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Apprentice Guide: How to Impress IT Employers

This week (3-7 February) is National Apprenticeship Week 2020.  Dogsbody Technology have been hiring IT apprentices since 2013 and have seen A LOT of apprentice CV’s in that time!

It still surprises us that applicants don’t sell themselves well, and is one of the biggest reasons we still give telephone interviews to a vast majority of the CV’s we get sent.

Let us help you a little with our guide on how to impress an IT employer like ourselves…

Apprentices

Be more than just grades

Some people are academic and some people aren’t… apprenticeships are designed for people who can’t or don’t want to go to university (and let’s not even mention the minimum 27K debt for university graduates). At Dogsbody we are not just interested in a list of good grades; we want to see and hear about the things you are passionate about, what you have taught yourself, what you have done outside of education! It’s key to find things that keep you interested and just “play” with as much tech as you can 🙂

I set this company up to play with big servers and big infrastructure so why not get paid to do it … the best staff are the ones that just want to play with technology too. We come to work to play.
– Dan Benton, Director of Dogsbody Technology

Raspberry Pi & Arduino

There is so much affordable tech out there right now. Raspberry Pi and Arduino are at the forefront where you can get a fully working system for £15-45. With them you can learn everything from Linux internals, Python programming or Game design.

At Dogsbody HQ we are big fans of Raspberry Pi (we have 4-5 around the office doing a variety of jobs). It’s an awesome tool for people to learn as it’s cheap, powerful and, of course, open source.  There is a great index of projects that should be a great source of inspiration.

Arduino allows you to learn I/O based programming with ease. We designed a pizza order printer for one of our first customers using Arduino that is still in use to this day.  More examples can be found on their projects page.

Magazine, Blogs and news

Access to information has never been easier (back in my day we had a copy of Microsoft Encarta and were grateful 😉 ). Youtube, podcasts and free online courses mean you can learn anything you want for free off your own back.

We specifically recommend Raspberry Pi blog and their magazines, MagPi, Wireframe and HackSpace magazines which you can buy in the shops but are also totally free to download!

You’ll be amazed at what you can learn for free in your spare time.

Hacker Space / Maker Groups

A hackerspace (also referred to as a hacklab, hackspace, or makerspace) is a community-operated, often “not for profit” , workspace where people with common interests, such as computers, machining, technology, science, digital art, or electronic art, can meet, socialize and collaborate.

Check out your local maker spaces and any local after school or college clubs (they don’t usually have to be your school or college). A quick google should show you what is in your area but we particularly recommend checking out Code Club and CoderDojo. A great way to try new things, make friends with like minded people and find out what really interests you with little investment.

Of course if you want to go full geek – we highly recommend Glastonbury for Geeks – EMF Camp.

Fancy a career in Linux IT? Take a look at our our jobs page for our current openings.

Also check out our open letter to future apprentices to see more way to impress us or other employers.

Welcome Ashley

Ashley is our latest apprentice to join us here at Dogsbody HQ.Ashley Holland

Having found the time to complete an Open University course achieving a CertHE (Certificate of higher education) in Natural Sciences – Physics (including mathematics), she shows a passion for learning we love in our apprentices.

Ashley said…

‘I watched the film The Theory of Everything and the next day signed up for my OU course.’

With a love of LEGO (she is in good company here), a passion for customer service and a fantastic planning schedule (she loves a highlighted plan), there is no stopping Ashley accomplishing her goals!. We can’t wait to see how Ashley grows.

Ashley will be working towards her IT Infrastructure Technician Level 3 qualification whilst helping the team with first line support and server maintenance. Do say hello should you talk to her.

Want to be our next Apprentice? We have just launched our 4 year Level 6 Qualification allowing you to get a degree without going to university as well as getting paid!

 

Feature image by James Pond licence free

Proud to be part of the FSB Apprenticeship Report

One of the great benefits of being a member of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) is it gives you a chance to be heard. This has been especially true of their representation of business owners with apprentices such as ourselves.  I am proud to have been interviewed extensively for the latest FSB research into the new apprenticeship system.

