We are proud to introduce our IT Support Apprentice, James Reilly. James is currently working at M247 whilst studying for his Level 3 qualifications, the below interview was conducted in aid of our partnership with InnovaterHer and provides an insight into how he balances work with studying

Tell us a bit about you and your role as an apprentice.

After I left Oldham college I started working at Curry’s, at the time my job gave me some independence and stability. It was in this role I met a member of M247 staff who came into the store, after a short discussion I expressed my interest in the sector and he gave my details to the team at M247. Following this initial conversation I was directed through the ITP apprenticeship application process through which I secured an interview and awarded a place on their assessment day, before successfully securing my apprenticeship place at M247, with programme training and support from ITP.

My role at M247 is within the IT department, a business-critical function, where we are responsible for ensuring our 280+ colleagues have access to our laptops, PC’s phones, emails and all software required to work and drive the business forwards.

Why did you choose the apprenticeship route?

An apprenticeship is a great way to find your way into an industry or sector whilst gaining valuable hands-on experience. I am able to support myself financially and manage my own time, it also gives me a structured working schedule allowing me to organise my time outside of work better.

In addition to the above my course and qualifications come with minimal student loans, meaning that my time learning and developing my role will have less of a financial burden later in life.

Why was this route best suited to you?

I would describe myself as a ‘techie’, so a role based in tech / IT support has always been my ambition.

My apprenticeship allows me to get hands-on experience, and I have been able to learn new skills and techniques that classroom-based learning alone may have not been able to give me. It also gives me the opportunity to build my network within the industry, working with the team at M247.

For me, working in the telecoms industry is perfect, it is an industry that is always growing and developing so to be a part of this landscape is extremely exciting.

What do you think the biggest misconception about apprenticeships is?

The biggest misconception in my view is that apprentices are only there to provide temporary support. M247 are currently paying for all of my training on and offsite, whilst paying me a salary which allows me to commute to work and continue the social activities I’ve always enjoyed.

I don’t have a strict timetable of work; I am able to manage my own time and develop skills in the areas best suited to me.

What’s your favourite thing about being an apprentice?

For me it is the hands-on experience, working in the role I am actually training to do. The majority of companies today want employees with ‘on the job’ experience in addition to qualifications so the work I have done on my apprenticeship will help me stand out for future roles.

I can manage my own schedule of work and training; my managers leave me to it whilst being there to support and guide me. This flexible routine allows me to define my workload and helps me decide what work or studies I need to focus on day-to-day.

What top tips do you have for a young person who wants to pursue a career in digital/tech?

Firstly, I would say be yourself. Employers are looking for genuine people who are eager to learn new skills.

Secondly, don’t be scared of a challenge. It can be daunting to think you will be working in such a professional and sometimes demanding environment. It is important to remember that your managers and colleagues will be guiding you through your workload and helping you develop your skills, supporting you along the way. Finally, don’t be afraid to start at the bottom and build you way up. companies are not looking for cheap labour to delegate work to. They want to train the next generation of managers and the best ways to learn the skills necessary is to work your way up the ladder.

James Reilly, Level 3 IT Support Apprentice


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