Tom Culley

We spoke with Tom Culley, Network Degree Apprentice, to find out what a day in the life of his role looks like and what he’d recommend to future Apprentices.

What does your day-to-day look like?

A normal day in the life of a Network Degree Apprentice involves clearing through some admin and emails in the morning, followed by supporting our field engineers over the phone by testing new components and connectives, and bringing these new provisions into service for our customers. I also spend much of my time building the configuration for new devices going onto our network across the UK and working with colleagues on new processes or troubleshooting.

Not only do I spend most of my time in a technical capacity, but I also have the opportunity to be involved with process sharing and automation journeys, to help make our business more optimised and efficient. Finally, I spend a few hours each week on ambassadorial activities, reaching out to students and teachers across my local area to spread the news on apprenticeships and open students’ eyes to the amazing opportunities that they can offer.

What made you decide on the apprenticeship route?

The support you can get from your employer to cover all of your university costs, as well as the amazing opportunity to work alongside those studies. The network I have been able to develop and also the opportunity to jump straight into work at the age of 18.

How did you decide what apprenticeship to choose?

I tried to find what standard/sector I enjoyed most. I always loved Technology and worked as a technician in a Theatre so moving into Networks or Software was my natural route from the apprenticeships available back in 2018.

What thing surprised you the most about your apprenticeship?

The environment where it doesn’t matter if you make a mistake – BT gives apprentices as many opportunities that it can to push us outside of our comfort zones and into our growth zone!

How have you found your social life; did you feel that you missed out on the university experience?

I don’t feel that I have “missed out” as I’ve had plenty of opportunities to travel and visit friends, thanks to an annual leave allowance and the funds that I have made from working as an Apprentice. I’ve often found being in a stronger financial position is something that my friends from University have wanted over the social life.

How do you manage your study time alongside your workload?

I try to use my weekly study day to the best of my ability but thinking ahead to when my deadlines may be due. I also find that the occasional hour or so after work can really help me with my studies. It’s not an easy route – but if you learn to be organised, it’s not as hard as it may seem!

Why did you decide to apply for the apprenticeship at BT?

I found that BT was a really warm and welcoming organisation. Some employers who I visited didn’t come across with such warmth and I really connected with BT’s values.

What piece of advice would you give to those leaving school in the next year who are confused about their options?

Go with your heart and what you enjoy – apprenticeships will give you the real-world experience that will guide your career and you should consider EVERY opportunity that will help you get there (workshops/skills days, etc.)

Are there any final tips you would give to a young person who wants to do what you do?

I would just say to explore the opportunities that are out there – make the most of the many amazing resources online and if you don’t know what you want from your career, just try and do whatever makes you smile.

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