The apprenticeship system has changed a lot in the last 7 years that we’ve been offering them.  Most have been good changes but implemented quite badly.  For example, the implementation of an independent end point assessment is a great initiative as it really helps stop both companies and training providers from abusing the apprenticeship system for cheap labour; however details of what the assessment should involve, who would provide it and how much it should cost weren’t available from the government when some people (one of our staff included) where already starting their apprenticeship.

The latest in depth study conducted by the FSB into the new apprenticeship system includes a 50 page “Fit for the future” report. A number of businesses were interviewed for this report including myself and other Dogsbody Technology staff.  You can find quotes from us on pages 26, 30 and 36 should you wish 😉

fsb apprenticeships report infographicSome of the results are pretty damning, such as over a quarter of businesses saying that the reforms have had a negative impact on their business and over a third of businesses not being aware of some of the funding that is available.  We shouldn’t be too quick to throw the baby out with the bathwater though.  The apprenticeship system is still fit for purpose, it just could be a better fit, especially for small businesses.

We have only scratched the surface of the report.  I would encourage you to read the full report if you have time.

On the off chance you don’t have time to read the full report I have summarised the conclusions here…

  1. Small businesses are crucial to driving productivity across the country and require skills that will enable them to prosper.
  2. Small businesses are heavily reliant on the Level 2 and 3 frameworks meaning that the number of apprenticeships offered by small businesses may further decrease in the next couple of years.
  3. The cost of delivering apprenticeships in small businesses has also increased, which has had an impact on the capacity of small businesses to hire apprentices.
  4. There has been a deterioration in the quality of training and assessment provision across England.
  5. There are legitimate concerns about the future of the apprenticeship funding system, given that standards are more expensive than frameworks.
  6. There are significant risks that the situation will worsen as the apprenticeship system evolves.

If you are a small tech business thinking of taking on apprentices then do get in touch, we would love help you get started.

Vim tips

Welcome Chris Gray

Dogsbody Technology are passionate about Apprenticeships, providing a new career opportunity to people and promoting an alternative to University for those leaving college.

Chris Gray is Dogsbody Technology’s latest (and 6th) Linux Systems Apprentice to join our team.

Previously working in the service industry. Chris joins us having networked his entire house. He also helps out with the Scouts – just like our former apprentice Gary! Very handy when we go to events such as EMF Camp.

Chris will be working towards his City & Guilds Certificate in IT Systems and Principles and Level 3 Diploma in IT Professional Competence with a lot of hands on training, he has already built 3 Linux training servers as well as looking after first line support and taking on some fun projects to help him learn.

Want to be our 7th Apprentice? Joining a company with a proven record of providing excellent hands on Linux training with great career prospects and earning money whilst you do?!

APPLY TODAY

 

Open letter to future apprentices

Here at Dogsbody HQ we have found one of the the best ways to grow our business and get the skills we require is to run an apprenticeship programme.

We interview throughout the year looking for the keenest candidates. Having hired 7 apprentices over the past 5 years and interviewed many many more we thought we would share with all our future employees what we take away from your first impressions.

The world of work can be a scary prospect and completely different to your school and college days.

Your first full time position and the steps to secure it can be daunting so here are some hints and tips for what we at Dogsbody Technology like to look for in our candidates:

Submitting your CV

You have found the job you want and are ready to submit your CV – The first impressions start from this moment so:

  • Submit your CV in PDF; It means your prospect employers sees it the way you intended – send it in .doc or .odt and it can lose its formatting.
  • Use an appropriate email address; bigcheeks@example.com may have been appropriate for your Amazon account but not for your CV. Email addresses are free, get an appropriate one.
  • Switch on your Voicemail; If you’re busy and I call, how do you know I will bother calling back?  Which leads me to my second point…
  • Set a Voicemail message – If the default VM message is just your number how do I know I have reached the correct person? Make sure you set a message like ‘you have reached the mobile of (you). Please leave a message’.
  • Answer your phone politely; I know ‘unknown to you’ numbers could be spam but when you’re applying for jobs you have to answer the phone as if it’s your future employer! If you want to be extra organised put the office number of the companies you applied to in your phone so it hopefully comes up ‘Dogsbody Technology’ but never answer the phone ‘yes’… not a great first impression…

Impressing in a CV or interview (telephone or face to face)

It’s potentially your first full time job (but we hope you have done something else) so make sure you tell us what you have done – in your CV preferably.

