University and Apprenticeships : The different paths to successful careers

This post aims to inform you of two different routes to a long, successful career as an IT professional, Education and Apprenticeships;  and how Microsoft support both paths.

Recently when I was working at The Skills Show, I had many  interesting young people asking me about my story and how I came to be where I currently am in my life.

So, here goes:

When I was younger, I went to a good school, a selective school; but I never really took to it, so never really enjoyed it. As soon as I was able to, I left school, left home and got a full time job. At the time, it was wonderful, I had no commitments, more money than my peers and best of all, no homework!

After nearly two years of this though, it became obvious that I was never going to progress any further in the job I was doing, I could see all my friends finishing college/sixth form and planning to move away to University; and something clicked into place. I instantly set about looking at college courses and getting back on the education ladder, with me having been building computers from a young age, and having my first programming experience at 15, IT was the way to go.

I applied at my local college to do a Btech in IT, I was asked to come in for an interview and to bring a portfolio, so I did. My portfolio showed some simple C# programs I’d written, a calculator for example; when the person interviewing me saw this, he suggested that I skip the Btec and apply for their HND in Computer Science, and he’d back me onto it. This meant I was skipping two years out of my education!

The HND I started studying for was run jointly by Lincoln College and The University of Lincoln, they had a scheme in place, that anyone who successfully completed their HND could transfer to The University for an extra year to top the HND up to a Bachelors Degree. After achieving a Merit in my HND, I took up this option.

University gave me a new lease of life, the environment, the staff and the opportunities gave me my spark back that I’d started to lose towards the end of my HND. I enjoyed my 3rd year so much, that I started to look into Masters courses. After asking around, I was told I could transfer onto a relatively new type of degree program, an MComp. This is basically, an Undergraduate Masters degree, so therefore covered by the student loan company. I started studying for that this September just gone, and I’m thoroughly enjoying it.

Throughout my (second spell of) Education, Microsoft have supported me all the way, first of all with the DreamSpark program that I’ve mentioned before, providing a suite of industry level software for free! Also, secondly through the Microsoft Student Partner program, giving me access to industry professionals and the opportunity to work at large scale evangelism events; Campus Party, Skills Show, Skills London etc.  A lot of people don’t recognise it, but they’re a great company who are massively behind supporting the next generation of IT employees!

As you can tell, I don’t have the ‘typical’ student story, having those two years out working has given me some real world insight and life skills, this has given me  a lot of motivation to do well in my degree in the hope of getting a better job and having a successful career! Without that time out of the system, I don’t think I’d be anywhere near where I am today.

Also whilst I was working at The Skills Show, I had the pleasure of working with some of the Microsoft Apprentices; Joshua Uwadiae was one of them. Joshua’s enthusiasm, personality and ability to engage with the students really impressed me whilst we were there, he’s a great ambassador for the apprentice scheme. So as soon as the event was over, I asked him if he’d be interested in writing up his experiences for me as part of a joint blog post, luckily he said yes!


This, is Joshua’s story:

“My journey into the IT sector isn’t the cliché story of coding before I could talk and building computers before I could walk. Growing up I never actually had much of an interest in computers, nor did I ever imagine myself working within the IT sector.

Funnily enough I always seemed to be the IT technician within my family as I would be the one to installs modems  and fix computer issues but I never thought about a Career in IT. In secondary school I wasn’t interested in education either and to keep the story short I was expelled at the start of my final year. I managed to get back into education through college and this is when I decided to study IT.

I enrolled in college with the aim of doing a three year IT course but during the second year the Microsoft apprenticeship program was introduced to me. The thought of “learning and working” instead of to simply studying in college for a qualification that wasn’t directly impacting my future was irresistible.

I personally didn’t want to go to university as I wasn’t a fan of academic learning, I was getting high grades in college but it just didn’t appeal to me! I then began to research the prerequisites for entry level IT roles and on comparing It to the modules I was studying in college they weren’t sufficient to land me a job but the IT apprenticeship course content exceeded their requirements.

After my second year of a three year course I left college and started the Microsoft systems and networking level 3 apprenticeship working for a company called eCourier, It was the perfect kick start to my IT career and about eight months into my apprenticeship I was awarded the Microsoft apprentice of the year runners up, at the House of commons.

I am now working permanently for eCourier as an IT Support analyst and working for Microsoft as an apprentice ambassador to help promote careers in IT and apprenticeships. I am also Microsoft certified and this all looks great on my CV.

Microsoft has truly changed the direction of my future through the apprenticeship scheme! When writing this I realised that if I did decide to finish college and go to university I would of just started studying about two months ago! For me, solely education can’t compare to the success I have experienced within such a short space of time!

All I an say is thanks Microsoft for the apprenticeship programme and opportunity to turn my childhood mistake to adolescent success.  “

Josh is just one of many success stories the Microsoft Apprenticeship Scheme has produced; but the traditional route via education and University is still just as viable as it’s always been, the two routes are just suited to different types of people at different times in their lives, the choice is completely up to you and we hope this blog has helped to give you some insightful information to aid your decision.

For more info on the items mentioned in the article, links are provided below:

Microsoft Apprenticeships 


Microsoft Student Partners


Many thanks to Joshua for his content in this post.




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