Adapting to life during COVID-19 as a degree apprentice

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I joined Capgemini straight out of school as part of their degree apprentice programme, back in 2016. I knew throughout my education that I wanted to work in IT, but I wasn’t sure exactly which area. I came across Capgemini’s apprenticeship programme and knew it was the one for me, being able to change accounts and learn different roles seemed exciting and would eventually help me decide what to specialise in. Although it wasn’t considered the traditional route into industry, I believe it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made as part of my career, even if it did mean moving 85 miles away from my hometown in Poole, Dorset!

Moving Accounts

Due to cost saving targets, I recently moved accounts to an automotive client as a Junior Scrum Master. Joining a new account during the middle of lockdown is not something which I had expected, and it has been a completely different adventure to what I have experienced when joining other accounts as part of my apprenticeship journey.

Whilst joining a new account virtually can have its downsides, I’m grateful to be able to work with a client, and also have a good work life balance which is something that could have been impacted if I was on site.

Not having worked as a Junior Scrum master before, I was worried about how I would be able to complete the job I was tasked with, but thankfully I was able to complete training in the form of KT sessions, and my Engagement Manager has been extremely helpful with what I need to be doing. My previous account was based in London for a recruitment agency and I was working as a Junior Service Delivery Manager so that has helped me significantly with my new role. I’m thankful that I am still able to develop in my career and change roles even when the world is in chaos, something which I think is very specific to Capgemini.

Unfortunately, as I had my exams the week before leaving my previous account, and there was no confirmation that I was officially leaving (due to being extended multiple times), I didn’t get to have a formal goodbye to my colleagues. This has been one of the negative parts of lockdown, as at Capgemini I have found the environment to be a friendly one and leaving so abruptly has been strange.

However, on my new account, we have regular ‘coffee break’ meetings where we are able to catch-up, have chats which we would usually have when in the office, and generally just have a bit of fun. I’ve found it helps break up the day and has enabled me to get my colleagues a lot better!

Focusing on my Degree

With the extra free time I now have available within the work week, due to not commuting, I have been able to focus more on my studies for my Degree Apprenticeship in BSc Digital and Technology Solutions at Aston University.

I had previously struggled finding the time to spend on perfecting my notes and revising when working, commuting and socialising. Not being able to commute or socialise due to lockdown has meant that I have more hours a week to concentrate on my degree.

Going into my final set of modules this month, I am actually glad that we are spending more time at home, as there will be less distractions when doing the most anticipated modules of my degree.

DIY Activities

Having recognised that we are going to be spending the majority of the year at home working, and possibly into 2021, I decided to create a motivating and positive space to work in which would be separate from my living space.

I had been working on the dining table with my monitor, with my fiancé using our only ‘desk’. This was fine for a shorter period, but I wanted our relaxing space back so decided to convert our storage cupboard.

Previously the cupboard had been used to store out of season clothes, a blow-up mattress, suitcases and a whole lot more ‘stuff’. The cupboard has a socket for power, and is roughly 70cm wide, 150m deep.

I painted it a bright white, my stepdad cut me a piece of wood for my desk, and I adjusted my shelves so my monitor would fit. I was gifted a chair from my local ‘buy nothing’ group on Facebook and decorated with items from IKEA and around the house.

It took me a couple of weeks to complete, mainly due to finding a time to visit my parents in Dorset to get the wood cut, but now I have a space which I can keep my client and university work in, and close the door at the end of the day.

If you can find a space, even if it’s really small, I would suggest finding somewhere you don’t have to see when you’re not working. I personally got ‘guilt’ when I wasn’t studying as I could see my notes etc, but now find it easier to take time for myself to relax completely!

 

Author


Paige Stevens

Junior Scrum Master