Sophia Kyriacou

Tell us a little bit about you?

My name is Sophia and I am 19 years old. I joined IBM straight after my A levels and worked as a Level 4 Business apprentice, before I applied for the Business Degree Apprenticeship.

What are you studying?

I am studying Business Management at university and attending seminars once a week whilst watching my lectures online, in the comfort of my home.

Where are you working?

I am currently working at IBM and have been here for just over a year and a half - I am really looking forward to my next placement's where I will get the chance to explore different working environments as IBM has been my first and only employer.

Why did you choose a Degree Apprenticeship?

In year 13, when every sixth form student is contemplating which university to go to, I knew I didn't want to go to full time university and especially did not want to pursue a career in the subjects I had chosen as my A-level subjects. Although I applied to university as a back up option, I applied to many apprenticeships too. I believe apprenticeships provide you with the opportunities to achieve higher education and qualifications as well as work experience. On top of that, you get paid to learn - who doesn't like that?

In September 2015 I started working as an apprentice at IBM. I had heard about the technical degree apprenticeships available at IBM, but I really wanted to stay on a business career path. 10 months into my course and working at IBM, I found out about the Business Degree apprenticeship that IBM are working with Pearson and other top companies and I really wanted to be part of it. Getting a degree and working at the same time with all the employee AND apprenticeship benefits was the most ideal for me and the reason for choosing to apply for this scheme. I have had great support from work (IBM) and Pearson, which leads me to believe that I made the right choice.

What have you enjoyed most about your course?

Apart from the learning opportunities we have available to us, I really like our group learning sizes. There are about 10 of us on the RDA (Rotational Degree Apprenticeship) scheme and we have built such a nice and strong bond it feels like we are our own little family. Relationships are really key to your success in both student life and work life as you know you will enjoy it and have support from those around you when you all get along well.

What have you learnt so far, during your work placement?

As IBM has been my first employer, I have learnt pretty much everything from scratch, IBM specific and not; how the business works, about the company, about our clients, responsibilities in the workplace, specific processes, finances and contracts and much much more. Yet, the one thing I was most surprised to learn was excel. I hadn't done much work with excel since year 9, but since joining IBM I have learnt so much, from basic formulae to writing and editing macros. I have developed my skills so much that I am actually teaching others now.

How has your placement helped you with your studies?

Despite having learnt so much since joining IBM, studying business management at university allows me to understand why things happen and how and in what ways can we improve ourselves as individuals and a team or our work. I think learning something and applying it to real life situations soon after is the best way to not only experiment and see what method or subject you like best (which you may want to specialise in in the future for your career), but also to remember it so well, it becomes a second nature or an instinct at work. This learning method, has never failed me.