I was very fortunate to be selected by a global Irish FinTech organisation. It has developed a regulatory platform to aid banks onboard clients in line with global finical regulations. Since 2009, it has experienced exponential growth. For employees this resulted in many opportunities to grow professionally. As an International Financial Services (IFS) Apprentice, I was exposed to some of these opportunities.
Were you always interested in getting into this line of work?
I had considered Financial Services previously and attended interviews, but nothing transpired. In the previous 8 years, I was employed as a community development specialist meeting the social and economic challenges of unequal development in Ireland. I never imagined that I would work in global Irish FinTech organisation. However, after completing a Springboard computer science programme the previous year it was a very good fit.
How did you come across the Apprenticeship Programme?
I was due to complete my Springboard programme and was actively researching opportunities relative to my new skills. I happened to come across a LinkedIn post that highlighted the IFS Apprenticeship. There were two options – Associate Apprenticeship, at certificate level and Specialist Apprenticeship at Higher Diploma level. The deadline was at midnight and it was 10:30pm! I didn’t have to give much consideration and given the timeframe I applied straight away for the Specialist Apprenticeship option.
I was enthusiastic about the possibility of the IFS Apprenticeship being the next opportunity available.
What skills did you learn?
As part of an IFS Apprentice modules included Data Programming, Financial Markets, Business Data Analysis, Data Management, Data Mining & Machine Learning and Work Based Learning.
In my work-based learning I worked in the R&D Department and learned about DevOps Software Development, Agile Processes, Automation Practices, Quality Assurance, Design, documenting activities, various software applications, FinTech as a business and being part of a good team that excelled.
In Professional Services, I learned to deal with the client… Understand the complex needs of the business and translate those needs into solutions that can be deployed in our application. The process is documented end to end and the solution document refined and approved internally before final approval by the client - then implemented by the developers.
How has the programme benefitted you?
Massively, I developed further IT skills parallel to being exposed to work based practical experience. It was a big challenge but a challenge I embraced. Both the college environment and workplace environment were very demanding and required dedicated commitment for the duration of the apprenticeship.
The reward was learning from the best and harnessing what I learned into new skills that added value.
What are you doing now / plans for the future?
It’s been two and a half years since I started the IFS Apprenticeship. During this time, I was promoted from the IFS Apprenticeship role into a full-time position as a Product Consultant in the Professional Services Department.
I can not see barriers that could not be overcome and leaned on the support of colleagues to help me learn and adjust myself to opportunities as they were presented.
More recently, I have secured employment with a global payments company as a Senior Business Analyst. I will work in their European global technology and innovation hub in Dublin. They develop technical and innovative solutions in areas such as artificial intelligence, cyber security, block chain and user experience.
What would you say to someone interested in doing the apprenticeship?
Focus on what you want to achieve. Do not get side stepped into a narrative that detracts from your objectives. Don’t be afraid to step back in order to go forward as success is not linear and may require redefinition from time to time. While its important to learn, its equally important to unlearn in order to achieve key results. Good Luck!