Tom Woolford

Tell us a little bit about you?

My name is Tom Woolford, I'm a 20-year-old Rotational Degree Apprentice currently with IBM and studying at Pearson College London. Straight out of A-Levels I moved out to Paris to work for WPP on my first rotation, and now I'm back living in London. Outside of work I often compete in martial arts, and I'm an avid rock climber.

What are you studying?

BA (Hons) Business Management

Where are you working?

For my first year I was with WPP in Paris, working as a marketing consultant.

Since then I've worked at IBM in London, first as a Blockchain Consultant, and now more recently as a Cloud Sales Specialist. These IBM roles require a lot of client interaction and negotiation, along with a relatively strong technical understanding.

This means its challenging, but pretty exciting.

Why did you choose a Degree Apprenticeship?

The obvious reasons I chose a degree apprenticeship include the money, no student loan, and the degree + work experience. However a reason which is often overlooked, is the exposure to so many people from varying ages, roles, locations and levels of experience. This exposure to others is indispensable, especially so early on in my career, and I can say I've learned enormous amounts from them.

What have you enjoyed most about your course?

I've already alluded that I appreciate the exposure to people, and this includes at university on the course. Different degree apprentices bring their own experiences to seminars, enriching everyone's learning, and making discussions much more insightful.

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

It sounds existential but understanding that there's no rush. As an early professional, I'm the youngest in my team by several years, yet I'm pressuring myself to reach the level of my colleagues as fast as possible, to jump up the career ladder early on. This is great for being focussed on progression, but it's also important to remember that you can take your time, learn from others and benefit from having so many people to aspire to.

How has your work placement helped with your studies?

I've always said, if I went to university, I would struggle with a work ethic. However, working a full-time job, with manager, colleague and personal expectations, forces you to have a good work ethic. You work hard at your job and push for success, and therefore that naturally flows into your university work. As such, to a point, I'm probably struggling less with the degree now than I would have at university, because I've quickly developed better time-management and other skills to help me adapt to the increased workload.

Do you have any advice for anyone applying for a degree apprenticeship?

Show as much passion as possible. At the end of the day, employers and interviewers are looking for someone who would be worth their investment, both time and money. The way you can show that is showing excitement, interest and genuine passion for beginning this journey.