Jake Cooper with Atos' SVP for Human Resources Kevin Wilkinson, at the 2013 Atos Apprentice Awards

I'd like that job: Jake Cooper, junior technical support specialist

After trying out college and deciding it wasn't for him, Jake decided to investigate different routes into a career in IT. Fifteen months later he'd been given the title of Atos Apprentice of the Year 2013 and completed his on-the job training.

What’s your name?

Jake Cooper.

Where do you work?

Atos.

What's your job title?

Junior technical support specialist.

How’d you get there?

I completed a year at college and in that time obtained a Subsidiary Diploma in IT. The course was for two years, but after a year, I decided that college was not the best option for me. I didn’t like the lack of working hours and the amount of practical work we completed was minimal. That’s when I took a look at the various ways I could get into an IT role.

I came across a fantastic site run by the National Apprenticeship Service. When applying I came across QA Apprenticeships, passed QA’s test and was on their books. They helped me get an interview with Atos and I started my role as a technical apprentice for the Web Technologies team back in September 2012. I completed 15 months of on the job training, was awarded the title of Atos Apprentice of the year 2013 and have now successfully progressed to my current role.

What's the day-to-day experience like?

My work on a day-to-day basis is exciting and very unpredictable. One day I could be helping to manage websites for our public and private sector clients and the next I could be attempting to stabilise an entire network for 30,000 users, perhaps increasing the Internet speed or if more serious, restoring the entire service

What did you expect when you started work?

I was very surprised with the responsibility and respect that I was given – it was so much more than I had in school and college. I only expected to do basic tasks like answering phones when I started. However, within a couple of months I was helping make changes to major systems, working on servers with high importance and fixing network issues for customer executives.

How long did it take you settle into the job?

I did feel like the new kid on the block when I joined as it was an entirely different environment to what I was used to. It seems silly to say now, but during the first week or two, I didn’t understand that I could go and make a drink whenever I liked or even get up from my seat, as I was used to set times from my days back in school and college.

The Atos Web Technologies team I work with has been great. The people there made me settle very quickly and I can honestly say that without them I would be nowhere close to where I am currently. I can’t thank them enough.

How would you describe life as a working engineer?

It’s difficult and challenging in many areas, but that’s a good thing. You have to present yourself in a very professional way as you will be speaking to senior managers and customers and representing your company.

However, you also have to be competent and confident in your knowledge of your own system. You have to show other teams that you know what you are talking about otherwise they will not listen and take you seriously. Sometimes it is better to take control of the situation rather than sitting on the sidelines.

What are the best and worst things about the job?

The best thing about the job is waking up every morning and not knowing what I will be doing. Every day is different which is what excites me.

Sometimes the role can be frustrating, as it’s so challenging. For example, it’s not always easy to identify where a fault can be found. A particular fault may require numerous teams to be involved and trying to understand the other teams system is tough, especially when I support many different customers, each with different systems.  

Is there any advice you’d like to pass on to those about to enter an engineering workplace?

Try your hardest. I know that saying it can sound a little bit clichéd, but it’s 100 per cent true. I believe you’ll get nowhere in life if you don’t go into everything fully committed. I work more hours than I am contracted to, but this is so that I can reach targets and provide a better service to our clients.

What do you think you'll do next/what are your career plans?

My aspiration is to one day become a technical architect. To get there, I want to stay at Atos and first become a senior specialist in the web technologies field and then gain wider experience – for example in networks, desktops or servers and possibly even an application support team such as messaging or middleware. The more I know about all fields the better technical architect I will hopefully one day become.

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