CGI partner Ethan Gardner always knew he wanted to learn about being a software programmer by getting hands-on experience, rather than just going to university and starting his career afterwards. His CGI apprenticeship has enabled him to do exactly that, giving him full-time on-the-job training at the same time as studying for his degree in applied software engineering.
All of my peers were choosing their universities during A-levels, but I had no interest in following that path. I always preferred to learn by doing the actual work, and had seen multiple advertisements for apprenticeships at tech companies. The one I was most interested in was at CGI, whose apprenticeship offering was like no other. The chance to get started in the industry while working towards my Applied Software Engineering degree was exactly what I was looking for.
I’m really happy I went with CGI because my first year has been incredibly exciting. I’m seeing first-hand how development and engineering teams work, gaining invaluable experience and getting involved in great projects. I’ve also been able to use the day-to-day work I’m doing to assist my coursework. I’m really looking forward to year two here!
Finding my feet
The first few weeks (with help from CGI’s 'buddy program') really showed me how to manage my time between studying and working. It was easy to get involved with the projects, too. I started by shadowing a few colleagues, sitting in on planning and review meetings and working with them when pieces of work were assigned to me. After that, the team of apprentices was split up into multiple other projects, allowing us to develop our skills across different areas of the industry.
I’ve quickly learned that it is okay to not know things. There have been many times I didn’t know how to do a task I’d been assigned, or even non-work related things like how to book time off, but I soon discovered everyone is happy to help. We all have the common goal of supporting one another and doing the best we can for our clients.
Career development and a great culture to boot
I’ve found CGI to be an amazing resource for learning and development. We have in-house skills training courses, which are either assigned by a leader or can be found through CGI's Academia service, an online learning platform where thousands of courses and online learning resources can be accessed 24/7. I have used this a lot already to learn new programming languages and how to develop secure web applications. I was also reimbursed when I, and the rest of my development team, bought a Udemy Course to learn Angular programming.
On top of all of that, the company culture is amazing. I’ve had the opportunity to work with people from all sorts of backgrounds, cultures and countries both within CGI and through my university studies. Going to lectures has allowed me to meet some great people from other companies and form a network outside of CGI and my own development team.
Unlocking my future
This apprenticeship has unlocked so much potential for my future as a Software Developer already. A degree in Applied Software Engineering will be great for my career progression, as will having had experience within a development team. I never imagined that having both would be possible.
With so many ways to progress within CGI, I hope to keep developing my skills and knowledge as a programmer. I have the freedom to move between sectors and projects and build my experience with different technologies, programming languages and people. I’m also aiming to achieve a First in my studies, and I’m sure that being here is going to take me in the right direction!
Unlock your own career potential with CGI. Head to our careers page for open roles and graduate opportunities at CGI here!