An interview with the First Female Microsoft Apprentice of the Year

Kimberly Bolton – First Female Microsoft Apprentice of the Year

The IT sector is an exciting, evolving and ever expanding market industry to work in. In fact, 500,000 new professionals will be needed in the UK over the next five years to fill the expansion in jobs and what is a growing skills gap.

A great way to fill this void is through IT Apprenticeships. The Apprenticeship route provides an avenue into IT for those who might otherwise lack the skills and experience to secure a position in the industry. Apprentice’s can secure there desired job and then grow into the role, receiving on the job experience, expert training an achieving industry recognised certifications.

Now all we need to do is inspire young people to take up IT apprenticeships, especially girls! The IT industry is still largely male dominated with only 16% of females taking up technical roles, this has to change. So I thought i’d introduce you to Kimberley Bolton, a fantastic role model for anyone thinking about a career in IT.

Kimberley got into the IT sector through an apprenticeship back in 2013, and she’s been making waves ever since. I conducted a quick interview with Kimberley recently. Here’s what she had to say:

Q. Tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do? 

A. Where to start, I’m 20 years old, living in Maidenhead and currently working at Pythagoras as a Junior IT support consultant and with Microsoft as an Apprenticeship Ambassador. I started an apprenticeship with Pythagoras through the Microsoft GetOn Programme, which aims to help young people in the UK get inspired, get skilled or get a job.

During my apprenticeship I worked in the head office at Pythagoras and attended 5 training weeks IT apprenticeship provider Firebrand Training. I finished my apprenticeship with 3 MTA’s, a Level 3 certificate in ICT Systems and Principles and a Level 3 Diploma in ICT Professional Competence. I then went on to accept a full-time job at Pythagoras, be the first woman to win Microsoft Apprentice of the year and become an apprenticeship Ambassador for Microsoft.

I enjoy inspiring others on the different routes rather than just university and I would love to help get more women in the IT sector.

Q. How did you get your job in the industry?

A. I originally wasn’t sure on where I wanted to go, I just knew I wanted an apprenticeship rather than going to college or university. I started applying for all sorts of apprenticeships ranging from Animal Care to Business Administration. I was keen to see what was out there, and believe I fell into the best opportunity I’ve ever had thanks to Pythagoras and Firebrand.

Q. Have you always been interested in working in IT?

A. I have always been interested in IT, but I had never thought about a career in it. I was ready for a challenge though and knew I had good experience from school so took the leap.

Q. So what exactly is a Microsoft Apprentice of the Year and how did you end up winning?

A. I was nominated as Apprentice of the Year by Pythagoras, who had to answer a number of questions about myself and my apprenticeship. The Microsoft Apprentice of the Year awards were set up to show recognition of apprentices that have worked hard throughout their year of work and give some the chance to become apprenticeship ambassadors, with the aim of inspiring others.

Q. How has winning this accolade changed your life? 

A. Winning this award has given me a large amount of confidence that I can work in a male dominated industry. I had doubts throughout the year into whether working in IT was what I wanted to do. But winning this award and especially getting the chance to go to events and inspire and help others to achieve what I have, has made me realise how important the world of IT is. We’re all a part of a constantly developing sector which benefits everyone, so we should aspire to bring more people into it.

Q. What’s it like to be a girl working in IT? 

A. I love it! At school I was never too popular with girls and find guys a lot more easier to get on with. I think being the only girl on my team gives me an edge, as girls in general think differently. I have a different way of approaching customers, and my team have commented on how relationships with our customers have improved since I started.

I want other girls who are thinking of joining an IT company to know guys really aren’t that scary! They can be great teachers and friends, as many of my colleagues are now my best friends.

Q. What would you say to young women thinking about a career in IT?

A. Go for it and stick at it! Unfortunately our minds do think differently and there will be times you find it too much. You may come across people who believe IT isn’t for girls, but just prove them wrong. There are so many great things to learn, and you’ll find yourself becoming a more unique women.

Use your colleagues and trainers as much as you can, and believe it or not, even if they’re guys chances are they will still be able to relate with you. Don’t worry too much about being in a male dominated sector, as many girls will work in the same company due to other roles such as Finance or HR (not that these roles should only be for men).

Q. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

A. In 5 years I would like to be a Consultant, travelling around the country, meeting clients on site to scope out and build their CRM systems. I hope to keep inspiring other youngsters, especially women into the world of IT and meet some great inspiring women. I have recently set up my own charity which I would love to have fully operational within a year.

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