As part of National Apprenticeship Week 2020, we sat down with Katy from IBM talk about her experience of a degree apprenticeship.

Why did you choose a Degree Apprenticeship over a degree?

I chose to do a degree apprenticeship over a degree because I was really interested in working for IBM. IBM are not only a huge global technology leader but also a company that are well known for their employee development and the diversity of different roles and careers they offer.

I had also come to really value my financial independence and an enormous student debt was an unattractive prospect. On this scheme, I earn a salary whilst simultaneously gaining a degree from a London business school (the best of both worlds!)

What was your experience of the application process? Do you have any tips for others going through the application process?

So, my application process was perhaps a bit different to most other DA’s at Pearson, as mine was led by IBM. Having successfully passed the IBM online interview, assessment centre and executive panel interview, I was then sent to the Pearson assessment centre.

My main tip to anyone currently in the application process is to ensure that you are prepared. Putting time and effort into your research can really make you stand out as someone that is on the ball and interested in your subject area and company. As well as research I think it is always good to build on your interview skills, it is often said that interviewers can tell within 90 seconds of meeting you whether they want to hire you. Therefore, it is so important to make your first impressions count, be confident, express yourself well and perfect your handshake!

Tell us about a typical day at IBM?

My typical day at IBM, always starts with the berry yogurt bowl and a cappuccino from Pret, I then typically spend an hour catching up on emails and finishing off anything from the day before. Usually I then pick up any new work we have in which I then focus on for the rest of the day.

My current role involves forming contracts for any additional sales we make with existing IBM clients. I enjoy the role as it has really given me a strong understanding of the sales process within my business line and I have been fortunate to have worked on several different accounts which has allowed me to grow a large network of people in different areas of the business.

Is there a project you’ve worked on that you’re particularly proud of? What did it involve?

In February this year I was involved in a key IBM meeting between the General Manager of IBM UKI and key people at Pearson including their chief strategy officer, where I presented on my pathway and my experience at PCL. This was a great opportunity for me to get exposure to top management levels and I was also able to improve on my public speaking opportunities, I got great feedback after the event which was really gratifying.

Have you found any aspect of the Degree Apprenticeship challenging?

I think one of the most challenging aspects I have found has been balancing my life. Juggling my job, degree and social life has at times been tough. But it is something that has become easier as I have been able to improve my time management enormously. My advice to anyone starting a degree apprenticeship would be to ensure that you have a weekly plan where you can schedule in time for yourself to do the things you enjoy doing.

What have you found most rewarding?

For me, the most rewarding part of my degree apprenticeship has got to be the network I have built full of fantastic people. My cohort of IBMers and Pearson College students have been a particularly highlight as we all understand the struggles of trying to juggle our lives, but this has actually brought us all closer as a group. I love talking to people and finding out about their jobs and companies, so I have found the personal side of PCL welcoming and rewarding.

What would you say to others who are considering a Degree Apprenticeship?

I would say that doing a Degree Apprenticeship is an incredible opportunity to get the best of both worlds – a degree and 3 years of work experience simultaneously. Therefore, I would say apply and embrace any opportunities you get as a result.

If you are interested in Pearson College London's degree apprenticeship programmes, visit the Pearson College London website.