INSPIRING APPRENTICES - INTERVIEW WITH DAN

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By Miranda Reilly 
Dan Pull, Network Operations Technician at University of Oxford IT Services

Dan knew he wanted to work in IT after he left school but wasn’t sure which area to go into. He completed a Network Operations apprenticeship with the University of Oxford’s IT Services from 2014-2016 and now works full time there as a Network Operations Technician. 


·         When did you do your apprenticeship and what do you do now?
I started my apprenticeship in 2014 and finished last year. I work in the same team now full time. I was a Network Operations Apprentice, and I’m now a Network Operations Technician.

·         What did your internship consist of?
I spent a couple hours a day on coursework, and I was assessed once a month. The coursework was a general mixture of learning about software and hardware, databases, fault finding, cabling – so it gave me background knowledge. But the work was mainly network based.

·         And what do you do in your current job?
Mainly networks, lots of cabling around the city, power, UPS batteries, network switches, configurance switches, fibre optic connections.  

·         Did you always want to go into IT, or did you look into other careers?
I definitely wanted to go into IT, but I wasn’t sure which part of it. Originally, I wouldn’t have said networking – I was looking at design, I had a bit of experience in school with that. Maybe in the future I’ll still go into design.

·         What were you doing before you started the apprenticeship?
I finished my GCSEs, did my first year of A-levels then went straight into the apprenticeship after that – so I left school at seventeen. I didn’t want to go to uni, so I didn’t feel that finishing my A-levels would help, so I looked around for apprenticeships and signed up.
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·         Is your team small, and do you like your team’s size?
It is a small team, which is good. Our team is about six or seven people, and since I started only one person has left because of retirement, so I know everyone.

·         Are the people in your department a similar age to you or older?
There’s a variety of ages, a couple are in their late 20s or early 30s, a few in their 40s, 50s.

·         That’s quite a change from school where you’re surrounded by people the same age as you, would you prefer working with younger people?
I’ve found it better working with older people – they’ve been in the business a long time, so they know what they’re doing and can transfer their knowledge to me.
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·         How did you find the apprenticeship overall?
I definitely enjoyed it, it was the right choice for me once I left school and I would recommend it to everyone. The pay is good, and there’s a wide variety of departments you can work in. 

·         What has been the most challenging in your apprenticeship and job?
The changeover from going from school to a full-time job, while doing a course as well, was quite daunting, but after a few months I got used to it.

·         Did doing an apprenticeship help with that transition?
Yeah, the apprenticeship helped: I had a few days off work, and a few months on a college course.
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·         Do you have any plans for the future?
I’m happy where I am for the moment, maybe in a few years I might go to one of the colleges [at Oxford], and work in IT there. But I’m happy right now with my department: it’s centralised, so I get to see the whole university instead of one specific place. I see a different building every day in my work.

·         Are there any buildings you particularly enjoy working with?
I enjoy working with the libraries – there are such old buildings.
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·         Do you have any hobbies outside of your work?
I play cricket during the summers, cycle quite a lot and hang out with my friends mostly. 

·         Finally, what's your advice for students considering apprenticeships?
Look around at apprenticeships, make sure it’s something you definitely want to do, something that you can see yourself doing in the future, and that you can get qualifications out of.

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