Apprentice Year Reflection - Sophie Ware
Did you know... it's the last week to apply for an Apprenticeship with Microsoft UK?!?
No seriously... What are you waiting for?!
To help wet your appetite, and to give you an insight into why you should consider this life-changing opportunity, our Microsoft Apprentices of FY16 are providing some fantastic insights into their time at Microsoft, and why you should get involved! Here's Sophie, one of our lucky apprentices with her thoughts...
I’m Sophie and I’m one of the FY16 Apprentices. I’m part of the Sales Excellence team in SMS&P (Small, Mid-market Solutions & Partners). Part of my job is to get updates from our partners on how their accounts are doing with their customers, and to get a firm view of the overall sales pipeline. The other part of my job is managing BIF (Business Investment Funds) for my department, and working with Partner Sales Executives. BIF is where we give our partners funding for projects that they carry out with their customers, in which we then get a return on investment.
As a Microsoft Apprentice, I think it’s safe to say that I have grown not only as a professional, but as a person too.
When I was at school, I was generally shy and wasn’t happy stepping out of my comfort zone. I remember every year, we each had to do a 5-minute public speaking assessment for English. This genuinely terrified me, and in the days building up to it I would get myself so worked up for this little speech. Now, I can comfortably talk in front of large audiences. The other day, I spoke in front of an audience of 200, and guess what, I didn’t work myself up like I did back at school… which I never thought I’d be able to say! At Microsoft, you’ll find yourself talking to many senior people every day, and talking in front of people will become the norm.
"at school, I was generally shy...now, I can comfortably talk in front of large audiences"
I always thought I was quite an organised person…
...until I got a job here!
Your Outlook calendar is literally your homework planner from school, but times the details by 100. It makes your life so much easier if you are organised with your job, that way you know where you need to be and when, what to bring etc. Punctuality is key!
I find myself more productive nowadays in comparison with being at school. I will admit, working until 5:30pm instead of studying until 3pm was a struggle at first, but now I just see it as an opportunity to fit more into the day and complete more tasks.
I can definitely say that networking is important when you’re an apprentice here. If you work in Services and you’re interested in Marketing, then networking would be your chance to find out more about what people do there. Telling someone you’ll buy them a coffee in exchange for an insight into their job role happens every day here!
My parents have definitely noticed a difference in me since I’ve started my apprenticeship. I feel that I’ve become more independent and that my confidence has grown so much. They have been so supportive throughout the whole process. I still keep in touch with my teachers from my sixth form college (shout-out to Henley Col!) and regularly re-visit with the other apprentices to give insights into the early-in-career opportunities we have here at Microsoft, and also having a stand at their careers fairs.
There have been so many highlights to this year
...such as attending Future Decoded, raising over £1,500 for Great Ormond Street, taking part in the Brathay Apprenticeship Challenge, having our Christmas Party at the Grand Hotel in Brighton and taking selfies with Michel Van Der Bel, our UK Managing Director. We’ve also got our Apprentice Offsite at the end of April in the New Forest, so we are all really looking forward to that!
It can be a big jump from education to working life; I know it was for me. If you’re on the fence about applying for an apprenticeship, my advice would be to just go for it. Don’t underestimate yourself, push yourself out of you comfort zone, because whatever you put in, you’ll get back out of it.
My top application process tips would be to define your strengths and really build on them, and use examples to prove you have them. If you’re really good at working as a team, show it! Prove it. Try to act yourself and don’t let your nerves get the better of you – if you are confident you will stand out more. Also, if you make it through to the assessment centre, don’t forget that assessors will be watching you the whole time, not just during the activities!
It’s important to make a good first impression.
Don’t underestimate yourself, push yourself out of you comfort zone, because whatever you put in, you’ll get back out of it.