Born in Bedford, Waj Ali, is an active 22 year old who enjoys playing cricket for his club Queens Park Westfield Cricket Club and county (Bedfordshire County Cricket Club 2nd XI) as well as playing football and badminton. In his spare time when he’s not hitting some kind of spherically shaped object, he is gaming or socialising with his friends.
I sat down with Waj one almost summer morning to learn all about his role at Bluebell IT Solutions and his apprenticeship with JBC Skills. One fun fact I learned was that Waj has built his own gaming PC, needless to say I am jealous, but more interestingly still he would never have been able to build it himself without the skills he has gained from both his apprenticeship and Bluebell IT.
What is the title of your position?
Waj: “So, my current title is a Technical Support Analyst. I started off as an IT Infrastructure Apprentice and I am currently transitioning from that role into a full Technical Analyst.”
Why did you decide to do an apprenticeship?
Waj: “That’s a good question. While I was at school I was interested in- or I had the idea- of going to Uni, doing a degree etc. but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I was interested in finance, economics, IT and computing from a young age. That was always kind of what I wanted to do, but I didn’t want a big debt or cloud over my head; I wanted that financial freedom. I found that an apprenticeship was perfect for me because it allowed me to gain practical experience as well as learning on the job which is perfect.”
How did you hear or find out about JBC Skills and Bluebell IT Solutions?
Waj: “I applied for a number of apprenticeships through the government apprenticeship website. And two or three of them came back and Bluebell IT Solutions were one of the ones that interested me most.”
What was it about Bluebell IT Solutions that attracted you? Why did you decide to pick Bluebell IT Solutions?
Waj: “Well, I had the initial interaction with Seb and Ben which was great. The company was still in its infancy then, and I was the first person to join the team! This was exciting for me because while I think joining an already established business is good, you might not get the opportunities or the speed and level of growth you do in a young company. It was just great timing for me. I’m glad I decided to go with Bluebell, I haven’t looked back since.”
The apprentice positions you applied for, what was it about that position that attracted you?
Waj: “So, I’ve always been good with computers and it’s always been a passion of mine. You’ve always got to start at a lower level to get your skills and experience up. So being on IT Support and responding to support queries and learning from experience, as well as working with highly experienced individuals like Seb and Ben was really great for me. I’m just trying to be a sponge and take in all that I can, so I can continue growing and evolving with the company.”
What was your experience of JBC Skills and Bluebell IT Solutions during your apprenticeship?
Waj: “Both were very supportive. At work, especially during my apprenticeship when I had to do my portfolio, I was always given help and time from both Ben and Seb to allow me to focus on it. At JBC Skills my mentor, Rigel, was very helpful along my journey. So, you’ve got the training course where he teaches you and because we’ve got a small sized class it means Rigel can dedicate his time to each of us individually as well as to the class as a whole. And whenever I’ve had any questions or queries, he’s always been able to answer and help me when needed.”
What do you enjoy most about working at Bluebell IT Solutions?
Waj: “In terms of my role, I really enjoy problem solving and dealing with different challenges each day is quite fun. At Bluebell IT Solutions specifically, the working environment is amazing. Our company model is very different compared to our competitors; in terms of how we operate and how we want to be successful with our customers and building those relationships. Ensuring that we are delivering on our promises, and even when we have had to work from home, because of lockdown, we’ve been able to adapt and still deliver to our clients. It just shows how great this company is.”
What did you enjoy most about doing your apprenticeship with JBC Skills. What was it about them that stood out to you?
Waj: “Again, I would say really supportive and encouraging people and always helpful throughout it. And the environment they put into place for us was really good and helpful for our development and learning.”
So, you have just finished your level three apprenticeship, so what are your plans now? Have you progressed in the company? Are you furthering your education?
Waj: “I am just starting my Level 4, so this is focusing more on a networking advanced role compared to the level 3. I’ll be looking at network IT in more detail, I’ll be able to gain a qualification at the end and gain more practical skills that I’ll be able to bring back to Bluebell IT. In terms of my role I moved from an IT Infrastructure Apprentice to a Technical Support Analyst. Alongside the Level 4 Apprenticeship I want to do some other vendor qualifications like Microsoft Qualifications, so I can build up my experience and expertise there. Just lots of learning.”
What are your goals for the future? What are your career aims?
Waj: “I think I’m getting to the point where I’m understanding more of what I want to do and where I want to be. At the beginning I just wanted to get started and learn as much as I could, and I still want to keep learning, but because IT is so vast, I want to be able to specialise in an area, but at the same time I don’t want to limit my skill set. One area that interests me and is ever growing in the IT industry is cyber security. My manager, Seb, is a big champion of security, as you know already, so I have a great advantage being able to learn from him and seeing his thought process on day to day things. I’d like to fulfil that role and be the security specialist for Bluebell IT. I think that is the direction I want to go in.”
Amazing, sounds like we’ve got exciting things to look forward to from you in the future. Thanks for taking the time to talk to me today Waj.