Introduce yourself

My name is Fiona Inglis and I’m a fourth year Graduate Apprenticeship student with Edinburgh Napier University, studying BSc (Hons) Software Development. I work for a software company based in Edinburgh called Forrit as part of my course.

Tell us about your Graduate Apprenticeship experienceGraduate Apprentice Fiona Inglis

I started out as a third year Graduate Apprentice, working with Forrit while studying at Edinburgh Napier University once a month to earn my degree in Software Development while I worked.

We have roughly one or two modules per trimester, with the year being split into three. So, we have a total of five or six modules a year, with one overarching course throughout that period.

My third-year module of Software Engineering was extremely useful in developing the hard skills I needed to progress in my career and become a Software Developer.

How has your Graduate Apprenticeship benefited your career thus far?

My work and my responsibilities have changed greatly since I started, mostly thanks to gaining experience through my Graduate Apprenticeship. Being in Quality Assurance, my daily job was to ensure that any work the developers produced pertained to a high standard and there were no mistakes. That work could be designing an entirely new website or specific web feature for a client or importing translations, which is essentially editing the coding of a website to develop or edit content.

What key skills have you learned on your course?

One of the key skills I’ve learnt from my Software Development Graduate Apprenticeship is software engineering. It’s allowed me to progress from quality assurance into a development-based role. So, I’m able to develop components for website and understand their general structure.

Another skill I have learnt is teamwork. My team and I work together to meet deadlines that are set by the client and tackling these challenges with my classmates allows us all to develop our skills together in a supportive and fun environment. 

How has your Graduate Apprenticeship helped you develop your skills?

Looking back on my course so far, I have been able to develop skills through both university and work. University had allowed me to develop new skills and a better understanding of the analytical thinking they require, while work has helped consolidate those skills in a practical environment. This includes skills such as software engineering itself, software development, as well as digital security and many more.

I have now progressed into a new role and I am now the one who actually does the development work, I am no longer just checking the quality of my colleague’s work.

This course hasn’t only benefited my career through giving me new skills though, it has also given me a really strong support network through peers at my work who I am on the course with, as well as co-workers who have years of experience and knowledge who support me in my work.

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

The Graduate Apprenticeship scheme sets us apart because we are job ready when we graduate. Thanks to the practical experience we accumulate over our course, along with the theoretical and background knowledge of the subject, we can walk right into jobs with very little or no training to get us up to speed. We also have the benefit of actually having a job when we graduate, as our time spent with our employer doesn’t end when we have our degree like a placement might, which gives you that bit of reassurance and security. 

It also reduces any financial concerns and means I don’t need to worry about paying back tuition fees or student loans as I get paid while I work so don’t have to rely on funding for day-to-day life. This is another way Graduate apprenticeships give you a head start over regular graduates because I can get on with the important bit of developing my career without the financial burden.

Employers are known to want people that have a degree along with years of experience, the Graduate Apprenticeship removes that issue, because that is part of the complete package that comes with studying one.

What challenges did you face on your Graduate Apprenticeship?

The biggest challenge I faced along the way was the fact that I came into my job with no web development experience. There was a steep learning curve to get my skills to where I wanted them to be, but I found myself progressing quickly and am now confident in my new role as a web developer. The course allowed me to develop those skills and eventually progress from quality assurance into a web development-based role with my company, Forrit.
What made you want to work for Forrit?

I wanted to work for Forrit because of the Graduate Apprenticeship scheme. I was employed as a Graduate Apprentice and that, to me, proved that the company was willing to invest in its employees and, with that, showed that they would be developing a loyal and hardworking workforce that is attuned to exactly what Forrit needs.

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

My advice for anyone considering the Graduate Apprenticeship scheme would be hat if they want fast-track access to the industry with academic support and financial support then go for it!