Dogsbody Technology give every applicant a telephone interview… why? Because we once hired someone whose CV never mentioned anything about all of the technical things they had done – it was only in the telephone interview they mentioned them – if we hadn’t called we would’ve never known!

Things to mention

  • Work experience – Work Experience is invaluable – It doesn’t have to be in the field you are applying for a job in now (IT for us) but it shows so much. The classic ‘Saturday job’ is still a strong tick in the box.
  • If you have tinkered with tech – You earn big points if you tinker with tech – get a Raspberry Pi, Install Ubuntu on your laptop, even AWS servers are pennies to run – don’t just follow the guides parrot fashion – Explore, find out what the commands you are typing actually do!  An apprenticeship is about learning on the job and practical experience. When they don’t teach this stuff in school we want to see you are keen to teach/learn yourself.

Things to remember

  • Playing games is not an interest in computers – Sorry but its a hobby, unless you want to be a games developer or games tester than playing computer games is not an interest in computers. We all play computer games at Dogsbody Technology but it doesn’t help us be a Sysadmin 🙂 List it under hobbies.
  • Grades aren’t everything – Your teachers will hate us for saying this however unless you want to be a doctor or have to get specific grades for a college/uni course then if academia isn’t your thing don’t worry. Apprenticeship are designed to be for the practical among us. To do an apprenticeship you need Maths and English at grade C (4 in the new system) or above, but even if you don’t have that you can do a key skill module during your apprenticeship to get you there.

Finally we loved this image from Dave Cornthwaite; add “Good Manners” and we think it a pretty good stating point…

 

Potential is essential  – What we do isn’t taught in schools/college so we don’t expect you to know it all but we do expect you to be passionate about tech.

If you want to join an established company who is an established Apprenticeship provider in Linux Sysadmin then apply now for our proven Linux Apprenticeship

Want more Apprenticeship advise – read our Apprentice Guide: How to Impress IT Employers

 

Congratulations Jim Carter

We are very pleased to congratulate Jim Carter on completing his Linux Systems Apprenticeship.

Jim now holds…

City & Guilds Certificate in IT Systems and Principles
City & Guilds Level 3 Diploma in IT Professional Competence

We are even more pleased that Jim has chosen to continue his career with Dogsbody Technology as a permanent member of staff. Jim is now looking forward to continuing his education with professional qualifications from Amazon Web Services (AWS) and honing his coding skills (we will break his habit of using Python “for” loops for everything).

If you are interested in joining the Dogsbody Technology team as a Linux Systems Apprentice please apply here.

 

Welcome Jim Carter

We are very happy to announce the expansion of Dogsbody Technology with the addition of Jim Carter.

Jim is Dogsbody Technology’s 5th Linux Systems Apprentice and comes with a lot of passion for maths and learning.

Having started studying physics at university Jim decided a Linux Apprenticeship was more for him. He is one of the only applicants to complete one of our hardest interview tests.

Jim will be helping with first line support and maintenance before taking part in projects of increasing levels of complexity (and fun!) as he progresses through his apprenticeship.

When asked what Jim thinks he brings to the company he answered, “a fresh view of computing that hasn’t been clouded by the tyranny of the establishment”.  We think he’ll be quite the engineer! 🙂

We’re still looking for more talented people to join us here, could you be our 6th apprentice? or do you have a skill you think we can use?

 

South East lags behind in youth unemployment

PRESS RELEASE
South East lags behind in youth unemployment

New research out this week shows that the South East is falling behind other parts of the UK in the race to reduce youth unemployment. The study, by consulting firm EY, shows that the South East is now fourth in the league table of regional unemployment, down from second place in 2011.

