Shriyansh Sapokta

Shriyansh or Shri to his friends, decided to join our apprenticeship programme after discovering his passion for coding and understanding he could work, earn and learn, all at the same time, instead of following a more traditional route. We sat down with him to understand where did his love for coding came from, what does his role entail and the opportunities he has as an apprentice with us.

Shri, what do you and your team do?

I am a software engineer in Trading and Command. My team and I are responsible for creating software releases for the BT Trade Platform, which are released every 6 weeks. Additionally, whenever there are errors in the code or a trading turret is not doing what it is supposed to, a ticket is raised and passed down different lines of support. We are the last line of support and have a look at these tickets to try find a solution which we can implement to improve the performance of these devices. There is also a lot of creativity in my team where we start side projects to increase the efficiency of our release systems through the use of automation amongst other things. 

Why did you apply for an apprenticeship in technology?

From a young age I have always been interested in technology. My interest in tech initially stemmed from playing video games and then actually making a few games as part of my Computer Science projects at school. I really enjoyed coding and felt like it was something I was good at. I continued studying computer science, learning both the theory as well as practising it daily. I quickly realised that I enjoyed coding more than the theory - which is when my teacher suggested apprenticeships. I did my research and quickly realised that I would prefer a degree apprenticeship rather than taking the traditional route as I would still be getting a degree and I would be able to practise the theory at work daily. I thought that gaining the industry knowledge alongside my degree would be the best option for me.

What’s your day to day like?

On a normal day I start off my reading my emails and making sure there aren’t any urgent tasks that need my attention. If there are, then I plan my day so that I can give the urgent tasks priority. I then have a daily call with my manager discussing what I have done the previous day and asking if there are anything I need to do or just asking for help in areas I don't understand. I have found that discussing my tasks with my manager allows me to look at things from a different perspective and improve my work. After my meetings, I get on with my day where I start coding for projects, I am involved in. Recently I have started a solo project where I am trying to improve the BT trading platform by creating an application which makes changing JSON’s (JavaScript Object Notation) easier through multiple levels of validation. This is key when editing files with more than a thousand lines of JSON as even one misspelt word or a comma in the wrong place can break programmes. Alongside coding, I also spend a fraction of my day learning and improving areas of weaknesses. Recently, I have started learning about Design Patterns and coding different examples to ensure I understand them well. I then spend about 30 minutes trying to learn or refresh my memory on certain programming techniques on Code Academy before ending my day.

What are some of the key skills you’ve developed as an apprentice?

Some of the key skills I have developed include learning Java - a programming language I had never used before my apprenticeship. I have also been expanding my knowledge in Python and focusing on different programming techniques. Non-technical skills, I have learned include time management, which I have been using to prioritise tasks and ensuring that I meet all my deadlines at work, as well as University. I have also developed teamwork and leadership skills on group projects where I and a few other apprentices had to run a short-term sustainable project at BT where we focused on improving our colleague's mental health using SMART goals and assessing how well the project went using PESTLE (Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal and Environmental factors) Analysis.

What’s the favourite project you’ve been involved in?

As I usually work by myself, I really enjoy projects that involve group work or collaboration. I like listening to other’s ideas and seeing how they would go about and solve a problem. Additionally, it’s always nice to interact with colleagues and discuss what the best approach would be as it requires measuring the pros/ cons of each other's solution. Therefore, I would say that the sustainability group project was my favourite. However, it is also enjoyable at times just coding programs by myself and seeing the end product being used in the real world at client sites like Morgan Stanley.

How is BT building the future?

BT is building future in different aspects. They have introduced ERAP (ethnicity rapid action plan) to help build and accelerate diversity within the business especially at a senior level. Additionally, they are involved in 5G and bringing fibre to the premises across the UK thus connecting people across the country and providing internet access for everyone. They have also started putting a new Gigabit Wi-Fi enabled Street Hub 2.0 unit in some offices. With the units helping local councils meet their sustainability goals through environmental monitoring, as well as boosting ultrafast Wi-Fi and mobile coverage across the local area. The units connect people and businesses through a range of free services - calls; Wi-Fi; mobile device charging; local wayfinding and access to emergency calls. 

Are you involved in other activities outside your regular job hours?

I try take part in as many opportunities as possible. I have gone back to my high school and sixth form to talk to students about the BT’s apprenticeship programmes and my role at BT. I never had people come in when I was in school to give me an insight about the different opportunities that are out there apart from just attending university. BT has been very supportive with this and have encouraged me to take these opportunities and speak to other young individuals. I also try get involved in different apprenticeship opportunities. Soon, I will be running a workshop with year 8’s in a school in Manchester teaching them about the basics of Python and hopefully encouraging them to choose Computer Science for GCSE’s. I will also be on a panel for BT on LinkedIn in answering any questions and breaking stigmas about apprenticeship.

What is the main advantage of doing an apprenticeship at BT?

The main advantage of a BT apprenticeship is that it is an established programme that has been going on for quite a long time. This means that they have already gone through the trial-and-error phase - optimising training for all apprentices and ensuring that apprentices like myself get the most out of the programme. Furthermore, BT has a very nice and helpful work culture. All managers and colleagues that I have spoken to are very supportive and will take time out to ensure that I have a good understanding of my task and anything I am unsure about. I feel like I can speak openly and ask as many questions as I need to - which is always a huge benefit. The managers and colleague have always gone above and beyond for me, I am very grateful to have them around me. Furthermore, BT was voted the 4th best workplace to grow your career in the UK, as well as well as the best private apprenticeship employer in 2020, placing 4th overall behind the British Army, HMRC and the Royal Navy.

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