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Take the non-traditional career path, embrace imposter syndrome, and don't underestimate soft skills to maximize the value of an apprenticeship. Here are three lessons learned from two recent Meta apprentices.

The career journey of a software engineer isn’t a one-size-fits-all model. Candidates may take a winding path, leaving hiring managers with a challenge to assess their aptitude for a role. This is where apprenticeships can come in really handy, as software engineers can develop their skills on the job, while hiring managers get an opportunity to see how they apply their skills in the context of their role.

If you are looking to understand how apprenticeships can develop your team, here are three lessons learned by Georgia Haddock and Joshua Laurence following their recent apprenticeships at Meta.

Lesson 1: Everyone has their own unique career journey 

Georgia admits that becoming a software engineer was not her childhood ambition. After getting a degree in Maths and French, she explored a bunch of career paths, from starting her own sustainable fashion company, to stints living abroad. Then, in January 2022, she wanted to develop a more technical skill and decided to take a Java coding class, soon followed by an apprenticeship working as a full stack developer on the Whatsapp team at Meta.

She embraced a winding path. “What might surprise people is that I actually put my success in getting the job down to my mixed bag of experiences. I would encourage anyone to consider weird and wonderful avenues, particularly at the start of their working lives,” she said. 

“Ensuring that the work I find myself in is explorative, diverse and curious is, in my eyes, a must. We are so lucky to live in a time when a one-track career is no longer the only option. With every new opportunity, it is all too easy to ask yourself, “Am I closing more doors than the one I am opening?”, but often, any experience allows you to grow as a person and affords you the chance to see the world through a new set of eyes.”

Joshua had seen dozens of guides to applying and interviewing for developer jobs, but decided to do things his own way. For his apprenticeship application, he pulled together four old programming builds on GitHub, added short descriptions, and listed how they showed off different skills.

What did he learn? While a bit more preparation would probably be best, everyone won’t have “followed the perfect regime of preparing thousands of coding questions and doing hundreds of hours of revision,” and an unconventional path can lead to success by challenging yourself with interesting projects, rather than following the textbook.

Even with the right skills, it can still be challenging for junior developers to get a foot in the door. Through Multiverse, Joshua was able to land the Meta apprenticeship. “I’m forever indebted, since they showed me how I didn’t need to go to university to get a chance to land a good job,” he said.

Lesson 2: Imposter syndrome is normal

“Starting my new job at Meta, as it would be at any company, was a healthy combination of exciting and nerve-racking,” Georgia said. ”The most common fear I have encountered time and time again has been that of stepping into a room and being the least experienced person there.”

As an apprentice, Georgia quickly came to realize that “it really is impossible to know everything,” particularly in an environment like Meta, where there is a huge codebase and volume of tools to navigate. Instead of feeling overwhelmed, Georgia chose to embrace a learning mindset.

For Joshua, the feeling of imposter syndrome grew every day as the start date got closer, but things got easier once he had a keyboard in front of him.

“We started with a massive JavaScript bootcamp, and considering the first time I’d ever coded in HTML, CSS, or JavaScript was literally one week prior to starting this job, I worried that I’d screw it up,” he said, “Things just seemed to fit, and the more I did, the better I got.” 

Lesson 3: Don’t underestimate your transferable skills

“Calling soft skills ‘soft’, does them a huge disservice,” Georgia said. “Communication, adaptability, problem-solving, emotional intelligence, creativity, conflict resolution, and resilience are often not listed on job adverts, but companies want them.” 

Apprenticeships are normally landed based on potential more than hard skills. Georgia quickly realized that she shouldn’t beat herself up for not understanding something, but rather by demonstrating her ability to communicate with colleagues, ask good questions, conduct self-led research, and solve problems creatively.

Unlock the power of software engineering apprenticeships

Apprenticeships can be a useful recruiting tool to uncover talent in unusual places. By encouraging measured, applied, guided, and equitable (MAGE) learning, Multiverse has helped over 1,000 companies close critical data, AI, and tech skill gaps in their workforce, by encouraging apprentices to apply what they learn within the context of their own role. Whether your goal is to upskill and reskill yourself, your employees, or recruit high-potential talent, our approach can help you build the right capabilities to unlock transformation.

If you’d like to empower your team with future-proof skills, or think an apprenticeship could be the right next step for you, get in touch with the Multiverse team to learn more.