If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to take on an apprenticeship within a digital design and development agency, then Stuart has some answers.

In his early 30s, he joined us here at 4FX as a mature Software Testing Apprentice and is already proving to be a valuable team member. We grabbed him for a chat about what his apprenticeship involves, switching careers and building on his software skills.

1. What did you do before joining 4FX?
“I worked in retail for 13 years. I was at Iceland for 10 years, gaining knowledge and promotions until I reached Assistant Manager. I then joined the Co-op as a Team Leader, working three days a week, to give myself spare time to study software development.”

2. Why did you want to do an apprenticeship?
“Mainly because I can gain hands-on experience transitioning into the IT industry to help me develop my skills further. I also benefit from support systems and learning aids by being surrounded by other like-minded and more experienced individuals on the team who can share their expertise with me.

“Another reason is that I get paid to learn new skills while still being able to provide for my family.”

3. What will you be qualified in when you complete your apprenticeship?
“I’ll be a Level 4 Software Tester Qualification with an ISTQB-BCS Foundation Certificate.”

4. How long is do you study for?
“The apprenticeship runs for 18 months, plus a further three months afterwards to complete the exam section if needed.”

5. What does a typical day look like? What are the main things that you do in your role?
“A typical day in the life of a software tester here at 4FX involves working alongside the developers and across our range of created and bespoke applications and websites to test these systems and to uphold them to their specified requirements. “The process involves using documentation or walkthroughs to base my test form. I then write user stories about who would be using the app, what they want to achieve and how they wish to accomplish their goal. From the devised test cases I then design the test and log them in our Azure DevOps portal before executing and running the tests.

“Next, I analyse the results against the defined specifications. Any defects, bugs or deviations found are logged with substantial detail. This is very important for the developers to debug any errors. The more detail I include, like steps to reproduce and screenshots with annotations, the easier the developers can debug or fix the issues found.

“The end goal is to increase the product’s quality standard through testing and to reduce deviation from the client’s set criteria to achieve a high-quality product which works well and meets their specifications.”

6. Would you recommend an apprenticeship scheme to others? Why?
“Yes! I find it incredibly beneficial to learn interesting and evolving techniques working in a real-world environment with like-minded people. Why wouldn’t you?!”

7. What do you hope to do at the end of your apprenticeship?
“I’m looking forward to continuing in my role and learning more software development languages so that I can debug some issues myself and create my own testing tools.”

8. What do you enjoy doing when you are not at work?
“I enjoy spending time with my ever-growing family, discovering new music and practising my guitar.

“I also enjoy listening to podcasts and playing video games with my friends online.”

Julie King, Co-founder and director at 4fx, says…

“We’re really pleased to support Stuart with his apprenticeship and are proud to work with Digital Natives to develop the next generation of software specialists.

“Stuart is such a nice guy and brings lots of ideas to the table. He’s hit the ground running, undertaking lots of testing and problem solving, which is really helping free up time for the developers. Plus, he’s proving a natural fit within the team.

“His tenacity for finding problems and solving them, along with troubleshooting bugs, is very impressive. I hope that through this apprenticeship, we’re playing a small part in helping Stuart to build a successful career within the industry.”

For more information about working with 4fx, visit www.4fx.co.uk.