Apprenticeship update: a different situation

Eleven months down, only a few more to go on my Data Fellowship Apprenticeship.

After the final training sessions on Python at the end of January, our second hackathon took place last Friday. Six hours were spent trying to figure out whether there was a correlation between students’ satisfaction score and donations made to their university.

Over the past several months, I’ve shared details about the love-hate relationship I’ve formed with this language since being introduced to it in October. It hasn’t come as naturally to me as SQL did when learning for my old database role. I’ve struggled to use it for analysis, data mining and machine learning, and have regularly found myself trying to unpick vague error messages.

But things have improved since focusing on a new positive mindset late last year. I might still need a little help from Google every now and again to figure out what a specific function does, but I’m enjoying being able to look at the general structure now and feel comfortable. Since January’s time series analysis training, I’ve been able to put together the start of a Python project for my portfolio.

I mentioned in my last update that my enthusiasm for February’s hackathon had been dampened by my previous experience back in September. Fortunately, I was lucky enough to be grouped with three great people this time around. The fact we arrived at the end of the day having found no useful correlation between our datasets didn’t matter at all. It was just lovely being able to work with others took the time to listen to their teammates and discuss any problems found.

The data side of the apprenticeship has been interesting, but the most rewarding thing to come out of it so far has been the chance to help fellow apprentices.

Instead of being in a group where someone wanted to define themselves as a leader, it was clear these people wanted to work together. And that inspired me – I think it ties in with my discovery in January’s update. The data side of the apprenticeship has been interesting, but the most rewarding thing to come out of it so far has been the chance to help fellow apprentices. Going into it in March last year, I hadn’t placed any importance on this element of the course whatsoever.

This is something I spoke to my manager about during my annual appraisal a couple of weeks ago. After mentioning I was enjoying the opportunities to mentor others, we discussed future possibilities about managing and training teams. I also said something in passing to the events coordinator for the apprenticeship company during an after-work event recently. He told me that alumni are still able to apply to be mentors to new apprentices, so it’s something I’m considering for after my training ends.

To get there first though, I must finish my portfolio. This consists of several projects which show evidence of around twenty knowledge, skill and behaviour (KSB) standards. Two are finished already, one I need to finish writing up this week and the last is still in the planning stages. I’m making good progress so I’m not overly worried but sometimes it can be difficult to fit in the work, particularly when quiet time is needed for coding. The portfolio is required to get me what’s known as ‘gateway’.

After that, there’s a single project I must work on for around a day a week for two months. This will then be reviewed during an end point assessment (EPA) with an independent assessor. My recent work on improving my public-speaking is helping give me more confidence so I’m not too concerned about the interview side of the EPA right now. The thing that’s worrying me is that I still have no idea for the subject for this final project. At least I’ve still got another month to think about it.

After running myself into the ground last summer, the current situation is so completely different – I feel like a changed person.

I’m just surprised at how unstressed I am about the whole thing. After running myself into the ground with the apprenticeship and work back last summer, the current situation is so completely different – I feel like a changed person. While I can’t say I now love data so much that I’m going to quit my day-job and become an analyst, but I’m enjoying the learning and community aspect of the experience. It’s definitely going to be something I miss once the apprenticeship is over.

I’m still hoping my current Service Management Improvement Lead role is made permanent when it finishes in November. It feels like everyone is pleased with progress so far and I’ve received good feedback; and in my appraisal, my manager confided that the only way it wouldn’t happen would be down to budget. But I’ve been at my workplace long enough to know that nothing is guaranteed. But I’m certain there’s no way I can return to treading water with databases now because I’m enjoying myself with IT service management (ITSM) too much.

I think our final session with our apprenticeship coaches is due to take place at the end of March. We’re due to discuss Big Data, reflect on what we’ve covered during the programme and start preparing for the EPA. Hopefully by that time, I’ll be able to tell you that my portfolio is finished and I’m ready for what comes next.

About Author /

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


  • WCRobinson
    4 weeks ago Reply

    Sounds like this continues to be very fulfilling! Good to hear it’s helpful for public speaking and confidence too; I’ve found that you gain that confidence before you even realise it, and suddenly it’s easier (if still scary) to stand up in front of people. Definitely comes from experience, like tearing off a band-aid, aha… !

    • Kim
      4 weeks ago Reply

      I think the thing which has surprised me most is that I get more nervous around people I know. Speaking at an event for other apprentices, none of whom I’d met before, was fine… but I was shaking during a presentation to my department last week! I guess I need more practice and band-aid ripping. 😉

      • WCRobinson
        3 weeks ago Reply

        That makes sense – when you’re around people you don’t know, there’s less risk of having to confront their responses directly, but when they’re your fellow peers, you’ve got that stronger connection. Either way I don’t think I’ve met anyone who doesn’t get nervous about public speaking, so you’re not the only one!

        • Kim
          3 weeks ago Reply

          Any tips? As long as it’s not the whole ‘picture your audience naked’ thing! ha ha

          • WCRobinson
            3 weeks ago Reply

            Not sure I’m qualified to give advice, but I suppose I’ve increasingly realised that the people you present to are probably as self-critical as you are, and aren’t looking for you to fail – probably the opposite, they want you to do well. I remember in high school, anything in front of class seemed like this looming end-of-the-world thing, but it always comes and goes before you know it, so it often isn’t worth being too worried about.

            Having said all that, I’m definitely an over-thinker, so I’ve still got a ways to go in training myself to do these things!

            • Kim
              3 weeks ago Reply

              I appreciate the advice! When you’re standing up in a room full of people, it can be difficult to remember that they’d likely feel the same as you if your positions were switched. I’ll try and keep this tip in mind for the next presentation, thank you. 🙂

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