‘I never thought about an apprenticeship’

Julia Loh was interested in changing courses to study computer science until she heard about another pathway to a career in technology

'Best of all, we are paid to do this apprenticeship, and there is a chance that, towards the end, you can become a ‘converted’ into a full-time employee,' says Julia Loh

I never thought about an apprenticeship. I was always academic in school, so I was 100 per cent sure that I wanted to go to college.

I started a degree in applied language and translation studies. Before college, I had always enjoyed languages. But, in college, I quickly learned that I enjoyed them as a hobby, but it wasn’t something I wanted to do for a career.

I was halfway through first year when I asked if I could change to computer science, but it was too late: my only options were to stick with the course or drop out of college and come back next year.

I was stressed about this, as I finished school during Covid-19 and had already taken a gap year. I didn’t want a second year out of education, but I knew that I wasn’t in the right course.

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So I decided to drop out and go for that computer science course. That’s when I heard that Salesforce were running technology apprenticeships.

I didn’t know much about apprenticeships, or about Salesforce. I always thought that apprenticeships were in areas like plumbing or administration. I looked into it and saw it was a two-year, evel six course supported by FIT (FastTrack into information technology).

It combines on-the-job learning with classes in the Baldoyle Training Centre.

I am one of seven apprentices in my group, the customer centric engineering (CCE) team. We learned about coding languages, and we get to apply this at work, giving us a chance to learn as we get more accustomed to using different programming languages. We do a lot of application testing, testing and debugging.

Best of all, we are paid to do this apprenticeship, and there is a chance that, towards the end, you can become a ‘converted’ into a full-time employee.

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I am about three quarters of the way though and I am loving it. It is such a different path to get where you want, because people usually do computer science in college, then an internship and then hope to get converted. I get to do it in two years, which is a much more efficient use of my time.

It’s great to have employment at such a young age. I enjoy the stability, I am happy to be doing something I like for two years, and I love the atmosphere in Salesforce. It’s a friendly company where trust is our number one value, and I have colleagues who will always take the time to sit down with me and explain things to me.

At the moment I am working on creating a product with another Salesforce apprentice. It is nice to know that we are valued as people who can help our company, rather than just as people who need to be taught.

– In conversation with Peter McGuire