Ronan Dale – PWC Degree Apprenticeship

Hear from Ronan Dale who has recently joined the PWC Degree Apprenticeship and how Bring IT On helped him consider this route. Ronan takes the time to explain his pathway in to the IT sector, see what advice he can offer you to take the same or a similar route.
 

 Why Bring IT On inspired Ronan:
 

Joanne from Bring IT On gave a talk regarding the various careers in computing at the perfect time, just before we were starting to write our personal statements (roughly January 2018). The content of her presentation included descriptions of various computing related careers as well as a slide of companies based in NI which we may be working for in the future. Although I always knew I was going to study Computer Science or a similar degree, it was reassuring to hear that there is no scarcity of organisations which are based locally and ready to invest in young people.

 

I attended an open evening in Belfast Met themed around Cyber Security in March 2018. Once again, this event highlighted to me that many organisations appreciate local talent and also, that I was wise to have chosen to organise my Year 13 Work Placement with Derry-based Cyber Security firm MetaCompliance. This event also showed off some products which had recently hit the market including the Philips Hue smart LEDs. I felt that the event was very successful and well worth the drive up.

 

Ronan’s pathway and advice on how to get into a career in IT:

Studied Maths, Further Maths, Triple Award Science, Spanish, Business & Communication Systems, ICT, RE, English Language, English Literature at GCSE.

Particularly enjoyed the problem solving in maths/further maths. Business and ICT had similar specifications in Year 11 so I spent the majority of that year learning about Excel and Access. Joined the Young Enterprise NI club and worked on two projects.

Got 3rd in NI for Business & Communication Systems which reinforced my interest in considering a career in a firm.

Chose to study Maths, Software Development, Physics and Spanish at A Level

Why Maths? This A Level prepares you for a wide range of careers not just in Computing. I thoroughly enjoyed Further Maths which was designed to prepare students for an A Level in Maths. Topics in statistics will certainly come in useful if I’m doing data analysis in my future career.

Why Software? Why not? It’s without question an ideal A Level to prepare oneself for a role in the computing industry, as well as for reference during interviews. It is an intellectually demanding course which requires an immense amount of commitment on the part of both student and teacher. My AS coursework was centered around making a card gaming application which required the development of an algorithm to shift the positions of values in an Array of objects randomly. This took plenty of planning at the time, given my lack of expertise. However by doing something correctly but inefficiently the first time, you learn to make your code more concise moving forward. I gained a vast toolbox of relational database skills at A2 Level which will serve me well at university.

 

Why Spanish? From day one of studying Spanish in Year 8, I knew that I would enjoy learning grammar rules and vocabulary for this beautiful language used by so many clients worldwide. Coding is a language in its own right: consider the flow of logic through a block of code such as a loop to be like a sentence and consider keywords to be like vocabulary. Both Spanish and Coding have rules that must be followed to make a sentence/statement sensible. Spanish greatly improved my global acumen by giving me an awareness of the celebrations that take place in Spanish speaking regions. I always saw Spanish orals like mini interviews; telling someone new all about yourself, your interests etc.

Why Physics? I knew it would improve my data analysis skills. Course content was also very challenging and enjoyable. With the advent of quantum computing on the horizon, learning the fundamentals of topics like Photons will stand by me when I have to re-skill in years to come.

Set up a Year 8 coding club. Why? I find it important to get students passionate about programming from as early an age as possible. This was a rewarding initiative to be involved in given that the students learned new skills every week, many of which I only acquired at AS Level. This club was very successful!

Why PwC? If you are applying for Software Engineering at QUB, I would encourage you to apply for their initiative. If you are fortunate enough to receive an offer, you can look forward to gaining a wealth of experience from experts and a vast network of connections. You apply through UCAS as you would for any other course so there’s nothing to lose! More details about the benefits of being sponsored by PwC can be found of their Careers website.

Ronan’s story is another great example on how an apprenticeship has been the pathway for him to take to get into the IT sector, from reading Ronan’s story you can see the steps he has taken to build his knowledge and skills along his journey that will help him in his new career. For more information about why you should consider a career in IT click the link, and continue to look out for the Bring IT On team at Department for Communities job fairs, Bring IT On information nights and school career fairs.