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Tuesday 5 November 2019

Digital and Technology Solutions Professional Degree Apprentice, Thomas Valois, discusses how his apprenticeship at HB Tech and studies at Solent are going so far.

"The apprenticeship scheme at HB Tech enables me to have a day release at Solent University where I can attend the lectures on my chosen subject of network engineering. These lectures are taught by industry professionals who have been working in and around their subject area for years; this in itself is a motivation for me, as I feel I am being educated by people who have a deep knowledge of how network engineering is implemented in the workplace. As the lectures are delivered in both lecture halls and computer labs, there are countless opportunities to put my learning into practice on industry-grade equipment and technologies.

Picture of apprentice Thomas Valois in his workplace

Usually, my day consists of a morning lecture (the topic of which changes termly), followed by hands-on practical work in the computer labs. Currently, the lectures are on the topic of Computer Systems Analysis, which has given me a deeper understanding into the high-level processes which go into designing a network infrastructure. The classes are relatively small and teaching staff remain available to assist me in any problems I may encounter, as well as being able to give me feedback on any projects I have been working on. Additionally, I am fortunate enough to be able to study for a Cisco certification, which I have always wanted to accomplish. The range of opportunities at Solent are incredibly enriching and encourage me as a student to do as much independent learning as I need.

This comprehensive learning journey is easily translated into my workplace, enabling me to integrate my skills and knowledge acquired at university into my daily work tasks. The day release is highly motivational for me as once back in the office, I’m always keen to apply elements of the course to the job role. The time spent at university also gives me the opportunity to meet like-minded people and discuss any problems or issues we may have experienced. Furthermore, engaging with other students from a range of work environments allows me to see how the technologies apply to a variety of industries.

My job itself at HB Tech is incredibly fulfilling; each day is different and the diversity of tasks I need to undertake are always relatable to the learning I do at university. We are a growing team, each with a specific role, but knowledge and workload are shared across the team which gives me a great sense of belonging. I am mentored by Trevor, who follows my learning path and equally guides and advises me on my job within HB Tech. Although based in the office, I enjoy the numerous occasions where I can visit clients and see first-hand how the theoretical learning from the lectures transfers into the industry across a range of businesses. In the office, I am given Sandbox environments to practice my skills or innovate ideas before applying them to the company’s live systems. It is this kind of autonomy and faith in me as an apprentice employee which drives me to succeed! Working in such a friendly and welcoming team has allowed me to feel comfortable enough to ask questions, and this definitely has helped me grow as an employee.

As the company grows and my knowledge expands, my responsibilities increase proportionately and this, I feel will only serve to motivate me further and encourage me in both my work and my academic studies."