Thanks to my apprenticeship I now have a full-time job in tech

by Chelsea Dryden, Junior Tester at NCFE


My name is Chelsea Dryden, and after a year-long Apprenticeship with NCFE, I’m now a permanent Junior Tester with NCFE.

My journey as an apprentice began when I signed up for NCFE’s Rising Stars Academy. This came about because of a skills shortage of IT workers in the North East, and aimed to give young people a stepping stone to begin their career in IT.

The academy was a 15 week boot camp, during which I gained a number of qualifications that are really respected in the IT sector, including Microsoft Technical Associate (MTA) certificates and Network Fundamentals. We also had work experience across the business to get a feel of not only what it was like to work in IT, but also in an office in general.  Learning how to act and speak in a work environment was really helpful.

After I graduated from the NCFE Rising Stars Academy, I started my Apprenticeship as a Software Tester. The work experience I was given was brilliant – rather than just shadowing, NCFE colleagues trusted me to take the reins and really get involved. The work experience not only gave me technical skills, it also improved my communication skills. I was shown what testers do on a daily basis and was also lucky enough to see the automation script and have a go at writing code that helps run tests faster and more frequently.

While I was getting real work experience, I was also doing level 3 diplomas. Although I didn’t think my diplomas were going to benefit me in my job role at first, they really did. Doing the qualifications helped as when I was shown the automated code, I could understand it more and it helped me pick it up easier. I don’t have my A Levels, so I need some qualifications and these ones are directly related to my dream career.

After finishing my level 3 diplomas, I was able to communicate with developers better as I had an understanding of their roles and how it feels to be to be a developer. This is really helpful as sometimes the communication between developers and testers can be difficult.

Because of all of this, I really would recommend an Apprenticeship to other young people. Thanks to this Apprenticeship, I now have a full-time job with NCFE in the area I want to continue my career. The work experience gave me the confidence and the skills to do this job, while my qualifications provided the supporting knowledge. I’ve had some amazing opportunities and I’m only 17 years old. If you go to school or college, you don’t really get the hands on experience you need.

I’ve now started a Level 4 Apprenticeship in Software Development with Baltic Training which will improve my technical skills even more for the future.


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