PwC: Ashleigh

Ashleigh is on the Flying Start technology degree apprenticeship at PwC. She is finding work-university balance at the same time as the skills necessary to build a chatbot

How is your time split between university and PwC?

“As a technology degree apprentice, I’m a full-time student and attend the same lectures as other computer science students at the University of Birmingham. However, once the university year is complete, I then start a 10-week placement with PwC. Throughout the degree, I will complete three placements in total. For my first placement, I have been based in the tax, technology and investments team in the Embankment Place office in London. My role has involved creating a chatbot to be used internally within PwC.”

What’s a day like at PwC?

“My day begins with our daily team standups, where we discuss what we did the day before and what we plan to do for the current day. We focus on how we can produce the best product and how we can demonstrate that in the shortest amount of time. We also have a weekly meeting to review what we have recently added to our projects, such as the chatbot we are currently working on. I spend a lot of time developing the chatbot and trying to work out how to integrate the different tools onto our cloud platform.”

How does your degree help you in your day-to-day role?

“Developing the chatbot is quite a technical role. The work on my placement is helping me develop my knowledge on topics I have previously learnt, such as programming in JavaScript and creating and manipulating databases.”

Why did you choose to do a degree apprenticeship?

“I was certain I wanted to do a degree apprenticeship after researching my options during sixth form, however I felt worried that I’d miss out on the ‘university experience’. That’s really not the case with this programme as the placements with PwC and the academic university work do not cross over, meaning you can devote your full attention to either one. The knowledge and experience gained from the programme with the University of Birmingham and PwC will equip me with the skills needed for a successful career in an ever-advancing field. My favourite thing about the programme is that there is no catch. The degree is fully funded by PwC and we also get a salary from the start. All being well, I’ll also have a job lined up at the end of my degree if I achieve a 2:1 degree class.”

Do you have any tips on staying organised, time-management and working in a team?

“At the start of my placement I learned how to communicate effectively with my colleagues and ask for help when I was unsure what to do. Everyone has been really supportive, regardless of grade. It was clear to see that everyone on my team was happy to help and wanted to hear any ideas I had.”

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

“As part of my placement, I spent a week as the ‘agile scrum master’; this role involves planning and leading the daily and weekly meetings. I found that it was important to have strong leadership and organisation skills, as well as the ability to communicate effectively.”

What advice do you have for someone who wants to do your role?

“Be prepared to take every opportunity presented to you and have the confidence to expand your network with those in all areas and levels of the business. With regards to both university and work life, organisation is key as the workload can vary so you need to plan ahead.”

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