Enrolling to do a Graduate Apprenticeship (GA) at Robert Gordon University (RGU) was a life changing decision for Olta Sema, a member of the Applications Solutions team in the ICT department at Aberdeenshire Council.
Originally from Albania, Olta (29) grew up in Italy where she studied law and worked as a financial advisor for an insurance company.
She moved to Aberdeen in 2013 and completed an HND in Administration and IT at the North East College before beginning her GA with Aberdeenshire Council last year, studying for her BSc in Computer Science.
“When I saw the job advertised it immediately got my attention because it offered both a full-time job and a valuable degree in a field I like,” Olta said.
“Had it not been for the GA programme, the natural step once I completed my HND would have been to continue on to the two-plus-two programme at RGU, studying towards a degree in business management.
“However during my time at college I enjoyed the IT subjects more than the admin ones and this is one of the reasons I chose the GA position.
“I was excited by the opportunity to work while I study and I feel privileged to be part of the GA programme. This is definitely something I would recommend to others. It was an important decision for me to make because personally I think it has been life changing.
“The experience so far has been amazing. The support we get from Aberdeenshire Council, our mentor and other colleagues has been fantastic. I’m constantly putting into practice what I’m learning and this has encouraged me to learn more. I have the opportunity to broaden my knowledge and gain the necessary experience that you can only get when you build products that go into production.
“I realise the importance of having a sound theoretical backbone in the form of a degree but also the importance of having actual real-life experience, especially in such a practical field. Given this programme provides both it seems like the best possible start I could get for a career in the software industry.”
In her role at Aberdeenshire Council Olta is currently involved in the User Experience (UX) design, development and testing part of the software development cycle.
“I work two days a week for the UX team where I review and assess the content of the Aberdeenshire Council website and I spend the rest of the week in the development team working on a .NET application and on other systems,” said Olta.
“My main aim after graduation is to continue to progress my career in software development. My goal is to be technically independent and fully productive in my work place after completing the degree and I’d like to combine the role of User Interface (UI) web developer and UX engineer. I also hope to pursue and study for a Master degree after completing the programme.”
by Rob Smith
Press and Media Enquiries
GAs provide fully funded structured training to degree and MSc level for full-time employees – a great way to upskill your staff and make your business more productive.