Interview with Lillie Tedder, Degree Apprentice at BT
Name: Lillie Tedder
Job title: Degree Apprentice IT–TV
What inspired you to apply for the apprenticeship?
I was studying networks at college and really enjoyed that part of my course as it was incredibly hands on. That’s what pushed me to research apprenticeships in this field, as I knew I’d enjoy it.
Where did you see it advertised?
I had a look on various apprenticeship sites, and was looking quite often to see what came up. I then extended my search and looked on company websites. It took me a bit of time, but I eventually found some that I liked. BT’s apprenticeship scheme looked exactly like the sort of thing I was after, especially given my love of networks. I found my current apprenticeship and here I am!
What was the application process like? Did you have an interview? How long did it take?
I applied in December 2014 and I was offered the job in May 2015. I then started in a role later, in October. There was a general application form with a few questions about my personal details and I was also asked to upload a CV. Then, there were a few questions related to situations, asking me what I would do. These reflected situations you may find yourself in, given the role. You need to think in context, which is good practice for what you might experience in the job itself, if you were successful. The next bit involved a group interview, with roughly six other people who had been put forward, for the Hub Day. You’re required to work as a team to complete a group exercise, and then given the chance to present to a panel something you’re passionate about. I chose a piece of my ICT coursework, as I thought it would show off best what I really liked doing. Then I had a one-on-one interview, asking me about my skills and to ensure I was the right fit for the role.
What does a typical day look like? Who do you work most closely with and what sort of tasks do you do?
At BT, you work in different areas all the time, as there are many different teams involved in a project. Your first three years of a degree course are spent working in all sorts of areas, and you finalise your choice in your third year. Then, you stay in this team for the last year of your apprenticeship. In this scheme, based at BT Tower, we rotate in different departments where we get a feel for all areas within TV. In all the departments you are assigned a buddy (a team mate) to guide you through at first, until you feel comfortable in your role.
You meet all sorts of people – from project managers to network management engineers – where they place alarms on kit and test resilience. When working on a project you get to know other members of different teams, and the important part they play in providing BT’s service. As an apprentice I think it’s really good to get involved in a project as you understand and appreciate everyone’s role and work. The people you work with varies with the kind of projects you take on. I also work with a lot of the other BT apprentices, which is really nice – we’ve got a great network at our fingertips. As well as our day job we do a lot of volunteering, so we attend careers fairs and arrange work experience.
What do you think you’ve learnt from your apprenticeship?
I really think it’s taught me a lot about working with different people, on different tasks, and managing my time. I think that, because of the amount of presentations and group work I’ve had to do, I’ve seen my confidence increase, which is really great. When I first joined, I found speaking in front of a group of people pretty hard, but now, I thoroughly enjoy it. I’ve also worked with the team on previous traineeship schemes and currently on the digital skills scheme, which I am now running. These schemes give young adults the skills and confidence to help find jobs they love; it definitely feels nice to give something back. I’ve seen my team’s work on TV projects have a huge effect on the service itself, which makes me incredibly proud.
What advice would you give to people looking to apply?
Believe in yourself and your ability, you have to be your own cheerleader to make it work! Don’t get too disheartened if you don’t make the cut first time round, try to turn a ‘no’ into a positive and ask for feedback. I think it’s always good to know where you went wrong, and to then put that into practice later on. On a similar note, if people have taken a while to get back to you, don’t be afraid to drop them an email or give them a call – I think it shows you’re interested!
What did you study at school?
I did all the standard GCSEs, and also took a double ICT, Sport and Business. I think my ICT is coming in handy for my current role on the helpdesk.
Did your parents influence your decision in any kind of way?
Not really, but my brother took out an apprenticeship before me and is now a qualified electrician, so I think they were aware of what an apprenticeship can do for you. My mum gave me some sound advice: ‘Choose what you’re going to love’.
Did your parents have any reservations about apprenticeships at all?
Not at all about the apprenticeship itself, but rather about the looming deadline. I think because I applied a bit later in the year in comparison to university applications, we all thought it was a bit tight. But I’m so glad it worked out in the end!