The first 12 months in a new role is a crucial time full of learning, building new relationships and establishing yourself within a business or organisation.
Sam, Associate Test Engineer at DWP Digital, recently told us about his journey into the role and how the first year has gone so far as part of National Apprenticeship Week.
Company: DWP Digital
Job Title: Associate Test Engineer
What's your professional background and interests?
I’ve enjoyed a varied background professionally, ranging from working at a violin shop to my previous role as a Universal Credit Team Leader in a local Service Centre. I went to the University of Central Lancashire where I completed a business degree – I’ve always been keen to continue learning and developing myself in whatever I do, both professionally and personally.
What attracted you to this role and company?
I’ve worked at DWP for a few years now, working on the frontline mainly within the Universal Credit benefit system. I really enjoy working for a government department and I was interested to move into DWP Digital. This apprenticeship was an opportunity to learn something completely new and exciting, while continuing to contribute to supporting our customers.
What does a typical day look like?
A typical day starts with a team meeting, we share updates on ongoing projects. These meetings provide an opportunity to learn best practice from each other and also work collaboratively to solve current problems. Throughout the day, I will work through tickets that have been assigned to me, liaising with stakeholders and other members of my team. The team I work in sits within the Tech Services function and our work focuses on user accessibility testing of software used by DWP colleagues.
Each week I have a day for learning as part of my apprenticeship. This can include updating a weekly diary which documents my learning journey or completing extra learning. A large part of my apprenticeship is creating a portfolio of evidence which demonstrates the wide range of knowledge and skills I’m gaining. I find having this dedicated time for my apprenticeship really useful, I can reflect on what I’ve done within the week and which areas would benefit from further development.
What are the key challenges in your role?
In terms of challenges within the role, I sometimes find myself testing software that I’ve not come across before. This presents me with the opportunity to learn and fully understand something new through reviewing documentation in the ticket and working with colleagues who have knowledge of what is being tested. As a result, I can confidently liaise with stakeholders and discuss any issues that arise.
What has surprised you most in the last 12 months?
The sheer variety of things to learn within the role and the interesting work being done across DWP Digital.
As mentioned, I complete a portfolio of evidence which demonstrates the wide range of knowledge and skills I have and will be developing. This means I’m fortunate enough to get the opportunity to experience many different aspects of software testing as part of my apprenticeship journey.
What are the best bits about the role?
There is always so much to learn and always a passionate colleague willing to help by sharing their experience. I love to feel like I am developing myself and my skills and, in my role, there is plenty of opportunity to do that.
How would you describe the company culture?
Forward thinking, empowering, welcoming and supportive.
Can you share details of one project/achievement you are most proud of since starting in this role?
I recently completed a project for testing the accessibility of software used within DWP Digital. It was something I hadn’t done outside of a learning bootcamp before, so I was able to apply my skills on a real project. It presented me with lots of interesting challenges, but with the help of colleagues I successfully completed the testing and wrote a report to summarise my findings. This was shared with the third-party company who made the software, highlighting areas I found where changes could be made to improve the accessibility for all users. It was exciting to contribute to improving the experience for users of the software in future.
I also received positive feedback from the rest of the team. It was the first big piece of work I’d been allocated to complete on my own, so it was great to hear it was useful and see the impact it had.
If you're interested in an apprenticeship, visit the DWP Digital careers site