Apprenticeship update: Python bites

It’s funny how quickly things can change from one week to the next.

In my last update, I mentioned how September had been the most positive month so far since starting my Data Fellowship apprenticeship in March. My situation was starting to move in the right direction and I had a good feeling about what was to come.

October is here now though and my mood has taken a bit of dip over the past few weeks. It’s difficult to tell whether this is something to do with the dark nights and colder weather closing in around us, or if my emotions are negatively impacted only by the massive amount of work on my plate. I should probably apologise upfront before we go any further. There’s a certain amount of frustration inside so this post is likely to become an offloading session.

Remember I shared that a contractor was finally starting after three months of it being in the pipeline? This person was due to focus on database and sever upgrades, to give me some space to act as an IT service management consultant (ITSM) for another team to help them get through their audit findings. Unfortunately, it didn’t last long. A ‘personal situation’ meant the guy had to leave after two days.

My boss is looking for a replacement, but recruitment never moves quickly in education. This means I’m left dealing with my day-job, those upgrades, identity management, the ITSM consultancy and anything else my senior teammate delegates. Directors from other areas are now starting to approach me for data and reports too because of my participation in the apprenticeship. It’s difficult to manage it all, and that’s not even considering the training sessions or portfolio work that needs to be completed.

If what I’m going through right now is an example of how to get to that stage, I’m not sure how sustainable or reasonable it is.

One of the buzz-phrases in IT is ‘T-shaped people’. It basically means you have expertise in one area, coupled with knowledge and skills about a range of others. It sounds great in theory because it enables you to collaborate with colleagues outside of your own area and be involved in a wider range of projects. But if what I’m going through right now is an example of how to get to that stage, I’m not sure how sustainable or reasonable it is. All I know is that I’m bloody tired and want to stop being pulled in all directions.

This week’s Python training hasn’t really helped my mood. Our coaches warned us multiple times that the pre-work required for this module was far longer than for the previous ones, and to expect to have to set aside around 20 hours. I slogged through the material, got to the end of it despite feeling as though it had gone in one ear and out the other, and felt as prepared for Tuesday’s session as I could be considering my workload. And what happened? I was one of the only attendees who had bothered to complete it.

I’ve spent over six hours this week on conference calls, going through subjects my fellow apprentices should have already been familiar with thanks to the pre-work. And if that wasn’t bad enough, our group is now behind because we didn’t get to cover all the topics required for this module as a result. This means the coaches will have to record the rest of it in a video so we can go over it in our own time – as well as complete the next set of pre-work – before November’s session on data analysis in Python.

As for the code itself, I feel as though I haven’t quite gotten to grips with it yet. It hasn’t come as naturally to me as SQL did and I think that’s part of the problem: while there are many similarities between various programming languages, there are also major differences and certain things in Python don’t work the same as T-SQL. I’m constantly having to remind myself of the code I’m working in and those distinctions. I’m not entirely worried though, and hope I just need a bit more practice away from my apprenticeship group.

It’s important to keep reminding myself how far I’ve come since becoming an apprentice in March and how much I’m capable of.

I’m feeling quite demotivated at the time of drafting this post and know I need to shake myself out of this mindset. It’s important to keep reminding myself how far I’ve come since becoming an apprentice in March and how much I’m capable of. I recently started writing the third project report for my portfolio and only one more should be needed after this. And in a progress meeting with my coach and manager last week, he said I’m on track to aim for a distinction rather than just a pass. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Sticking with positive news now, something good came out of last month’s hackathon session too. I’d been nervous going into it because I hadn’t known what to expect and wanted to do something to help other apprentices who had similar events coming up. After reaching out to the apprenticeship company, I wrote an article entitled Surviving Your First Hackathon for their website. I think this is the first time I’ve had my work published on something other than my own or a friends’ blog, so it’s rather exciting for me.

That’s enough moaning for one post. I’m going to forget about everything for the evening and get lost in a good video game. There are four weeks to go until November’s training session and I’ve got a whole bunch more Python stuff to get through before then – but starting it can wait until the morning. At least it’s not Power BI, I guess.

About Author /

Spreadsheet lover, video gamer and SpecialEffect volunteer. Goes by the name 'kissingthepixel' online. Lifelong fan of wannabe pirates and fine leather jackets.


  • Timlah
    5 months ago Reply

    As someone who does python almost daily at work, it’s one of those languages that once you get your head around the syntax and keywords, it becomes quite powerful. If anyone’s going to get through it though, it’s you! Keep at it and if you want to talk snakes with someone, I’m happy to chat through things. Good luck! You’ve got this.

    • Kim
      5 months ago Reply

      Thanks Tim, I know who to come to for advice when I get stuck! I know I’ll be able to learn Python if I get enough time to practice it but there’s just so much going on at the moment. I need a holiday… oh wait, December is almost here. 😉

  • Dryad
    5 months ago Reply

    Good to hear you’re taking rest when you need it. But all those events tied together do sound pretty annoying. It’s unfortunate that even now group working is still as frustrating as ever. I hope that you get recognized for all your hard work!!

    • Kim
      5 months ago Reply

      Thanks for the words of encouragement. <3

      I was feeling pretty frustrated when I wrote this post and started to feel more positive once I'd got it off my chest, but you're right, group working can be such a pain. I'm just going to take the next month one day as a time and try not to let it get to me too much. 🙂

  • Cynni Pixy
    5 months ago Reply

    Wow that sounds like a heavy workload! And how shitty that the other people had not put in the needed work for the course 😔
    Congratulations on the bit you wrote being shared on their site! Must have been quite exciting and N acknowledgement of your dedication. 😊

    • Kim
      5 months ago Reply

      I’ve had an idea for another article so I’m hoping the company will be open to publishing another one at some point. It’s kind of weird writing something which isn’t about me or video games for once, but in a nice way!

      • Cynni Pixy
        5 months ago Reply

        Ow I hope they’ll be open for another one of your articles. 😊 Would be cool. And yes, I understand, if you write a lot about one thing it can feel very strange to write about another one. Maybe even like you’re cheating on the first thing 😂
        Fingers crossed they will be interested 🤞🏻

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