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This article was written by CGI member Chloe Gallacher who joined CGI in 2016 as an apprentice. She is now working full time as a software developer while studying towards a masters degree.

There’s no doubt a university education can be an important stepping stone in growing a professional career and setting yourself up for the future.

But through my experience at CGI, I’ve learned that an apprenticeship can help you do that and more, all while getting paid!

There are different types of apprenticeships, all of which enable you to gain new skills and study towards recognised qualifications. Graduate apprenticeships even allow you to gain a degree whilst working, with the costs of your training fully funded.

What’s the difference between an apprenticeship and an internship?

An apprenticeship is different from an internship because an apprenticeship is a full-time, ongoing contract, whereas an internship will maybe only be for six months or a year. At the end of an apprenticeship, you gain a certificate and most likely a permanent job offer.

An apprenticeship focuses on continuous learning combined with workplace learning; they both go hand in hand. You learn the academics behind your role at the same time as applying what you have learned on the job. 

With an internship, you are expected to have previous experience, usually a university-level qualification, whereas with an apprenticeship, this is not required: you gain this experience through mentorship and throughout the apprenticeship program. 

My experience with CGI’s apprenticeship program

I joined CGI as a Modern Apprentice four-and-a-half years ago, because after leaving school I decided that I wanted an alternative to further full-time education.

During my Modern Apprenticeship, I learned technical skills which I was able to apply through on-the-job training, and in addition, learnt a number of programming languages. This provided me with a good knowledge base and once I had completed the Modern Apprenticeship, CGI supported me to further my learning and continue studying to gain a Graduate Apprenticeship.

The Graduate-Level Apprenticeship went into more technical depth, but also gave me further experience and exposure to how these technical elements apply to the entire business. Overall, it provided a wider view of the business, its inner workings and project management areas, and meant I was not only focused on technical learning.

Now I’m onto a Masters!

My learning journey hasn’t stopped there. I’m now doing my Master’s degree alongside working full time. CGI supports me with my Master’s by allowing one day a week to attend university and focus on my studies, which is really helpful when trying to balance work with CGI and university life.

Additionally, CGI has given me a set mentor – our CISO (Chief Information Security Officer) – who is a real asset to my studies and work life. I have been so lucky to be able to learn from and be supported by him. I now have a goal to focus on, as well as having someone to guide me while I am still trying to learn new technologies and how they apply to the wider business here at CGI.

Learning opportunities at CGI

An apprenticeship should be about both building someone's career and supporting them along the way – and I think that CGI does this very well.

When you join CGI, you get matched with a mentor who helps give you focus and support in a fresh career. This is whether you’re a young person straight out of school and feeling like it’s a very daunting time, or an older person coming from a different background and wanting to change careers. That support and guidance gives people from all different stages of life a chance to grow and develop.

Above all, the opportunities are here for the taking. CGI has an online learning portal with all different kinds of training offering the chance to upskill in pretty much any subject you want. It is all free and available to anyone within the organisation. This means you can just log on, learn and develop your skills to your heart’s desire.

And if there is any specific certification training that you want to do, all you need to do is ask as a training budget is available for employees. You’ll always find an ongoing source of encouragement to continue your training and learning – and that’s an amazing benefit not all companies offer.

Interested in joining us? Check out the latest job opportunities at CGI.