Dan Humphries is a CRM Data Analyst at Aptem. In January 2022 he joined Aptem on the Level 3 Data Technician apprenticeship, but quickly transferred onto the Level 4 Data Analyst apprenticeship when his aptitude for all things data was recognised. Here, he shares why he chose the apprenticeship route and his journey so far.
Why did you decide to embark upon this apprenticeship?
I was a quality assurance and training manager for several years, before deciding to take some time out to travel. My six months away turned into the best part of four years. I returned and found myself in a similar role but was unfortunately made redundant when the pandemic hit. I toyed with the idea of going into further education but decided on an apprenticeship, as this provided the benefit of having an income whilst I learned.
I initially began the Level 3 Data Technician apprenticeship, but felt confident enough to quickly transfer to the Level 4 Data Analyst course. Aptem was very supportive and encouraged the change.
How’s it going?
After almost a year into the apprenticeship, I would say it’s been a positive experience. Although a slight culture shock, having not been in education for a number of years, I have adapted to the pressures of juggling work and learning.
Aptem has been excellent in allowing me to have a day of the week as a dedicated study day, for me to focus entirely on my course.
The course itself provides great exposure to tools, systems, and techniques of data analysis. Initially, learning some of the basic terminology and concepts was a good way to begin. Our next workshops were on data visualisation, with a detailed walkthrough of Tableau and Power Bi. Towards the latter end of the apprenticeship, we learn programming languages, such as SQL, R and Python, as well as analysis techniques, such as linear and logistic regression. The workshops have a good mix of theory and practical, and the tutors are very knowledgeable, helpful, and patient!
What do you think gives an apprentice the best chance of success?
I believe there are two essential elements of succeeding as an apprentice. Firstly, it’s important to maximise the off the job hours and use them to your advantage. There is an exceptional amount of training material online, and I’ve done my best to utilise this. Sites like Datacamp and W3Schools have been brilliant in teaching me the coding languages and helping me become a better data analyst.
Secondly, I’ve found it hugely beneficial to have supportive and considerate managers. Having worked in the apprenticeship space for a number of years, they understood from the offset what I would need to help me succeed. Giving me a dedicated day to study really helps me focus on my course, rather than dealing with distractions which can occur during the working day. They have also been proactive in finding me suitable projects for me to be able to put the skills I’ve learned into practice. This has become extremely useful, particularly when learning coding, as it’s essential to use it before you lose it!
Any tips for anyone considering a Level 4 Data Analyst apprenticeship?
When I set off on my data analyst journey, I watched a variety of videos to get a sense of what it takes to be a data analyst. The one thing that stuck by me was someone explaining the importance of being proactive, and they weren’t wrong! There is so much to learn and part of that learning process if actively seeking the information you need. I’m lucky enough to have support from some excellent data experts within the organisation, but I try not to be over-reliant on them. Google soon becomes your best friend (although soon to be ex-best friend, with the introduction of ChatGPT)!
I have also found it helps to get ahead on the portfolio. From the beginning of my apprenticeship, I have constantly looked at ways to incorporate my day-to-day work within my projects. I try to document all the big projects I am involved in, including noting and screenshots. It’s easy to forget the work you’ve put into certain projects, so keeping a record has really helped when it comes to writing it all up.
It’s a cliché, but you really do get out of it what you put in. Making the effort to go the extra mile with the training really helps you become a better analyst. It’s tough, but very rewarding work!