Sky: Julien Mahé-Crenn

‘Sky helped me develop key skills in communication, teamwork and creativity’

Julien Mahé-Crenn completed a software development apprenticeship at Sky

Why did you choose to do an apprenticeship at Sky?

I’d had a personal interest in software development for a while but hadn’t had the opportunity to pursue it in a professional setting. When I came across the apprenticeship offered by Sky it was the perfect chance to learn more about this industry, as well as having ample opportunity to explore other avenues.   

How did you find out about your apprenticeship? 

I was looking for entry roles into the tech space and one of my friends let me know about the apprenticeship as she had applied for it too. From there I did more research into the role and started the application process feeling adequately prepared for it.

What does your role involve?

My role is concerned with writing the code and defining certain structures of a given project within a team setting. A typical day involves having a team meeting first thing in the morning where everyone is given the opportunity to discuss what they’ve been working on as well as any concerns or queries that might have risen. We then split off into our groups (usually teams of 2 or 3) and work on whichever task we’ve picked up. These tasks can range from bug fixing to implementing new functionality into a project. Our groups rotate regularly, meaning we have a chance to work with everyone and get different insights into specific issues, which is important in coding, as a fresh perspective can be all that’s needed to solve an issue you’ve been struggling with for hours.

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

Sky’s core ideology in my experience has been teamwork. Every one of your colleagues is keen to help you in any way they can regardless of their departments or seniority. Knowledge is seen as something that should be shared freely with everyone. It is through this shared ideal that Sky also supports us, by ensuring all bridges of communication are as easy to cross as they can be, it prevents any of us from feeling isolated or lost and helps to create a comfortable and safe working environment.

Was adjusting to working life challenging?

The biggest challenge I faced was learning new tech stacks and coding languages in order to keep up with the other members of the team. This proved quite daunting initially, but I found that not only was everyone more than willing to help me out and answer any questions I had, but that I’d underestimated my own ability and was able to keep my head above water without too much floundering.

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

My training provider is Multiverse. Our learning consisted of an initial 5-week bootcamp to equip us with the base tools we’d need to thrive in our positions. Following this, we joined various teams at Sky and would have regular two-day events with Multiverse around once a month. These events covered topics not addressed during bootcamp and gave us a more well-rounded training.

What are the most important transferable skills you use?

Communication, teamwork and creativity. All three of these are necessary to thrive in this role. Being able to communicate is paramount to mitigate as much miscommunication as possible, create comfortable workspaces and ensure a proper understanding of all scenarios. Teamwork is not just an ideal at Sky but something that can be applied in your personal life as well as your professional one. Creativity might seem like a surprising skill for a developer, but being able to think outside the box and come up with unique ideas and solutions is important in this job.

How can students begin developing these skills in school?

The main subjects I would recommend for communication would be English, drama and any sort of team-based sporting activities. Learning to convey the same message in different ways for different audiences is a great way to improve your breadth of communication.

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

Any sort of team-based activity, whether that’s sports, boardgames, videogames, etc. Being able to strategise and communicate logic and ideas effectively to those around you is a way of improving both your communication skills and your teamworking skills.

What was the application process like?

The application process for this apprenticeship was challenging, it was designed to test both technical skills but also personality traits too. Some of the technical stages of the application can seem quite overwhelming at first, even impossible, which could discourage some people, however perseverance in these cases is extremely valuable. It’s important to remember that the process is not designed to make you fail, a lot of the time if a task or stage seems incredibly difficult, chances are you are being assessed on your attitude in handling that obstacle more than the actual completion of the task.

How has this apprenticeship helped your career and goals? 

It has helped equip me with a multitude of skills and knowledge, both technical and non-technical. My goal from the beginning of the application process has been to learn the skills necessary to succeed in the tech industry and learn as much about all the moving parts behind the scenes that help our modern tech world run. Through this apprenticeship, I have been able to gain insight into the industry, learn technical skills from very experienced sources and learn about the different paths available to me as a developer. I have always had a vested interest in the games development industry and this apprenticeship has helped put me into contact with people who have knowledge of the industry.

What is your proudest achievement so far?

When you see an idea turn into an actual usable programme and having my ideas and creative input help shape the project into what it ended up becoming was an incredibly rewarding experience. Seeing your project be used by others for its intended purpose is a tangible indicator of your success and your technical skill improvements.

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

Do not be concerned about how much technical knowhow you may or may not have. The only thing you need to succeed in this apprenticeship is a desire to learn and an interest in development. Do not think that because you may not have studied computer science, or you don’t have any experience in coding that you’re not eligible for the apprenticeship.


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