Digital Apprenticeship Alumni conquers lockdown learning
Past the finish line, we talk professional growth with Digital Apprenticeship Data Analyst Alumni, Lyndsey Longson
We caught up with Lyndsey Longson, Systems Operations Manager from Sovereign Group, who has now graduated from the Data Analyst Apprenticeship's first local cohort. Read on for highlights from her learning journey, along with her first-hand experiences of lockdown learning.
What did you think of your time on the Digital Apprenticeship?
I had a positive experience during the enrolment process, classroom sessions and exams. All were well structured and communicated. My virtual classroom tutor was thorough, good-humoured, and was effective at breaking down complex material into digestible chunks and ensuring everyone understood before proceeding to the next lesson.
Having a dedicated Learning and Development Coach throughout the program was extremely valuable. Monthly LDA check-in meetings were scheduled to discuss my progress and ensure I was meeting all criteria. If I had any questions between those sessions my LDA was available via email and always happy to assist. The 16 months went by at lightning speed, which must be a good sign!
What did you learn from the Digital Apprenticeship?
The apprenticeship was broken down into three areas - The What, The How, and The With Whom. The vast majority of the 5 classroom sessions and the exams related to “The What” - the technical part of a Data Analyst role. i.e., data life cycle, data preparation and cleansing, structured vs unstructured data, database design, implementation and maintenance; statistics, data mining, linear models, time series analysis and forecasting.
We also learned the basics of popular data analysis tools; such as R Studio, Python, Excel Power Query, Orange, SQL Server Management Studio, and Power BI; in order to create dashboards, statistical graphs and plots, tables and charts, and effectively interpreting the results and explaining the outcomes.
"The How” and “The With Whom” are soft skills that the apprenticeship required us to demonstrate competence in, by way of a portfolio of work-based assignments. “The How” refers to the skills, knowledge and behaviours required in my role, e.g. innovation, prioritising actions, dealing with unexpected occurrences and changing circumstances. I was encouraged to gain an understanding of wider business objectives and the key factors which shape the way the organisation functions, such as regulation, data protection and data security. We were also required to show an awareness of our own strengths and weaknesses, how our job fits into the organisation as a whole, and who else in the business is important for us to fulfil our role effectively.
“The With Whom” required us to demonstrate an ability to manage relationships with customers/clients, colleagues and stakeholders. This included setting reasonable expectations, choosing appropriate methods of communication, encouraging teamwork, dealing with conflict, influencing others and incorporating their ideas and views, understanding requirements, and gaining support from stakeholders.
"I would highly recommend such an apprenticeship to others. Having an opportunity to learn in such a flexible way, and directly apply the learning to your role and the business as a whole is fantastic."
What was your favourite part of the Digital Apprenticeship?
Learning Power BI, R Studio and Orange was a great experience for me. I love working with databases, systems and tools, and learn best by “driving” rather than watching a lesson. Having a chance to try these tools out on a remote desktop, with sample data sets and walkthrough tasks ready to go made getting to grips with the software much less overwhelming than going in blind.
Would you recommend being on this apprenticeship scheme to others? If yes why?
I would highly recommend such an apprenticeship to others. Having an opportunity to learn in such a flexible way, and directly apply the learning to your role and the business as a whole is fantastic.
With processes being further automated and digitalised in the wake of the pandemic, this is the perfect time to strengthen our data insights for more efficient and informed decision-making. Guernsey is seeing the need for digital skills and such roles increasing rapidly. Not only will businesses benefit greatly from having apprentices on the scheme, but individuals will be boosting their opportunities for career progression in the local digital sector for many years to come. It’s a win-win.
With your new qualification on hand, what's on the horizon for you? What are your plans for the future?
The new skills I have obtained are allowing me opportunities to work alongside staff in other jurisdictions, giving me greater exposure to the business as a whole and raising the profile of the Guernsey office across the Group.
I am already identifying ways I can use the tools I learned to support our business objectives. For example, I am currently busy building dashboards for effective MI at Board Meetings. Additionally, I am hoping to assist with the implementation of a data warehouse for easier access to insights across all business areas in the near future.
Longer-term, whilst data science isn’t something I have much exposure to in my current role, I very much enjoyed learning the basics and look forward to seeing what the future holds.