I’m loving working in a close–knit team

By Kathryn Kirk

Former Deputy Head Girl of an east Belfast grammar school explains why a Higher Level Apprenticeship in Software Development has been an ideal route.  

How a school trip inspired my future career

I was deputy Head Girl at Grosvenor along with my twin sister. I was fully immersed in school life and first got involved in after–school computer clubs from Year 9.

That involvement eventually resulted in me going to San Francisco, visiting some of the world’s leading Tech Companies including Microsoft and Facebook. It was a really exciting trip and sparked my interest in pursuing a career in the IT industry. It also inspired me to choose subjects that would lead me into a career in IT.

I knew full–time university wasn’t for me

I knew early on that I didn’t want to go to university full–time so that spurred me on to look at other options. My careers teacher was really helpful and talked to me about other routes, including apprenticeships. It was she who first directed me to Workplus. When I looked on the Workplus website and saw all the options, it gave me confidence to apply.

Working with world famous sports teams

I’m now a Higher Level apprentice with Kairos. So far it has been great. It’s an exciting company to be part of and we are working with some of the world’s most famous sports team. Kairos is a digital solution built for elite clubs that allows staff, athletes and even guardians of youth athletes to enjoy a platform that hosts their internal communication and operations practices. Being part of a company like Kairos is motivating and I feel like I am constantly learning and developing.

I’m in a close–knit team and I’m able to work with new people. It has been great to learn from colleagues who have a wealth in experience and I’m also working with two other apprentices – including my twin sister!

It’s lovely to go through this journey as a team and work in a culture which encourages me to ask questions and soak up the knowledge of more experienced colleagues.

Connecting learning and the workplace

One of the highlights of doing an apprenticeship is seeing the connection between what I’m learning at university and then my work at Kairos. It is such a great blend and mutually benefits both my work and my study.

For me, an apprenticeship was ideal as I wanted to go into the workplace but have that safety net of learning as I go as well.

Advice to school leavers

If you think you don’t have enough experience to go straight into the workplace, don’t worry. The point of the apprenticeship is about working and learning as you go.

An apprenticeship is fantastic – having the opportunity to continue your education as well as work in a great company that is committed to seeing you develop professionally.

One of the big advantages is that at the end of the apprenticeship, you get a formal qualification with no student debt. Altogether, it’s a great option.

Ten years’ time

In ten years’ time, I’m not sure exactly where I want to be but I will have completed by apprenticeship and have 10 years’ experience in software development under my belt!

I’d love to be able to share what I’ve learned and be able to help apprentices coming after me as well – it’s such a valuable opportunity. 

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