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Shona McClarence - apprenticeship case study 

Level 3 Software Development

Shona McClarence

Shona McClarence began her Level 3 Software Development apprenticeship with Invotra in November 2017 

I began my apprenticeship with Invotra in November 2017 after completing my A levels. It was my first job after school and although I went through the University application process, my heart wasn’t set on the idea of going. For me, a turning point was when someone came in to school to tell us about the opportunities available with apprenticeships and I realised I could achieve what I wanted quicker through being an apprentice.

My registration with QA led me to Invotra. More than anything I was impressed by the obvious support for apprenticeships within the company. There wasn’t another company so proud of how they champion apprenticeships, as evidenced from all of the awards and events detailed on the company website. At my interview, the company made it clear that I could enjoy one to one support and that I wouldn’t just be sat in a corner – I would be involved in real work from the beginning.

I joined at the same time as two other apprenticeships and as soon as we joined we were given a thorough induction into the company, the product and the development cycle process. We had lots of meetings with everyone from the team and we could see how we fit in, especially within the QA department. For the first few weeks, we were given time for training, but this was done by creating real content for the site, so we really got to know the product well during this time.

I then joined the QA team and started testing straight away. We’d test things ourselves but the guys would monitor our work, allowing us to try things out rather than simply shadowing people. I now do testing for all of our customers including internal integration and pre-production testing.

For my apprenticeship training, I need to complete a portfolio, provide evidence I have met the standards within my role at work and prove I have the necessary experience and knowledge to complete a synoptic project at QA, which involves analysing, planning and evaluation of a project.

In the near future, in terms of training, I’m looking forward to learning more Drupal and PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor, and how this will fit within Invotra. These are areas that put what I have learnt in my training and my experience at work together, as sometimes there can be a bit of a divide.

I have now completed all of the required work for my apprenticeship and am just waiting to hear back from QA about whether I have passed. Now that I have finished my level 3 software development course I am looking to enrol on the Level 4 CyberSecurity apprenticeship; I ideally want to move towards working in DevOps and Security testing as I have always looked to these areas as my ideal career path (I was actually planning on taking similar courses at university before I decided to pursue an apprenticeship).

I am 100% sure that joining Invotra as an apprentice was the right move. My dad thought I should go to university and has taken some convincing but now he is really happy I made the right choice. I have definitely gotten the experiences that I wanted out of the apprenticeship, and have actually exceeded these expectations in several ways due to my working at Invotra and being able to gain experience attending events and getting to lead QA on development projects. Leading QA has given me valuable experience in communicating with different stakeholders and other teams within the company.

I would, in the future, like to begin to take on some more high-level roles within QA, particularly in regards to management as I feel that this will help me to get where I want to go in my career.

Find out more about apprenticeships with Invotra or read more case studies from other Invotra apprentices here: National Apprenticeship Week 2020.