I impulsively applied to university after leaving sixth form, through clearing, to study Computer Science. I was persuaded by my former teachers that this would be the right thing to do because I received good grades during my BTEC. This was during peak COVID times and I found the university experience miserable. It was definitely not the experience I once envisioned. I left the course early and was at a crossroads with what I wanted to do next. I didn’t feel like I was done with education but I also wanted to get my foot in the door with industry. That is ultimately why I chose an apprenticeship.

I joined Paragraf as an apprentice in January 2021, studying a Level 3 course in Applied Science at Cambridge Regional College. I found Paragraf on the government apprenticeship website and, after an interview and a tour of the labs, I was hooked. After the Level 3 course came to an end, I knew I wanted to stay at Paragraf but I wanted to continue my education so I asked if they would sponsor a Level 6 BSc (Hons) in Data Science and they agreed!

Harry being interviewed by Kamal Ellis-Hyman of Aim a Little Higher for the Early Careers Show

My work at Paragraf is quite varied: completing Data Analysis for the graphene Hall sensor (GHS); providing insights to Research, Development and Production; conducting data engineering work with our database to streamline our data pipeline and working with small machine-learning models to find patterns in our data that may help with predictive analysis.

I really enjoy my apprenticeship. I get to collaborate with some of the smartest people I’ve met, working on projects that are quite literally on the fringe of science. I enjoy the process of learning about topics I had no idea about before I joined and applying my understanding that I’ve brought from university to make me valued, all whilst getting paid to do so.

Pursuing an apprenticeship has prepared me for the world of work in many ways. I think the balance between studying at university and working in industry has accelerated both my personal and professional development. I get to learn the theoretical knowledge at university and immediately apply knowledge that in my work. One benefit of apprenticeships that I don’t think is spoken about enough is how it also works the other way around – I learn a lot of stuff at work that makes it easier when I’m being taught the extra theory at university. Studying an apprenticeship gives you the best of both worlds – gaining a formal qualification and getting hands-on experience at the same time. It provides an insight into industry and teaches you to become adaptable because there are often not perfect scenarios like you’re shown in university.

Being at the forefront of technology, Paragraf has an ever-changing dynamic which means that being adaptable and flexible is rewarded and encourages you to step out of your comfort zone in an effort to learn new things. Closely collaborating with so many great minds mean you never lack any inspiration.

If you too are ready to help transform the electronics industry in a full-time or apprentice career opportunity at Paragraf, visit https://www.paragraf.com/careers/ to see if we have an opening for you, or get in touch with us today.

Harry Dorken is a Data Science Apprentice at Paragraf.

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