Sky: George Ayre

’Being an apprentice at a company like Sky and the opportunities it presents shouldn’t be taken for granted’

George Ayre completed his level 4 cyber security technologist apprenticeship at Sky

Why did you choose to do an apprenticeship at Sky?

I always knew I wanted to work in IT and overtime found that I was more interested in the cyber security aspect (mainly because I’m awful at coding!). At the time I couldn’t find many cyber security apprenticeships available, but as soon as I saw that Sky ran this programme, I applied immediately. The scheme sounded interesting and the idea of working for Sky, one of the leading media companies, was a no-brainer.

How did you find out about your apprenticeship? 

I found out about the apprenticeship through the NotGoingToUni website. I was looking through the site and came across Sky, which peaked my interest.

What does your role involve?

Every day is different, but we are responsible for reviewing the security of projects and providing security support to different areas of the business. My days can vary from being on a call with a project team to reviewing diagrams of a proposed system.

What’s the culture like at Sky? How are you supported? 

The culture at Sky is very inclusive, with emphasis on collaboration and stretching yourself. There are so many groups you can get involved in, such as LGBT+
@Sky or Multiculture@Sky, so you’ll always find people to connect with outside your team. During the apprenticeship you’re provided with a whole support network who are on hand if you need it, including the early careers team, your training provider, your team and even other apprentices! Everyone wants you to succeed and they will provide as much support as possible for you to do so.

Was adjusting to working life challenging?

I joined Sky having already been in full-time employment, so my experience is likely to be different to those who are school leavers. However, starting any new job can be challenging and I think it is normal to have some anxiety/imposter syndrome (I know I certainly did). My biggest challenge was overcoming that imposter syndrome, but I soon felt comfortable as I got to know my team and the role more, I was able to contribute in meetings, which just showed me that I belonged and had earned my place.

Who is your learning training provider and what does the learning for your qualification consist of? 

QA is the training provider for the cyber programmes. The learning consists of a mixture of live sessions delivered by trainers, online courses and videos, immersive labs (used to practice your skills in a live environment) and workplace projects where you detail the work you have done to support your learning.

What are the most important transferable skills you use in your role?

Teamwork is the first one I would pick out. Sky is big on collaboration and encourages people to work together on issues or brain-storming to find the best solutions.

Communication is another big one at Sky and it comes hand-in-hand with the teamwork skill. In your role it’s likely you’ll be communicating with a broad range of people so having strong communications skill is an advantage, but you’ll develop them overtime while working here. Lastly, problem solving is the skill I would say I use most. As Sky is a fast-paced environment, there’s always something going on and in my role we often help teams overcome problems, so to be able to effectively problem solve and think critically is important.

How can students begin developing these skills in their school subjects?

All these skills can be developed within school across subjects. Teamwork is vital in sport, for example, but also to group working across subjects. Communication skills can be developed through classroom presentations.

What can young people do outside of school or college to develop these skills? 

Problem solving is a good one to do outside of an educational setting, as you can join brainstorming groups who look at a problem together and the different ways to solve the issue. Businesses use this quite widely and Sky even has their own internal group of people called the “BrainTrust” to do just this.

What was the application process like? 

The application process was straightforward. There are three phases in the process. First, you complete a standard application form. Next, you’ll be asked to complete a couple of digital assessments, which allows Sky to see how you work and fit into their culture. Finally, you’ll attend an assessment centre. This is where you come together with other applicants and complete tasks to show how you work as a team and independently. After this, if you have been successful you’ll receive a call from the Early Careers team offering you a role!

How has this apprenticeship helped your career and career goals?  

The apprenticeship has massively jump-started my career in cyber security. It has allowed me to gain a qualification alongside two years of industry experience. It has also allowed me to map out my career goals and see where I want to get to and by when. Being an apprentice at a company like Sky and the opportunities it presents shouldn’t be taken for granted.

What advice would you give to someone applying for or considering this apprenticeship?  

I would just say go for it and be yourself! Sky care more about you as a person rather than having an in-depth technical knowledge, especially when it comes to apprenticeships. This apprenticeship is such a good way to get into the industry and, in such a large organisation, the opportunities are endless!

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