Apprentice Insight

Published: November 15, 2023

At Allstate NI we prioritize developing a talented workforce that is equipped with skills for the future. We offer a 4-year paid Apprenticeship in partnership with Ulster University with participants graduating with a BSc (Hons) in Computing Systems upon completion and a job within Allstate NI. The degree itself focuses on a range of modules within the IT industry such as software development, cloud computing, data analytics, security and artificial intelligence.

During the four years at Allstate NI, Apprentices got experience working in different areas of the business to gain industry experience. Hear from Conor who recently completed our Apprenticeship.

1. Which area have you specialized in/area of the business you work in currently?

Currently I work in DevX, Polaris Team, as a full stack developer. I have been in this role for roughly 2 years and 5 months.

2. What were the most valuable skills and knowledge you gained during your apprenticeship?

There are so many skills that were extremely built upon while working in Allstate. I felt that everything that I learnt in university was greatly enhanced while working with professionals in the sector. The main skills that were developed was my ability to write clean code, reviewing others work, public speaking and time management.

Allstate Northern Ireland - Apprenticeship Insight - headshot of an ANI employee.

3. Can you share some specific projects or tasks you worked on during your apprenticeship that had a significant impact on your learning and development?

While working with the Polaris team I was exposed to a lot of Spring Boot programming. This not only reinforced my ability to write code but gave me a strong understanding of APIs. This leant heavily into multiple different modules during my time in university.

There was time spent in the cloud team which was also invaluable. The cloud/platform team gave me a great insight to infrastructure that supports IT systems. There was a module specifically on cloud that I felt I was already prepared for given this prior experience.

4. How did you balance on-the-job training with classroom or theoretical learning during your apprenticeship?

During the first 3 years it was quite manageable. I would usually spend an hour or two after work every other day and make use of the weekends. In the fourth and final year, this ramped up as you would imagine. At this point I was doing 3-4 hours after work every day and using a good chunk of my weekends to make progress. Thankfully Allstate has learning time which I was able to avail of (15 hours per year).

5. Did you have a mentor or supervisor during your apprenticeship? How did they support your growth and development?

At the start there was a buddy system which gave us a mentor to help us get to grips with the company. This was very beneficial as it gave us a friendly colleague to speak to when we had any Allstate NI specific questions.

I also used the peers in my team as support, giving advice where and when they could. When I asked for more challenging work it was always accommodated, and I never felt limited or over worked.

6. Can you provide examples of how your apprenticeship experience prepared you for your current or future career?

The apprenticeship has given me so many skills and qualities that have set me up for my career. Being able to speak out in meetings, give my input on different design choices, understanding release processes and core CICD delivery methods. All the concepts that I had learned in university was put in to practice every day in work which gave me a clearer understanding of how it all worked.

I would feel confident going into any full stack role at any company as of now thanks to all the knowledge and experience I have gained with my time here.

7. How did your apprenticeship experience shape your understanding of the industry's challenges and opportunities?

The apprenticeship has given me a clear understanding of what is expected of someone not only in my current role but other roles that are out there in the IT industry. This is thanks to the rotations around different sectors within the company and being exposed to a lot of different people with different jobs.

My team would experience different challenges that I got the opportunity to help resolve. This helped me understand the importance of product support and creating maintainable code.