My Multiverse: Verity Marsterson
Hey Verity! Tell us a little about yourself and your apprenticeship with Multiverse (your organisation, when you started, when you finished and what programme you were undertaking?).
I started my Level 4 Software Engineering Apprenticeship in August 2019, alongside a cohort of 10 other apprentice starters, 8 of which (like me) were also working for Sky.
What are you up to now?
I’ve recently been promoted to an Associate Android Developer in the My Sky App team. In particular, I enjoy working on accessibility (helping improve the technology for those with visual, cognitive, hearing or motor impairments), as well as algorithmic design and UI development. I also get involved in a lot of wider Sky initiatives, where for example I’m a rep for the Tech For Everyone working Group (focusing on D&I across Sky), and chair the local Leed’s D&I group at Sky.
Tell us about some of the key learnings and skills your Multiverse apprenticeship equipped you with that you apply to your role now?
It goes without saying, technical skills. Prior to starting my apprenticeship I taught myself coding by watching YouTube tutorials on my own in my bedroom. As great as that was, having a structured software engineering course, with a dedicated coach taught me so much about programming and software development that I use within my role daily.
I also learnt the hard away about time management and prioritisation. I found that I very easily filled my hours every day with lots of work, but put off the tasks I found challenging with a tag line 'I'll do it tomorrow'. Through my apprenticeship, and particularly working with my mentor, I'm now working on prioritising the things I find most challenging and least confident first and then looking to reward myself with more 'fun' and easy to manage tasks.
How has being a part of the Multiverse Community helped you whilst you were on-programme? (any memorable moments etc)
I got involved in the community hub as an Apprentice Leader, in both the Events Team and later as an Exec Leader in the Outreach Team. As part of this, I organised and chaired a number of events including a panel debate on side hustles, an amplified interview with a young entrepreneur and have presented at a number of different talks in schools and the wider community about the benefits of apprenticeships. For this, Multiverse provided events organisation and public speaking training and while, for the first few events, I was extremely nervous, the more exposure I got with my public speaking the more confident I began to feel. Due to this, I felt that I had gained the confidence to volunteer for these sorts of engagements at Sky where I organised and chaired a charity event around domestic abuse and violence, a presentation around White Privilege and then interviewed ex-professional footballer Clarke Carlisle as part of Men's mental health awareness week. I was really fortunate to have received some great advice and training from the community team at multiverse (in particular Jamilah and Akeem) which, when paired with the fantastic community events organised across multiverse, put me in a great position that allowed me to get involved with more activities at Sky. I now have contacts across Sky and am involved in programmes I am passionate about and genuinely love.
I also really benefited from the Buddy and Mentorship programme, where I really appreciated having an external confidence to talk to. With my mentor, I worked on a number of different skills and goals I was finding challenging and worked on progressing my personal development as part of the scheme. With the buddy scheme, I also connected with a few of different apprentices and found out more about their programmes and their advice for the course. In particular it was lovely to meet a fellow Android developer as I feel it's rare to meet junior developers outside of my team who are working on such a niche technology. I now volunteer as a mentor at Multiverse, and a personal development buddy with Code your Future and am really looking forwards to working more closely with my mentor. I'd encourage any student considering to get involved in a mentorship scheme (at multiverse, within your company or with a networking group) to do so. It's far too easy to rush through the programme picking up lots of new skills without stopping to reflect, and this is a great way to do this.
A Multiverse apprenticeship aims to deliver skills of lifelong learning, networking, and opportunities to connect with like-minded individuals. Now, as a Multiverse Alumni member, how are you using the Community to help you in your career?
I hope that going forwards I'll be able to support new apprentices coming through, just as I was helped at the beginning of my journey. As mentioned above, this is through mentorship but also happy to have students reach out to me, or talk at events if I can help in any way.
Finally, what are your top 3 tips for Multiverse apprentices who are currently on-programme?
If you haven't already, get involved in the community hub! It's a great way to gain skills and meet new people.
Where you can, don't be afraid to bend your learning to the things you're genuinely interested in. With this you'll be more motivated to learn more around the topic and also deliver great work. For me, this was building accessible tech. While my course didn't necessarily cover any material on accessibility, it did cover front end development and the software engineering lifecycle which was linked. I therefore took it upon myself to learn more, and specifically looked to pick up work that allowed me to work on accessibility. I'm now an accessibility champion, run a native accessibility guild, and have people coming to me for advice on accessibility issues (which considering 6 months ago I thought I knew nothing really gave me a boost around my technical skills that I was really worried about before that helped me in my role). All of this work was great for my coursework and portfolio and gave my inspiration for my own accessibility app. With 20% off the job hours built into your contract, this gives you so much space to learn about all the things that interest you and will help you learn where you want to take your career and the things you find more interesting.
Use the label of 'apprentice' as being synonymous to 'motivated learner', and wear it proudly. By this I mean, if you reach out to people within your business and explain that you're an apprentice learning, people will more than likely be more than happy to help you out and support your learning. Many people I spoke to were happier to give me time because they want to help people at the beginning of their career (remembering what it was like when they first started out), and really appreciate talking to people who are passionate about learning. Remember - there are no stupid questions and especially when you're seen as a beginner you can ask all of the questions you want with little expectations (and sometimes even impress your colleagues when you can show off what you've already learnt!)