in the summer of 2020. The COVID pandemic unfortunately pushed her placement back until the Autumn, but Jeanelle remained positive and even took the opportunity to work on summer projects with her future colleagues. 

    “I’m incredibly grateful for PwC having the flexibility to offer me the chance to be part of summer workstreams with other TDAs. Before even officially starting my placement I was sharing my ideas on how we could grow the number of organisations that are a part of the Tech She Can Charter. As a young woman at the start of my own career it was really interesting to be involved in these conversations on modern feminism and its importance especially in a male-dominated industry such as Technology. 

    It was refreshing to share and to listen to our ideas and anecdotes. We concluded that the stigma around the rarity of women in technology leadership roles could be lessened by giving women a safe space to celebrate their accomplishments. We’ve since launched a TDA Women in Tech newsletter with useful links and resources of upcoming events.”

    Our Technology Degree Apprenticeship is unique; a fully funded four year degree in computer science or software engineering, alongside paid work experience during the summer months. Once our TDAs graduate, they’ll have four years work experience, and provided they obtain a 2.1, will be offered a permanent role with us. 

    “There are 18 other TDAs in my Belfast cohort and we have all created such a lovely, close bond. A lot of us have even moved in together and have made plans to live together in the next year.”

    Jeanelle was born in the Philippines and moved to Northern Ireland when she was four years old. She has a real love for musical theatre and was a member of a local drama club called Newcastle Glees Musical Society where she was involved in 12 shows. She’s now part of the Queen’s Knights Cheerleading Club, and competes in three different dance teams as part of the Club.

    “As a full time university student for most of the year, I still get to participate in the usual university clubs, and in March 2020, just before lockdown, I got to compete in the British Cheerleading Association (BCA) Cheer Nationals. I’m a flyer, which involves being thrown in the air during stunt routines; I love it! I think my team would describe me as honest, charismatic and friendly.”

    Reflecting on her first placement at PwC this year, Jeanelle’s been positively surprised about the inclusivity and support she’s had as a TDA. Everyone who joins PwC, whether that’s through a degree apprenticeship, work experience or as an experienced joiner is treated with the same respect and induction support. 

    jeanelle and friends with trophy

    Her initial worries about joining with no experience or knowledge of the client work she’d be involved in quickly disappeared. She was greeted with the support and patience to learn at her own pace which Jeanelle believes helped grow her confidence even quicker.

    “We were given the space to learn, and even though my placement occurred virtually, I still felt supported at every stage. We had weekly ‘TDA engagement sessions’ where different Technology teams gave us introductory talks to explain the projects they’re responsible for. It was also a way for us to stay in the loop and give us the information we needed to choose what skills we want to further with PwC. There’s a real emphasis on personal ownership of your own career development and direction and this is exciting as I can see so many opportunities for each of my placements.”

    Looking ahead to her return to university and her second placement with PwC in the summer of 2021, Jeanelle is going to take forward some of the learnings from the last few months regarding virtual working. 

    Like many, Jeanelle was supported with working from home and whilst there were aspects of this she enjoyed (less commuting to her work desk or to lecture halls), there were often times where she’d struggle with motivation. It was through the support of her closest friends, many who were also on the Degree programme, that helped pull Jeanelle through the slower days.

    “I missed the routine I had of travelling to lectures and the face to face socialising during the day. Yes there are perks of working from home, but for me, I’m really looking forward to going back into the Belfast office full time for my next placement and to in-person lectures, particularly because I’ll get to have my favourite strawberry milkshake from the local cafe as a treat.”

    Jeanelle’s PwC story is only just beginning, and whilst she adapts to this new way of work, she’ll have the support from her parents and springer spaniel Max when she visits back home. 

    “I’m still so proud to be part of the Tech Degree Apprenticeship. It means I can get a taste of student life and the working world at the same time. It’s such an amazing opportunity as I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything by going down the apprenticeship route as opposed to the traditional way of “go to university, get your degree and then get a job”.

    It makes a gradual transition into the world of work much less intimidating and means that as soon as I graduate, I will already have four years of corporate experience under my belt.”

    To read more about our Technology Degree Apprenticeships, click here.

    About the author

    Aoife is a Sync NI writer with a previous background working in print, online and broadcast media. She has a keen interest in all things tech related. To connect with Aoife feel free to send her an email or connect on LinkedIn.

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