Hello, I Am Zainab
An apprenticeship is a great idea if you’re unsure which area you might want to pursue a career in the future. It’ll really give you a great insight into what different roles involve and help you develop an awareness of your strengths and weaknesses early on in your career.
Tell us more about your experience
Apprenticeship Job Title and Employer:
Cross Functional Degree Apprentice at Cisco
Training Provider and Qualification:
BSc Digital Technology and Solutions (Levels 6) at QA
27th July 2020 – 2023
What are your interests outside of work?
I really enjoy making Pakistani sweet dishes, especially Gulab Jamun – I have a very sweet tooth! I also enjoy trying out different cuisines, my favourite is Korean food. I have always been an adventurous person and I like being surrounded in nature and so often go for long walks. Badminton is also one of the sports I really enjoy, and I’ve been playing since quite a young age.
Rating of apprenticeship out of 5:
My Ambassador Story
My day-to-day activities vary depending on the team I’m completing my rotation with at the time and the role of the team with wider Cisco. In my previous sales rotations, I’ve spent time supporting the building of the next fiscal year’s pipeline, identifying potential opportunities. At other times I’ve worked directly with our customers and partners to deliver training sessions. In contrast, in some rotations, I have my own projects where I can work more closely with the data and complete analytical work. It really varies on which areas I’d like to get exposure to and build my knowledge in!
The most exciting project I’ve been involved in was in my first rotation within the Collaboration team. I was handed a project that I was entirely responsible for! The team was newly formed at the time and needed help restructuring their Renewals process. I was given the chance to understand how we could improve these processes and report my findings and final recommendations to the senior team. It was a successful project, and I was able to get experience across different areas of Cisco to develop my knowledge and widen my network. We had a positive outcome as actions were taken with my suggestions as a priority to work from!
“I decided on an apprenticeship as I’m very hands-on – I learn best when getting stuck in and I believe that apprenticeships allow for this learning style.”
I like that the theoretical knowledge I learn is applied straight away in a professional environment and that I can receive feedback from professionals in the field. An apprenticeship also personally gives me access to the latest innovations and information about changes in my field. Being able to try different roles and parts of the business also can help you identify which areas you enjoy and excel in!
I was very proud when I became a board member for the UKI Women of Cisco Board. I’m so passionate about getting more women into tech, and especially increasing the neuro-diversity intake of STEM companies and encouraging those from lower socio-economic backgrounds to consider a career in the sector. I’d say if you’re considering an apprenticeship, I say go for it! It’s a great idea if you’re unsure which area you might want to pursue a career in later down the line. It’ll really give you a great insight into what different roles involve and help you develop an awareness of your strengths and weaknesses early on in your career.
“Before my apprenticeship, I really struggled to find a career pathway and environment where I thought I could excel despite my learning difficulties – dyslexia.”
It made me think being dyslexic was a disadvantage and would close avenues for me. But, after taking a gap year after A-Levels to reflect, learn and explore, I realised how many strengths my dyslexia gave me: high emotional intelligence, creativity, a strong analytical mindset. These were all things that are essential for the future, especially in the technology field, and can be used to make a positive change in the world.
So, my advice would be that there is always an industry or tole out there that matches your skills – you just have to believe in yourself and your value! In my apprenticeship, I’ve received loads of support from my skills coach, who I meet with on a monthly basis, and the welfare team for my learning needs. This environment has allowed me to develop the skills that are necessary for the world of work, whether that’s networking and negotiating, to presenting and data analysis to name a few!
By the end of my apprenticeship, I will have completed my degree in Digital and Technology Solutions and will have a solid three years of experience in the industry. I’d love to stay working within this area, but my aim is to have used my time in my apprenticeship to really understand my strengths and weaknesses within IT/Technology. With this, I can find the place I can add the most value and specialise in that.
“I used GetMyFirstJob to find my apprenticeship.”
It was the main platform I used when searching for my role and I had a good experience with the site. The website listed vacancies from loads of different employers – from large corporations to smaller, which I liked as it gave me choices. There was so much information on the different types of apprenticeships and how they work, so I found GetMyFirstJob very informative.
If you’re unsure about the career path you wish to pursue, don’t rush into university or an apprenticeship for the sake of it. Take time to see what’s out there and where your passion lies. I recommend an apprenticeship with a rotational structure, like Cisco’s, as you can explore different areas of the business and discover the right fit for you!
Interested in becoming an ambassador? Find out more!