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‘T’- eed up for success

Published on 08/03/2022 by SGLAS

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UPDATE: We are really pleased to announce that Reece has now been permanently employed by Code Galaxy and is looking forward to starting his degree apprenticeship (which will be fully funded by his employer) at B&FC very soon.

Anyone questioning whether they should opt for T levels after school, just needs to speak to Reece Harris, one of our T Level Computing students. In just 10 minutes, Reece was able to comprehensively and convincingly sum up why T levels were the perfect choice for him and why they could be the perfect choice for you too. Here’s what he had to say:

B&FC: Why did you choose a T level over an A level qualification? RH: Whilst people might be more familiar with A levels, the 350+ hours of work experience that is part and parcel of a T level is exactly the kind of experience that employers are looking for especially in areas like computing. It also means that I’m developing skills alongside my computer knowledge that are vital for work in general; skills like team-working, communication and organisation that I wouldn’t necessarily pick up in a classroom.

B&FC: Why was B&FC the best place to come for your course? RH: Apart from being close to where I live, the facilities at the College are amazing. We have really high-end computing equipment which is comparable to the tech used in industry. This means that I’m learning on systems that are going to be familiar to me wherever I work. The other thing that’s great about the College is the tutors, some of whom have doctorate. You can tell that they spend time in industry every year as their knowledge is so up-to-date. They’re really supportive when you need it, but also good at letting you get on with stuff so that you learn to work independently too.

B&FC: We hear you managed to secure a pretty special placement as part of your T level. Tell us more about that. RH: Yeah. My industry placement is with a company called Code Galaxy which is a local software and systems developer. The role couldn’t be better for me, although I did have to go through a pretty tough interview process to secure it. They really wanted to make sure I could contribute to the organisation as they have asked me to develop a system called Downtimer, which is designed to provide statistical information on website performance. It is definitely a hands-on role so whilst they’ve made me feel really welcome, they’ve also given me quite a lot of responsibility.

B&FC: What has having this new-found responsibility meant for you? RH: I’ve grown up really and realised I can’t just mess about anymore. It’s also really helped to build my confidence. Being into computers growing up can be quite isolating as it’s just you and the screen. As someone who was fairly shy, I felt comfortable hiding behind my computer but this role has brought me out of my shell. I’ve learnt to communicate effectively with other people. For example, I would have really struggled doing something like this interview beforehand, but now I feel ok about it.

B&FC: We understand that Code Galaxy really treat you like a member of the team. RH: They’ve been amazing. As well as the work which they’ve allowed me to become very involved in, they have made such an effort to include me socially too. I got an invite to the company Christmas party and a Christmas present from them as well. I feel like an employee rather than someone on work experience.

B&FC: You must be making a great impression as we understand Nicky Speakman, Code Galaxy’s owner, is proposing to take you on as a degree apprentice once you’ve completed your T level. RH: That’s the fantastic thing about doing a T level. Because you’re spending a generous amount of time on your placement, the company really has the opportunity to get to know you. If you make a good impression, who knows where it might lead. And even if they can’t offer you a place going forward, a great reference and a portfolio of genuine work mean that you will have an edge when approaching future employers.

B&FC: What are you hoping to do going forward? RH: I’m really interested in cyber security and eventually want to work helping companies to identify where there are vulnerabilities in the computer systems and developing solutions to make their systems more secure.

B&FC: What is it about cyber security that sparked your interest? RH: I dabbled in a bit of hacking when I was younger and hacked into the local council’s system which I now realise was a really stupid thing to do. I got caught, but instead of punishing me, the council invited me in to see what potential damage my activities could have caused and showed me what they did to keep their systems secure. I realised then that outwitting the hackers could be an even bigger buzz than actually being one. That’s when it dawned on me that working in cyber security would be the perfect fit for me and this has driven my choices ever since.

B&FC: What would you say to someone who was thinking about doing a T Level? RH: Don’t hesitate. If you know what career area you’re interested in, even down to the kind of job you want, T levels really do offer the best of all worlds. You get amazing work experience together with a fantastic education and, if like me, you gel with the company you do your placement with it could mean having a ready-made job at the end of it. T levels are 100% a win-win.

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