It has set me up for life

By Gina Lonergan


After studying at Assumption Grammar School in Ballynahinch, I was curious about apprenticeships after my careers teacher emailed an advertisement that was online about Workplus apprenticeships. I knew that I didn’t want to go down the typical path of going to university to study, and so I looked further into this pathway. It really appealed to me and so I applied. I was so surprised by how simple the Workplus application process was! It gave me all the necessary information on one website and was straight to the point. I am so glad I chose this pathway and haven’t looked back since.

I have found it to be so rewarding to combine learning with on–the–job experience. 

On Mondays, I have my lectures at Ulster University, and then the rest of the week I am with Liberty IT. It has been brilliant to balance work with learning and applying what I learn to my job. Everyone at Liberty IT has been so helpful and are always there to answer the questions you have at any stage. They have been a great support and have helped me to settle in so quickly. I have now developed such huge pride in what I do. I feel that Liberty IT is such a “people’s company” and there is constant communication between us all. From having a coffee and a chat each week to everyone being so nice, it really has helped me to settle in to the apprenticeship lifestyle.

At the beginning I was paired with a mentor who really helped me set up with the technical aspect and find my feet. There is a constant support network who are always there to help me with tasks that I am assigned. I wasn’t thrown into it but I was eased slowly and they made it all so much easier for me. It’s not something to be concerned about as they are always there for me and are so patient and reassuring.

The main reason I went for a Workplus apprenticeship is the stability I knew I would have from earning a salary and learning at the same time. All my fees are paid for and for me it’s definitely an easier way to learn. I have the perfect balance of actively applying my knowledge to my work. I feel that I have an advantage over others in my lectures who mightn’t know what is going on but chances are I have already done this at Liberty IT. I would even say this makes learning more fun!

My family are so happy and supportive of my decision to do a Workplus apprenticeship. They know now I’m set up for my future career. They know I’m really enjoying it and they wish they had the same opportunities when they were younger. They appreciate that I have no fees and a huge plus for them is they don’t have to help me financially anymore.

School leavers often have the fear of missing out of university life but I really don’t miss out on any socialising with my friends, especially after work and weekends. I feel I have an advantage over those who go to university and pay fees, as I have a job and I’m so happy with what I do. I don’t feel worried about money which is usually a huge stressor for many university students.

I would definitely recommend a Workplus apprenticeship! I still live with my friends in Elms– and I did wonder at the beginning whether this would be a good idea but all of us do our own thing. I have so much time after work and weekends to catch up and socialise with my friends (as long as COVID–19 restrictions allow!), and other hobbies such as exercising. 

I don’t think I have missed out by not going down the typical university pathway and it’s not a big issue for me anymore, I feel like I’m constantly learning and building on my knowledge so its definitely the best decision I have ever made.

I’m not just here to earn a salary, I have become genuinely passionate about my work and have developed my pride and confidence along the way. I know my work will pay off at the end when I have a degree and a job and so, the stability will always be there. I’m committed to learning and I know I am capable of impressing my company.

I am so lucky to be involved with Liberty IT who actively promote women in technology. 

Especially in the field of computing systems, the ratio wasn’t equal with girls and boys who were interested, and I always thought it would be more catered towards the boys but that isn’t the case at all here. Coming out of school, it’s a level playing field for everyone, so whatever apprenticeship you are interested in, I recommend you to just go for it and be yourself. It will be the best choice you ever make!

This site uses cookies for general analytics but not for advertising purposes. View our cookie policy to find out more. If you continue without changing your settings, we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies on our website. However, you can change your cookie settings at any time.

Applications open