Ryan started his apprenticeship in May 2021. He is now a Quality Engineer at Flooid.
What have you enjoyed most about the apprenticeship?
The journey from when I started has been extremely exciting. I’ve had the pleasure to work on some excellent projects and the new skills I have picked up and enhanced is incredible. The area I have enjoyed most is getting involved with is automation. Learning and using new technology is so much fun and more importantly, is giving me the training to develop my career towards becoming a SDET.
With regards to the apprenticeship, passing my ISTQB exam with a 95% pass mark! I am delighted with that result.
What real-world projects have you been working on?
I have been involved in projects around creating new customer mobile functions, and error handling for Gift Cards.
What is the best activity/project you have worked on during your apprenticeship?
There are many projects I could name that have been enjoyable. The most recent project I worked on within my team was to implement a cashier age restriction on the sale of age restricted goods (alcohol, tobacco etc). I have been trusted to run the QA side of this on my own which is a fantastic confidence boost. The work has involved me setting up test data, designing tests, executing them, and finally demoing the features to the Product Owner, Technical Owner, and Business Analyst. Following the demo, the project was signed off by the owners and feel this is a great achievement.
I would say the best activity I have been working on is the Placement Project. This was an extra project outside of my normal team. It has given me the opportunity to work on a project from start to finish (we started with an idea and blank canvass) and allowed me to step into different roles such as Product Owner and BA. This is also the project where I have begun to learn automation.
What have been your highlights?
In the first week I was set up with a piece of software and asked to do my best to break it. The young Ryan inside of me was dancing with joy. Initially, a lot of the focus was around setting up environments, learning the apps that I would be working with and testing to uncover bugs. Once the first full user story came into our Sprint, this gave me the opportunity to design real test scripts based on questions I had asked in the BA/QA Dev call and by analysing the BA documents and requirements.
Completing my first set of tests and hearing the feedback that they covered everything they needed to and to a good standard made me realise I was on the right track for the bread-and-butter QA work. That gave me a huge boost.
What new skills have you learned?
My database and server-side knowledge has been the steepest learning curve and one of the most useful skills I have picked up on the technical side. The ability to know where to look when something has gone wrong, or a build has failed enables me to find or suggest a solution.
I completed some courses around SQL which has been hugely beneficial for my day-to-day work and understanding. I have picked up a lot of skills in understanding the devices I use, mainly iPads and Zebra HHTs. I also worked towards my Foundation ISTQB.
What have you found challenging?
I do find that whilst working from home is beneficial, it has also been challenging for me to start up a career in this way. Flooid offer support from every angle and there are teams of people willing to help. As a new starter, it was, at times difficult for me to know who to ask for help though and the isolated nature of working from home can be tough depending on what I’m working on. Post Covid we can now mix in the office and work from home which is better.
Within the job itself, I did find the domain and environment set up challenging at first. With practice and further understanding though I feel much more comfortable.
Are there any team wins that have happened that you can describe?
Our whole team made a massive effort to get a customer data entry story across the line on time. I think we all agreed that a huge collaborative effort, keeping each other informed in real time of progress, issues and blockers made the story a complete success. We delivered on time, and I felt this was a good achievement.
Personally, I conducted my first two demo’s of a feature to product owners and technical owners last week. The demo went well and we received sign off following the demos. This was a good confidence boost for myself.
Now tell us about your experience applying for the apprenticeship …
I applied for this apprenticeship in early February and within one day of sending the application form I received an interview request from Digital Native (the apprenticeship providers). So off to a great start. Following the first interview I was set a work assignment which I worked on over the next few days.
Having passed the work assignment with Digital Native I then met with some of the Flooid team for an initial interview. The final stage was an assessment day (via Teams because of Covid) involving several exercises, a presentation prepared by myself and a final interview. This process was challenging but for good reason…both Flooid and I needed to be sure that I was the right person for this journey.
After this interview I was only waiting one day before I got the call – I had been accepted. It was all worth it!
How did you find the application process overall?
The initial Digital Native assessment I did find challenging, but I thoroughly enjoyed doing it. I had all the resources and support materials available to me to enable me to complete the challenge and it gave me a great insight into the work I would be doing in the role.
The assessments for Flooid on interview day were varied in nature and difficulty. I found the abstract test script to be the most fun.
Did you feel you were well informed in the run up to your apprenticeship?
Yes – at each stage following an interview or assessment I received a call within 48 hours maximum to advise me of the next step. Supporting material and information was sent out each time before the next stage and so I never felt like I was hanging on for information.
Were you nervous before starting your apprenticeship role with Flooid?
All in all, this is a totally new venture for me. I had been in banking for 9 years and a lorry driver for 5 years. Despite teaching myself some coding and working with tech on a near day-to-day basis, this was still a big career change for me, and an apprenticeship is a big commitment. My nerves mirrored my excitement in that this was a new journey with a lot of responsibility but (as I found during the interview stage) if you put the work in, you stand a good chance of being rewarded for it.
How do you feel you have settled into the team?
I couldn’t have asked for a more welcoming team. The lead QA responsible for training me up for my apprenticeship was an absolute wealth of knowledge and gave me a foundation to build on. The mobile work that I do is very technical and uses plenty of devices – so I couldn’t be happier with that!
My mentor has been fantastic. From day one it was clear to me that he cared about my career progression and upskilling me in the right areas. He makes good suggestions and observations and listens to my feedback too during our one to one’s.
What advice would you give to others thinking of applying?
My advice would be to research plenty – understand what the company/apprenticeship is both offering and looking for out of you. If you think you and Flooid are a good match, put everything you have into the application and interview. There is very good competition, and you want to stand out and show that you are the best fit. The application/interview was a long process (around 6 weeks in total) but it was worth every minute of my effort. Even if you are not successful, you will learn a huge amount just by competing the exercises.
Do you have any advice for others considering an apprenticeship at Flooid?
To anyone who has an interest in any aspect of software development and is considering an apprenticeship, I could not recommend Flooid enough!
Both the company and my team are extremely supportive and there is a vast number of interesting and exciting projects to get involved in. I am given time to complete the apprenticeship work, time to work on outside projects and training to develop my skills.
For any considering a QA/QE apprenticeship, my advice would be to get stuck in as early as possible and try to complete the ISTQB in the first 6 months. The latter chapters of that course will help give you a structure of how testing should be carried out throughout a project and the different methods you can utilise.
I am delighted that Flooid have a role waiting for me and upon completion, I will be moving into a full quality role. My expectations from there are to focus on automation and become a Quality Engineer within Flooid, with the medium-term goal of becoming an SDET.