Bethany Woodhead

Employer:    Mediterranean Shipping Company
Job Title:  Junior BI Developer
University:   University of Suffolk
Programme Title:  BSc Digital and Technology Solutions Professional: Software Engineering Pathway
Date started: 25th September 2017

Recommendation by Mark Power, Course Leader, University of Suffolk

Bethany’s development over the course of the apprenticeship programme has been truly inspirational. Despite having initial doubts over her confidence and technical ability, Bethany pushed herself to fully engage in the apprenticeship. She volunteered to become course representative, was an important contributor at school committee meetings and a key member of the lecturer interview panel. In doing so she honed many of the softer skills which are essential for a successful career.

Throughout her final year project Bethany demonstrated excellent collaborative and technical skills, producing a superb software solution that is now in operational use by her employer. Her public speaking and presentation skills shone in her final presentation.

In conversation with Bethany

Please describe your current role.

As a junior BI Developer, my main tasks include developing and maintaining our reporting solutions; whilst interrogating and analysing data to provide key insight.  I am assisting the team in our further adoption of cloud services and exploration of new technologies and data science solutions to identify benefits for the business and our customers.

Describe a typical day

I am still learning in my new role, meaning a varied day-to-day workload that provides opportunities to experiment with new technologies. Most recently I have been investigating how cognitive services could help optimise some of our business processes and identify opportunities for their use.

What has been the best experience of your Tech Industry Gold degree apprenticeship?

One of the best experiences was being able to apply everything I learnt over the apprenticeship to manage, design and build a solution to help the company as part of my dissertation. The project gave me confidence and realisation in what I had achieved from where I started. After coming into the apprenticeship with no previous software development or IT experience to then confidently deliver tasks and the project was the best experience.

What has been the most challenging experience of your Tech Industry Gold degree apprenticeship?

I have always suffered from confidence issues and struggled with public speaking and presentations in the past. Knowing and building up to delivering my final dissertation presentation was my most challenging experience, as I had to practice overcoming my nerves to not only deliver a presentation but also demonstrate the system and answer questions. However, delivering the presentation turned out to be one of my proudest achievements and has given me the confidence I can take forward in my future endeavours.

What has your employer done to help with your degree apprenticeship that you particularly appreciate? 

One of the things I most appreciate is the mentor support I received throughout my degree at MSC. The mentorship programme they set up gave me the support, encouragement and someone to talk to about all aspects of the apprenticeship from the start. It meant I was able to be fully immersed in the department, giving me an appreciation of each team’s role; and every day I got to (and still get to) learn something new from my colleagues.

What has your university done to help you with your degree apprenticeship that you particularly appreciate? 

I really appreciated their response in handling the impact of the pandemic and move to online learning. I felt supported and able to reach out for discussions with my lecturers and the university. During the time I was finishing my third year and preparing to start the dissertation, and I believe the way they handled the situation minimised any negative impact on my learning and wellbeing.

What advice would you give someone considering a Tech Industry Gold degree apprenticeship?

I would say fully engage with the learning and experience, take every opportunity you can to get involved in the university and at work. Most importantly don’t be afraid to ask questions both at work and university, I have found there is never a silly question and there’s always someone ready to help.

What are your career plans?

I would like to continue progressing with MSC and work towards a role in data science. I am planning to continue my learning and currently preparing for certifications in data science and AI after recently passing my data analyst certification.

Anything else to add?

I was already a supporter of apprenticeships before I started mine and the experience has only strengthened this feeling. I believe apprenticeships provide an amazing structure and support mechanism for students, which sets them up for the future by applying what we learn in the classroom to real-world everyday scenarios. As an apprenticeship employer, MSC actively involved me in the day-to-day and made me feel like a valued member of the team. The active role MSC took in the apprenticeship, my learning and the university helped ensure I gained the most out of the experience to prepare me for my new role.

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