Aston-based Luke Phillips joined our degree apprenticeship programme in 2012. At 21 he is already working as a software engineer, and he has built an extensive amount and variety of work experience. As he embarks on the study and exam phase of his degree, he spoke to our editor about his experience to date.

When did you join Capgemini and what were your primary reasons for joining?

Luke Phillips - Apprentice at Capgemini UKLuke Phillips:  I joined Capgemini back in July 2012. The most attractive aspect of joining Capgemini at the time was the opportunity to earn a very good wage while, at the same time, studying for a degree, which is paid for. The apprentice & undergraduate programme is much more: for example, the opportunity to work in numerous places across the UK offers the chance to travel. In addition, the experience of working on very large contracts is something that not many places can offer. In my opinion the whole package is much more attractive than going to university.

How would you describe your current role? What does a typical day involve?

LP:  My current role involves working as a Windows 7 infrastructure engineer. I’m responsible for resolving any root cause problems that occur as a result of the release of new applications onto the Windows 7 estate for my client. We are also required to future proof any issues which may occur to prevent them happening again.

A typical day for me will involve logging onto the system to look at any outstanding issues to be resolved in the incident queue; I will then contact the user so I can understand the issue and, at that point, attempt to resolve it by identifying and applying the necessary fix. If any additional investigation is required due to the way in which Windows 7 behaves, I will need to go down to our labs environment which is essentially a proof of concept environment to resolve the issue.

What projects have you worked on?

LP:  During my time with Capgemini, I have worked on three projects. The first involved releasing a Drupal system to aid them in managing their site content more efficiently. On this project I had a few different roles: my primary role was as a tester. The other two were business analyst and development types of role. This was a fantastic opportunity, which gave me the chance to interact and present key demonstrations to key stakeholders on the client side. This gave me a great amount of confidence going forward.

The next role I undertook for a short period of time was as a developer on the Windows 8 application. This involved us adding some extra functionality onto an existing application that was created before I joined. My latest project is as a Windows 7 infrastructure engineer. This requires me to analyse the root cause of problems on the estate.

What skills have you gained working for Capgemini? soft/technical

LP:  Prior to joining Capgemini I had had only brief exposure to programming from my college course. Since joining, the majority of the technical skills I’ve learnt have been from scratch. This has given me great confidence when stepping into a new role. Initially the technical skills I learned were all Microsoft-based; these involved the .NET Framework, ASP.NET, C++ and SQL, however the training hasn’t stopped there. Capgemini has supported me in my eagerness to learn Microsoft Dynamics CRM for which I have been on a few training courses. The company has also supplied me with the material to continue my development in the area in my own time.

How do you find the Capgemini degree programme?

LP:  It’s a great opportunity. I have recently stepped into the degree, so I’m currently in my first block of studying and exams. The degree contains a lot of relevant content that will help people like myself extend our existing knowledge. The programme so far has been sturdy, with the majority of things being planned ahead of time. It’s good that Capgemini and Aston University are listening to the feedback we provide to try and make the programme even better than it already is. A lot of dedication has to be put in if you want to achieve a very good grade. Achieving the optimum work/life balance to do this can be difficult at times, but it will all be worth it in the end.

What made you choose Capgemini over the standard university experience?

LP:  The reason I chose Capgemini over the standard university route was because I have the opportunity to earn a degree and, at the same time, gain a wealth of valuable experience without incurring a debt. This means that, by the time I finish my degree, I will be in a better place than those who have chosen the university route.

Would you recommend the Capgemini degree apprenticeships to others?

LP:  I would certainly recommend the Capgemini degree apprenticeship to others. If you’re interested in having a career in the IT industry I believe it’s one of the best routes in. You’re able to get your foot in the door – which is the crucial step – and you have a great opportunity to make the best of both worlds. The experience of working on these large projects with Capgemini and earning a degree at the same time will give you the best possible start to your career, and outside life.

Where do you see yourself in five years time?

LP:  At the moment I’m not sure where I see myself in five years time. I am currently focused on developing my skills in Microsoft Dynamics CRM as this is an area which I want to pursue and focus on. By that point I would like to have passed all the Microsoft Certifications relevant to CRM.

What tips would you give to other applicants?

LP:  Firstly, I would make sure that this is the right choice for you as an individual as it isn’t easy, but with the help and support provided by Capgemini it’s certainly possible. Never be afraid to ask for help and support as I’m sure you won’t be the only one with questions. Lastly, just be yourself. We are all individuals and the great charisma that Capgemini employees have makes it easier to succeed together as well as making it a great company to work for.