Introduce yourself

My name is Callum Lackie and I’m currently on the Graduate Apprenticeship programme with Edinburgh Napier university studying BSc (Hons) Software Development. I work with a software company based in Edinburgh called Forrit as part of my Graduate Apprenticeship.

I am in my fourth year of the course and will graduate in September 2022.Graduate Apprentice Callum Lackie

What has the Graduate Apprenticeship taught you?

The main thing the course has taught me, aside from software development, is time management – fitting a full course of study into one day a week and planning submissions around work deadlines means you quickly get a grip of managing your own time.

Can you give us an overview of your career thus far?

I began the programme as a member of the Quality Assurance team with Forrit, checking the work of the developers and gaining an understand of how and why they do things. After a year I became a developer myself, and now I work on building tools and website components for our enterprise clients to use to manage their own websites.

What does an average week look like for you?

I start the week with work, then take Wednesdays as my study day. It breaks up my week nicely and means I’m at the height of my productivity for my university work.

I’m in the final year of my Graduate Apprenticeship with Edinburgh Napier now and only have contact days with my university lecturers once a month, so usually I practice self-led study on those days. I then come back to work to finish off the week with new ideas and renewed focus after my university or study day has given me a chance to focus on different tasks and learn about new things.

How has your Graduate Apprenticeship benefited your career thus far?

One of the main aspects of the course is that we are encouraged to set specific goals with our mentors for each year of study, and this has slotted in really nicely with my company’s existing 6-month review process. It means I am always focused on the next goal, and my line manager is always keenly aware of what my aims are and can help me achieve them.

What skills have you gained through your Graduate Apprenticeship?

Working with a team has been something that my university course has really assisted with – when I started I was reluctant to engage in group projects as part of my study, but over time I have come to relish them and they have really improved my ability to work with others in my day-to-day professional work as well.
Being able to study my degree alongside other fellow colleagues at Forrit has allowed me to engage in a lot of group work and communicate through projects.

How has your Graduate Apprenticeship set you apart from regular graduates?

A lot of my friends went to university to study computing or cybersecurity and, since graduating, have moved on to get jobs. Pretty much every one of them that I’ve explained the Graduate Apprenticeship scheme to have echoed some variation of “That makes way more sense” or “I wish I’d done that.”

By the time I graduate, I will already have a year of Quality Assurance and 3 years of Developer experience and would be able to jump right over any junior roles and straight into something more mid-level or perhaps even senior.

What attracted you to the Graduate Apprenticeship scheme?

I had already been to university for a short time and dropped out because it wasn’t for me. So, I was looking for a way of skipping university and still getting into a career and that’s where I heard about Graduate Apprenticeship.

A friend suggested an apprenticeship to me and I found the Graduate Apprenticeship with Forrit on 

At first I was hesitant to come back to university, but I’ve actually come to enjoy it more. The Graduate Apprenticeship is definitely a much better way of handling university – keeping it to one day a week has been really great, and the things I learn at work make most of the modules very easy to grasp and ultimately succeed in.

Have you faced any challenges on your course?

To be honest, I haven’t faced any major challenges thus far. I think that’s the benefit of the scheme in that the university side of things has been very easy to handle and my workplace have been very supportive.

Forrit are very good at keeping my university study day sacred as a day when I am able to focus solely on my learning. I can’t say enough positive things about just how much my company prioritises our learning and the scheme.

Would you recommend the Graduate Apprenticeships to other? If so, why?

I would recommend it to every student!

A Graduate Apprenticeship allows you to start your job and training then start on the university part afterwards once you’re already making money. Skills Development Scotland and Student Award Agency Scotland (SAAS) cover all the tuition fees, so there’s no debt.

By the end of the programme, you’ve spent four years working and getting real world experience as well as your degree and are in a much better position than a regular graduate. And the best part of it all is, you leave university with a job.

What advice would you give to someone considering a Graduate Apprenticeship?

Absolutely do it, there is no downside - only a long list of potential benefits. It makes way, way more practical sense to integrate the job and degree together, than to do them one after the other.

By the end of the course, you will mostly likely have higher grades than your regular student peers – last year’s apprentices at my company nearly all got 1st class degrees – you will have years of working experience in your field, no student debt and have been paid through all 4 years of the programme.