Apprenticeship update: taking a positive step back

Sometimes it’s important to take a step back before you can push forward.

In my last apprenticeship update a few weeks ago, I made a resolution to try to be more positive – and I think it’s working. Although it can be too easy to slip back into a cynical mindset sometimes, I’m starting to notice a difference and feel generally better in myself.

We’ve been learning Python since the end of October and the first session was terrible. Most of my fellow apprentices arrived not having finished the required pre-work so we spent most our time going over basics they should have already covered. We ended up behind on the curriculum and with catch-up work to do, and this put a massive dent in my motivation.

November’s session didn’t go much better. While the training wasn’t a total disaster, a lot of what was covered by our coaches during the four days went over my head. This can be attributed to my own apathy and not doing more self-learning be ready for it rather than their lack of skill, however. Being unable to see how I was going to use these data analysis skills at my workplace didn’t do much for my enthusiasm.

December’s session on data mining took place last week. It’s thanks to my new positive outlook and a little common sense from Pete that it went slightly better. After seeing me struggle with the pre-work because I’d let myself fall behind with the earlier subjects, he told me to stop. There was no point in trying to push forward with the more advanced stuff if I didn’t have a firm grasp on the basics, so he arranged for the weekend to be free for me to get my head down and do some proper studying.

It’s so nice to be able to put effort into a task which feels like you’re making something better rather than simply keeping the lights on.

It was with some guilt then that I arrived at the first day of training having not completed the final chapter of the pre-work and knew nothing about logistic regression. I felt like a complete hypocrite for criticising the other apprentices for doing the same thing back in October but can’t deny that Pete’s advice was right. I might not have yet been at the required level of knowledge, but I felt more confident in what I did know and inspired to do more self-learning to get to where I need to be.

The good news is that taking this step back this month has allowed me to find a real-world data set I can work on using these Python skills. This means I can finally start a project for my apprenticeship portfolio which will fulfil a few of the outstanding targets so I can stop worrying about how I’m going to meet them. The data relates to customer feedback, so over the next couple of weeks I’ll be looking at response rates for my department and how satisfaction ratings are impacted by other factors.

Handily, this also relates to some of the work I’m currently doing for the Service Management Improvement Lead secondment I started in November. I discovered recently that nobody is responsible for responding to or managing the customer feedback we receive. Ignoring your customers’ opinions is one of the worst things you can do in the IT service management (ITSM) world, so I’m working on a process to rectify this. How can you improve if you aren’t aware of what your users think you’re not good at?

I haven’t enjoyed myself this much at work in several years. It’s so nice to be able to put effort into a task which feels like you’re making something better rather than simply keeping the lights on, as was the case with most of what I did in my previous database administration role. It can be a little overwhelming at times because there’s so much that needs to be done for our audit response and only a years’ secondment to do it in. But my career feels like it’s now back on track and moving forward in the right direction.

I’ve just got to keep working at it and putting in the extra hours of effort and study whenever I have the opportunity.

I’m not sure the same can be said for my previous team though. They still haven’t found anyone to cover my position. I’ve also heard through the grapevine that there have been a couple of arguments between colleagues and the director on what to do about it, along with a few instances of in-fighting which are worrying. Even if there’s no permanent position as Service Management Improvement Lead at the end of the secondment, I’m starting to think it might not be a team I want to go back to.

Things don’t seem to be going so well for the Elevate thing either. When I was accepted onto this development programme back in August, we were put into teams of around six people to work together on a project to be completed by March. It’s disappointing to see my teammates still not showing up for the weekly training calls and not responding to messages. In fact, I’ve only been able to speak to them during one meeting – and that was during the introduction session four months ago.

The coach managing the programme was planning on running ‘intervention meetings’ through December because several of the other teams are experiencing similar problems. Ours was scheduled for last week but was then cancelled the day before due to ‘annual leave and sickness’. I’m reading that more as a lack of response. I’ve no idea where this leaves the Elevate thing, because it seems a bit pointless continuing with now that we only have three months left to complete the project.

But hey, at least it’s still something I can add to my CV at the end of the apprenticeship. And on top of this, after writing my first article for the company’s blog after taking part in a data analysis hackathon in September, my second is due to be published at the beginning of January. Good things are coming out of both the apprenticeship and Elevate programme despite the difficulties. I’ve just got to keep working at it and putting in the extra hours of effort and study whenever I have the opportunity.

Maybe I’ll finally start learning how to build an artificial intelligence which is going to help me take over the world?

This is the final update on my apprenticeship for 2022 and it’s nice to end the year on a more positive note. The subject for next month’s training session is machine learning. Maybe I’ll finally start learning how to build an artificial intelligence (AI) which is going to help me take over the world? Now that sounds like a good resolution for 2023 to me.

About Author /

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

2 Comments

  • WCRobinson
    1 month ago Reply

    When we live in a dystopian future ruled over by Robo-Kim, historians will trace it back to this article! 😉 In all seriousness, I hope work is going okay and 2023 is a brilliant year for you!

    • Kim
      1 month ago Reply

      Thanks so much and the same to you too! Thankfully, I think we’re pretty far away from me taking over the world yet so everyone is safe for now. 😆

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