In the next of our Earn as you Learn blog series, Deaglan talks about applying to the scheme, and his tips for the interview process! 

“Has anyone heard of the Kainos Earn as you Learn Scheme?”

This is a question that changed my life! Halfway through Lower Sixth, I had my heart set on studying Computing or Software Engineering full time at university. This was the first I had heard of the Earn as you Learn (EAYL) scheme and expected it to be just another basic scholarship for a few months or something, and not offering much. I couldn’t have been more wrong! After reading more and watching the promotional videos, seeing how much the scheme offered, I knew this was for me.

I have always had an interest in computers and had long aspired to be a software engineer. It was this interest which drew me towards the scheme. What did EAYL actually mean? A chance to study a degree part time, and completing this just a few months longer than a normal degree full time, alongside a full-time job, real experience, and a salary?  And Kainos pays for all your fees? You are probably, like I was, thinking that this is too good to be true!

A year later and the 2016 scheme was launched. As part of the process Kainos hosted an open night, which I’d definitely encourage you to go to. The night was really fun and informative, providing me with the opportunity to gain an insight into Kainos and their projects. I met with students who were currently part of the EAYL scheme and it was great to talk to people who were just like me. It helped me to see that maybe, just maybe, I might actually be successful and get a place on the scheme.

The next day, I started thinking about my application, and that would be my first tip for you!  You should really invest in the Personal Statement part of your application, as this is where you will be able to stand out. Because of my genuine passion for all things “tech”, I had done a bit of learning outside of school, like developing a portfolio containing links to relevant projects I had completed using HTML and hosted this on a web server. When completing the application, you should definitely take your time, and make sure you show your enthusiasm for computing. Talk to your teacher, they will be able to provide you with advice.

During one of many speeches on my last day of school, the phone rang. An unknown number? Half expecting to answer to an offer for PPI I left the room and answered. It was better than PPI! It was Kainos offering me an interview for the following Tuesday!

After a long weekend of preparation, the day of the interview arrived. To say I was nervous is an understatement, but the two interviewers made me feel quickly at ease. I was asked questions about my IT experience and studies. The big piece of advice that I’d have regarding the interview is, don’t be intimidated. If you make it to interview stage, you’ve actually already impressed! Show your interest in the company and really do your homework about Kainos and what they do. I’d also encourage you to prepare some real-life examples for some key skills like team work, problem solving, and being innovative. If you don’t know the answer to a question, be honest. When you join, you aren’t expected to know everything – and you won’t be in the interview.

Shortly after, I received a call I had been waiting on the edge of my seat for. Kainos offered me a position on the scheme!

In my next blog, find out about what happened after this – from turning up on orientation day, to my training, to working on a real project for the Digital Services team!

More about Earn as you Learn can be found here.