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Stephen

What is your role in the Technology Division at Goldman Sachs?
I’m based in the Investment Management Division, working in the Fixed Income team within Asset Management. Fixed Income owns and builds systems to facilitate the planning and execution of trades. I am working in the Government trading aligned team and our focus is to improve systems and create applications to make it more efficient for the desk to carry out their day to day processes.

What does your average week look like?
Busy! My week is structured with me going to University at Queen Mary London on Mondays and Tuesdays and the rest of the week I work at Goldman Sachs. On Mondays I have lectures throughout the day for all my modules and on Tuesdays it’s practical lab sessions which is when you use the knowledge from lectures into exercises and tasks. The rest of the week I am at Goldman Sachs in my department working on projects, learning about the industry and meeting people either in the London Offices or over video/phone calls in other offices around the world.  I also put knowledge learnt at university into practice at work to help me understand why and how it is used in a real work environment. My Saturdays are mainly used to study, catch up on work and also do coursework for university. At the start this was difficult but once you settle into the structure it is a lot easier.

Why did you decide to pursue the degree apprenticeship programme?
I decided to do apply to the degree apprenticeship programme with Goldman Sachs because I wanted to gain both a high quality qualification as well as experience within a large, well-known business. I also felt that the full-time university life wasn’t for me but I still wanted to get a degree in computer science and I felt that this apprenticeship would be the best way to achieve it.

What were you doing before you joined the programme?
Before I joined the apprenticeship I was at Coulsdon Sixth Form College for two years. I was studying a BTEC Extended Diploma in ICT and achieved D*D*D* which is equivalent to three A levels all graded A*. I was also studying a BTEC Subsidiary Diploma in Creative Media and achieved D* which is equivalent to one A level graded at A*.

In your view, what are the benefits of studying and working at the same time?
If feel like this is the best opportunity to gain and learn the professional skills, attitude and knowledge required to work in a high quality business. I am also learning new things every week within University and at Goldman Sachs and I am also being taught how I can use the knowledge from university and use it within the business. Another big benefit is that your degree is paid for which means no debt after graduation! Finally, after the four years you may be offered a job to work here full time. This means that you are set for your future if you want to go into the IT/financial industry.

How have you approached balancing responsibilities for your university studies and your work at Goldman Sachs?
When I stared the apprenticeship, balancing the work was very difficult because you are only just settling in but you get given so much work from university. To ease the workload, I first prioritised tasks and work to do in order of most important and least important. On Mondays and Tuesdays I attempt to do most of the university work set. The rest of the week I am working at Goldman Sachs and I focus on the work specifically for Goldman Sachs as I am expected to complete tasks and projects for them. If I don’t manage to get all of the coursework from university done on Monday or Tuesday, I then give up sports or free time and either do it in the evening or over the weekend as the coursework is more important because you can’t afford to fall behind. If you are thinking of applying for a degree apprenticeship then you must understand that the work does eat into free time and evenings so you must be willing to sacrifice spare time and you must also be organised and know how to prioritise.

What’s the one piece of advice from your experience that you would pass on to someone applying to an apprenticeship programme?
What really helped me when I started this apprenticeship was to look up over the summer holidays some basic knowledge on what would be covered within university like Java. I would recommend doing some light self-teaching on things like Java before you start so then you get a slight head start on the course as a lot of the programming you will learn on the course and within Goldman Sachs is in Java. It’s also good to understand how to write simple code and also terminology used within programming. I also recommend to research and find information about Goldman Sachs and some terminology used within the business as this really helped me when I started to understand the business a lot more.