As International Women’s Day is celebrated around the world today (March 8), we are championing two of our recent graduates, Mhairi Fraser (21) and Marla Chalmers (20) while highlighting “Women in Tech”.
Both have just completed an 18-month apprenticeship with the School of Automation (SOA) and are poised for a career in RPA, now working on live projects for clients.
We sat down to talk to them about their journey and just what it’s like to complete the course…
Mhairi from Glasgow, came across the course in 2020 after initially taking the university path in education. She explained: “I had done a year of university and I failed my second semester exams, and I then really thought about what I wanted to do. I was applying for jobs, and then covid hit. My mum saw something on social media about SOA, and I thought I might give it a try.
“I did have to do some initial googling to find out what RPA was - but I think everybody comes into it not knowing exactly what it is. But once you read up about it, and you start putting it into practice, it really helps you to understand.”
The course began remotely during covid, but Mhairi said she found it quite seamless.
“Everything is on Teams – If I was struggling with an assignment and thought it was just me, I could ask a question on our group chat and someone else would be having the same issue - and it was a relief. I say it’s like “High School Musical” –We are all in this together!”
Mhairi has struck up a great friendship with Marla, and they have found out they share the same birthday – albeit a year apart.
“At start of the training project we were both so awkward and now we are really good friends. When it comes to the apprenticeship and skills, I have gained so much confidence with the support that has been offered from my peers and the team at SOA.”
Mhairi has been working on one main project since July 2021, and is currently the longest serving team member on it, so a lot of continuity tasks fall to her.
She said: “Each project is a bit different but you recognise your role in it and the different challenges that come with them. It really is interesting.”
And looking to the future? She plans to continue growing her skills in the RPA field.
“There’s just something really fun about it – like solving a puzzle almost! I can certainly see more females in tech too – for example on some of our projects it has been a 50/50 ratio – and on the client side too, which really is reassuring.”
Marla, from Glasgow was on a business administration course before embarking on the apprenticeship.
She explained: “I remember going in with no big expectations when I started, and like Mhairi I didn’t really know what RPA was, but it’s been great to learn so much over the course of the apprenticeship.”
Along with Mhairi and the rest of the team she started working remotely during covid, and found that as they were all in the same boat, it gave them all reassurance together.
“We didn’t have too much to compare it to as it was how we started, and as everything was online, it was fine working remotely. In fact, when we first when back into the office I wasn’t sure I’d like it – but actually it was really helpful to all be together and to talk to one and another instantly if we needed anything.”
And as for the apprenticeship and course itself?
“It really has been crucial in building my confidence – for me, the technical side tends to come naturally, but communication doesn’t, so it has really helped me develop that. I am working on my fourth project now and it has been so good to learn what I am doing to help the wider team.”
“Women in tech is growing – I was in a mixed school and was always one of two girls in computer classes, but I wasn’t too worried by that. It’s great to see more females coming into this field.”
Does the thought of a career in RPA interest you? Get in touch with our team today!