Hi, I’m Vivian, a Software Engineering Degree Apprentice at Vodafone still on my coding journey.

I’ve always been calm and collected, enjoying my own space and company the majority of the time. 

In school I always wanted to make friends, so I spent a lot of time observing people and questioning their traits, wondering why people are way more confident than others and why there are pupils who consistently get top grades whereas others don’t. Why can’t I be confident too? Academically smart? Or even both? Is it the system? Or am I just not capable? I notice even today; many people ask the same questions I did.  You can say that all of this falls under the umbrella of imposter syndrome which is completely normal to feel and rather very common.  It’s not that you’re not capable, I think it’s the fact that we are undermining our abilities and we haven’t explored ourselves enough. 

I’ve grown to realise and accept that everyone has their own journeys/phases in life. As of now, I’ve taken the back seat, stopped observing people and began to focus more on my own qualities. What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? What topics make you angry, sad, happy, passionate? What do you love? Where do you feel most safe? My answers change every now and then when I do a ‘Vivian Check Up’ and I think that’s okay. It’s important to ask yourself these questions every now and then, so that you can be confident in your own abilities and values.

How did I know this course was for me?

These questions first became more apparent to me when I had to choose my GCSE subjects. They were very difficult to answer because I just… didn’t know. I noticed how easy it was to brush these questions off on a daily basis. Since I was forced into this type of situation where I had to make a decision, I spent a lot of time reflecting on them towards the deadline. Of course, I didn’t do this all alone. I spoke to my teachers, my parents, searched up forums online, weighed pros and cons and discovered my interest in computer science.  I chose computer science because I eventually recognised that I spent a lot of time on computers and watching futuristic tv shows like Sarah jane adventures and doctor who. I decided that it may be a good idea to study something I interact with every day and genuinely have an interest in.

In order to study this is Sixth form I was required to at least pass the subject at GCSE. As I previously stated I was struggling to pass a lot of my subjects at the time. However, the recent discovery for my interest in computer science was a main motivating factor for why I wanted to push harder. Looking back I feel like if I didn’t put the effort in to get to know myself better, I would have felt so much pressure to ‘just pass’ without any reason. This type of attitude could have even resulted to me resenting the education system and doubting my capabilities. 

What did I do?

Having to at least pass computer science and English gave me a sense of urgency. Something that made me feel like I had to practice mock papers everyday leading up to my exams, go crazy with revision, and be extremely transparent with what I know and don’t know.  This made me also change my attitude in terms of the following:

  1. Constantly asking ‘stupid questions’ and spending more time making sure I genuinely understood concepts. I did not care how I was viewed in class anymore because after picking my subjects, I knew why I was doing what I was doing.  I really wanted to give myself a chance to see what kind of results working hard could get me, and how these would affect my life moving forward.
  2. Open to help from anyone, anytime. I started to become very receptive to feedback, thoughts and opinions. For example when I got to year 11, I read some articles about people’s tips for entering their final year at school and things to look out for so that I felt more prepared and ready for my goal.
  3. Consistent deadlines and time scales (being organised). Google calendars helped me so much when planning the days leading up to the exam.  Any time I was focusing on a new task, I used the pomodoro technique which helped me focus for 25 mins and take a 5 mins break after. I needed this because sometimes, I could spend so much time on a topic and still not feel like things were sinking in. 25 minutes isn’t a lot of time for me, so I had to use this short space of time more wisely which made me more productive. Here’s an example of how I would plan my days:
  4. What type of learner are you? I also came to realise that the points above were not possible if I did not understand what type of learner I was. I am a mixture of a visual and a kinaesthetic learner. If you are too, I highly suggest YouTube videos on x2 speed and google calendars to help you focus on achievable goals. 

As a result of this hard work I passed my exams and was fortunate enough get into sixth form where they introduced apprenticeships to me. It proved a huge point to me that being hungry for a goal makes being disciplined so much easier and actually enjoyable, not forgetting rewarding!

Of course, this isn’t a revision tips guide, but it is this attitude that I now practice on a daily with my goals that showed my employer that I want a degree apprenticeship. I’m not the smartest or the best coder out there but I am absolutely trying everyday to be one, one day.   So, if you can, go out of your way to discover yourself and your goal in your own way. 

Degree Apprenticeships work experience Teaching and Learning