7 Mar 2024

University Not Part of the Plan? Consider What You Could Achieve Through an Apprenticeship at the Uk’s Intelligence Services

Advice Technology

Finishing school this summer and ready for a different kind of challenge? University doesn’t have to be part of the plan. If you’re looking to kick-start a career in STEM somewhere uniquely exciting, how about an apprenticeship at the UK’s Intelligence Services? We’re always on the lookout for fresh talent, and with opportunities ranging from software and engineering roles to technical training programmes, you could unlock far more than just your potential in one of our friendly and supportive teams.

We spoke to Beth, an Apprentice Software Engineer alumna, to find out what life as an MI5 apprentice is really like!

“When I started applying for apprenticeships, I wasn’t thinking about a career. It was more about the immediate future. I wasn’t passionate about any of my subject choices at school and wanted more practical application than theory. An apprenticeship meant I could gain experience, get paid, and earn a qualification.”


Get Stuck In

For Beth, an apprenticeship felt like striking out on her own – but she believes the best way to learn was to get stuck in.

“The learning curve is steep! For the first six months I was allocated time to study basic skills at a steady pace alongside practical opportunities to put what I was learning into real situations. Then, for the second half of the year, I was fully immersed in a project and working alongside other apprentices putting everything into action.”

Importantly, it was that sense of collaboration and support that helped Beth to thrive.


Speaking Up

“Sometimes new joiners might not want to speak up because they’re afraid of looking silly, but learning starts with asking questions! Whether you’re at MI5, MI6 or GCHQ, you don’t need to ‘prove yourself’ by doing things alone.

“I’ve always felt really supported by my colleagues. I was given opportunities to shadow people, and was always trusted with and involved with a variety of work. There’s no pressure to do and know everything. Everyone’s on the same journey and learning at their own pace.”


Considering an Apprenticeship

If, like Beth, you’ve realised university isn’t a route you want to pursue, an apprenticeship at might be a more rewarding way to begin your career in STEM and develop key skills.

“There’s lots of opinions and comparisons between apprenticeships or university,” said Beth. “All I can say is that as an apprentice I felt more mature, having had three years of experience, confidence and exposure to professional skills and behaviours. University wasn’t right for me, so I guess my main message here to just don’t compare yourself to others!

“I don’t feel like I missed out on the uni experience at all. There’s so much camaraderie and loyalty among the apprentices here. We’re all part of the same cohort, so we’ve been on the adventure together. Many of us live and socialise together, too; there’s a real community feel.”

Now, Beth’s a Senior Software Engineer at MI5 having earned a promotion after completing her apprenticeship. Now, involved in mentoring the newest apprentices coming through and working on key projects alongside them.

“There’s so much diversity in our current intake. They’re from varied backgrounds with all kinds of experience, but they’re united in their desire to learn and grow with a real interest in tech. I enjoy creating that controlled, supportive space for people to take their first steps – just like it was a life-changing experience for me!”

Feeling inspired? You could use your skills and passion for STEM to help keep the country safe, just like Beth. If you’re interested in learning more, visit our websites at MI5 and MI6 to view the different pathways – and to see where your ambition could take you.

Advice Technology
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