Degree Apprenticeships are game-changers


Cinderella Ezeanochie is studying for a Tech Industry Gold Degree Apprenticeship at Manchester Metropolitan University and working at Fujitsu as a software engineer. She recently took part in an online panel discussion at the Tech Industry Gold Degree Apprenticeship Celebration during National Apprenticeship Week 2021.

After the event, we caught up with Cinderella to find out more about her experiences.

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

The job I’m in now was the result of the first interview I had. I was really pleased when I was offered the role and I love my job too. I get to work on really interesting projects. One of my current mentors was one of the only women on her degree apprenticeship and she’s really made her way to the top, so it’s great to speak to her and learn from her.

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

I’m originally from London and I’d been invited to an interview for a software engineer degree apprenticeship at a Manchester branch of Fujitsu. I was pleased as it offered the degree qualification, so I went forward with the role at Fujitsu and relocated.

The interview was great and was really interactive however, I was the only female there. I wasn’t shocked by that, to be honest. Fujitsu are always actively trying to recruit more women, but not a lot of women apply for STEM jobs. I think there needs to be more awareness that women can get into STEM.

In terms of doing a degree apprenticeship at Manchester Metropolitan University, I do find it difficult to balance the work and the study, I’m not going to lie. You’ve got to balance work and studying really well as prioritising one ends up affecting the other. It takes a lot of diligence, but long term the results will definitely be worth it. It’s hard but I have been doing great balancing the two so far.

What would you say now, to yourself, before you enrolled on your degree apprenticeship? 

When I finally found out about degree apprenticeships, my actual thoughts were:

“Oh wow! Where have you been all my life?” The degree apprenticeship has been a game-changer

What would you say to anyone considering a Tech Industry Gold degree apprenticeship?

I’m encouraging my younger siblings to pursue a degree apprenticeship and they’re all looking forward to the opportunity.

For women thinking about getting into technology, I’d say engineering is for anybody. The tech industry has no boundaries, it is an inclusive industry. Anybody can do it. And we need more women. It makes it more creative to have a mix of people. Companies say they want creative minds but if you just have one group of similar people working together, you’re not exploring so many different views and creative inputs.

Anything else to add?

I finished my A-levels during what was quite a challenging time in my life. My mother was unwell, so when I started looking at my study options, I needed somewhere to study close to home.

I wasn’t allowed to consider an apprenticeship, as my mother was really against them. My family was quite uninformed about apprenticeships and believed that university was the only option. As my mother was ill, I didn’t push it and I ended up going to university after my mother’s death.

The university didn’t have the course I wanted to study, so I ended up doing an undergraduate degree in electrical and electronics engineering, which was the closest thing to the route I wanted to take. But it wasn’t really for me to be honest.

As my mother passed away just before I started university, I ended up becoming a carer for my siblings. It was too difficult for me to carry on with my degree and I had to take a break in learning.

After a while, I went back to university while looking at other routes that would fit in with my life at the time. I really needed to be earning money by then.

I kept hearing more and more about apprenticeships and I liked the idea of learning while earning. By this point, after a lot of searching, I’d set my heart on doing software engineering. I’d always been known as ‘The Fixer’ in my family, as everyone would come to me to fix things when they broke, so it seemed like the perfect choice for me.

[Ed] Thank you Cinderella for sharing your story and good luck with your career.

You can read more Degree Apprenticeship success stories here.

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