My last update was posted shortly after the final assessment for my apprenticeship.
I’d spent two hours in a conference call discussing the previous 18-months spent on the Data Fellowship with an independent assessor. Although I’d been quite stressed in the lead-up to the interview, it went pretty smoothly and I was able to answer all the questions asked.
It was hard to relax afterwards though. My body had been so highly strung for the past week that it was difficult to sit still, and I spent the afternoon in a daze because I didn’t know what to do with myself. I managed to snap out of it over the following weekend though. Pete took me out for a celebratory drink at a nearby bar and I played a few hours of The Elder Scrolls Online (ESO) with the stepkid.
Around a week later, I was finishing up an evening run when I received a short message from my boss. It’s rare that she contacts me outside of working hours so I knew it must be something important. It told me that there was an important email waiting for me – and I knew immediately that it must be my result. I dragged myself home as quickly as possible and turned on my laptop.
I’m very pleased to report that I passed and even managed to score a nice little merit on top as a bonus. Although I’ve been involved in reporting in one way or another for most of my IT career, I’d never had any formal data training before the apprenticeship; and I’d struggled with the Python modules for longer than expected, despite having some familiarity with coding. It was therefore a huge relief to see that email and find out I’m now a Level 4 Data Analyst.
So, what’s next on the agenda? As mentioned in my last update, I’ve been speaking to my company about starting the next level of the apprenticeship by the end of 2023. This would involve another two years of work (and a lot more Python) but does mean I’ll hopefully gain a Digital and Technology Solutions degree. A meeting last week with my boss, a human resources (HR) director and the account executive from the apprenticeship company was positive. I’m now waiting to receive the application link so I can apply.
This new apprenticeship covers subjects which would be both useful and interesting, along with several which are relevant to projects currently being planned at my workplace. For example, there has been a big push on cybersecurity recently and this would be covered in the first three months; and it would be followed by DevOps, a methodology we’re already using to some extent. Having the opportunity to go further into data engineering and machine learning (ML) is also rather appealing.
There’s something that worries me though. The Advanced Data Fellowship (ADF) requires 20 hours of data analysis a week along with 7.5 hours of self-study, as well as attending monthly training sessions and coaching workshops. There are also several other requirements such as involvement in meetups and activities with other apprentices. This is far more work than what was needed for the Data Fellowship and it would all be taking place alongside my day-job.
It’s possible that my role will change soon too. After switching paths from a Database Engineer to a 12-month secondment as Service Management Improvement Lead last November, talks about what lies ahead are now taking place. The good news is that my boss is pleased with the progress made and sees the need to continue the function I’ve been leading. She has raised the possibility of me taking on more staff, increased responsibility and a wider remit.
But the bad news is that this coincides with the ADF. On top of work and the apprenticeship, there are several other things I’m involved in which take up my available hours too. Pete and I need to start streaming more regularly now that we have our initial plans for GameBlast24. The weekly distances needed for the London Marathon training are increasing. We’re also due to restart our Shadowrun sessions with The Lawful Geek this month, and return to our weekly gaming nights with Ellen from Strength in Sarcasm and friend-of-the-blog Phil.
I need to figure out how I’m going to fit everything in. I’m very aware that I’ll need to prioritise, and there’s a chance that several things will need to be dropped into order to create the time and space needed for the apprenticeship and my new role. There’s time to think about all this though while I wait for the application link but things will move quickly once I hit the apply button. The apprenticeship company has advised that their decision would be made within a week and the ADF would then start in December.
If anyone reading this has any advice or thoughts on what they’d do in this situation, please do let me know. Hearing opinions often helps me figure out what it is that I really want and the right direction to go in. While I mull everything over, I’ve started to work on a small side project involving Python and my Steam wishlist. This has become full to the point where it’s almost useless so I’m trying to create a predictive model which will tell me which games to keep and which to remove, based on what I’m likely to end up playing.
I’ll share a post once I’ve got the data I need and have managed to get a working model. And hopefully by that time, I’ll know what I’m doing about the ADF.