The disparity in the number of young people in employment is starkest in the region’s key towns and cities, with Southampton, Brighton and Hove and Reading all having youth unemployment rates at higher than the regional average.

But local technology firms are looking to bridge the skills gap that divides young people and prevents them from gaining experience that leads to valuable jobs in the future. Farnborough businesses, Dogsbody Technology and Orcare are both on the hunt for their next apprentice through ApprenticeshipsInFarnborough.com.

Dan Benton, Director of Dogsbody Technology said, “Technology apprenticeships provide a valuable combination of on the job experience and structured learning that enable young people to develop the skills to help drive the growth of small businesses. It’s a real triple win for the apprentice, employer and the learning provider.”

Both Orcare and Dogsbody Technology typically employ school and college leavers with good GCSEs and or A-Levels, but have made a choice to not move onto University.

Advanced Apprenticeships result in qualifications equivalent to A-Levels, and apprentices gain valuable knowledge, skills and experience throughout their apprenticeship, all whilst earning a salary in the region of £150 per week. Alex Meyers, a recent graduate of the Orcare Technology Apprenticeship Programme said, “I was initially attracted by the opportunity to get out into the real world and work on real projects while learning new skills. But now the opportunity to earn a real salary and build up experience has put me in such a strong position in comparison to many people my age.”

The salary potential for someone with a technology apprenticeship and 3 years of experience can be in the region of £30,000, exceeding the average graduate salary.

Paul Marden, Director of Orcare said “In an environment where graduates are taking on astonishing levels of debt and then struggle to access well paid jobs because of an absence of experience, apprenticeships provide a very viable Plan A for young people looking for a route into a technology career.”

The team behind ApprenticeshipsInFarnborough.com are also looking to work with other local apprentice employers to raise the profile of apprenticeships in the local area.

ENDS

Media Contact,
Paul Marden, Director, Orcare Limited. Phone: 01276 817465 / 07796 463728, email: pmarden@orcare.com

Claire Christmas, Project Manager, Dogsbody Technology Ltd. Phone: 01276 818576, email: claire@dogsbodytechnology.com

NOTES TO EDITORS
Apprenticeships in Farnborough (apprenticeshipsinfarnborough.com) is a collaborative campaign to raise aspirations and reduce youth unemployment in Farnborough, enabling businesses to attract local talent.

Orcare Limited (orcare.com) is a Web Design and Digital Marketing Agency based in Farnborough, Hampshire. It specialises in developing easy to use websites that deliver real business benefit using Microsoft technologies to customers across London and the South East.

Dogsbody Technology Ltd. (dogsbodytechnology.com) is a Linux consultancy company based in Farnborough, Hampshire building and maintaining secure, reliable & scalable servers ensuring customers get the best out of technology.

Congratulations Rob Hooper

We are very pleased to congratulate Rob Hooper on completing his Linux Systems Apprenticeship.

Rob now holds…

  • City & Guilds Certificate in IT Systems and Principles
  • City & Guilds Level 3 Diploma in IT Professional Competence

We are even more pleased that Rob has chosen to continue his career with Dogsbody Technology as a permanent member of staff.  Rob is now looking forward to continuing his education with professional qualifications from Amazon Web Services (AWS) and the Linux Foundation.

If you are interested in joining the Dogsbody Technology team as a Linux Systems Apprentice please apply at https://www.dogsbody.com/jobs/

Congratulations Gary Rixon

We are very pleased to congratulate Gary Rixon on completing his Linux Systems Apprenticeship.

Gary now holds…

  • City & Guilds Certificate in IT Systems and Principles
  • City & Guilds Level 3 Diploma in IT Professional Competence

We are even more pleased that Gary has chosen to continue his career with Dogsbody Technology as a permanent member of staff.  Gary is now looking forward to continuing his education with professional qualifications from Amazon Web Services (AWS) and the Linux Foundation.

If you are interested in joining the Dogsbody Technology team as a Linux Systems Apprentice please apply at https://www.dogsbody.com/jobs/