Apprenticeships are a popular choice among students who seek to advance their careers while simultaneously achieving a professional qualification. These programmes give people from all backgrounds the opportunity to enter various industries without prior knowledge or experience. Students can apply their classroom learning to their daily tasks on the job, and conversely, their work experience to classroom learning. National College of Ireland offers apprenticeships in both recruitment and financial services, to learn more, please visit Apprenticeships at NCI.
Thais Vargas is currently completing a Higher Diploma in Financial Services Analytics at NCI which is a Level 8 apprenticeship degree completed over 2 years. Thais works full-time as a Data Analyst apprentice at Aviva Insurance Ireland.
In this blog post, Thais shares her experience on the course to date, insights into working in financial services, and advice for those considering doing an apprenticeship at NCI.
Why did you decide to join an apprenticeship in Financial Services Analytics at NCI?
Pursuing an apprenticeship wasn't the obvious choice for me at first, as I have always been fascinated by entrepreneurship. During my college days in Brazil, I joined the Junior Enterprise Company, where I got the chance to enhance my entrepreneurial skills and contribute to social and economic growth. It was there that my interest in finance began.
I came to Ireland to improve my English language skills for personal and professional growth. I worked as a sales advisor, social media account executive, and customer growth specialist for a couple of years until the COVID-19 pandemic hit and I was laid off. Although I knew I wanted to work in finance, I had been away from the industry for quite some time, and I wanted to improve my confidence and skills.
"I highly recommend doing an apprenticeship at NCI. It is an excellent way to enter an industry and learn about all the different aspects of it."
Doing an apprenticeship at NCI, was the right choice for me as it aligned with my interests in financial services, programming, and data analytics. The course not only enabled me to improve my knowledge of financial services but also provided me with programming understanding in SQL, Python and PowerBI which is a perfect combination for working in finance. The best part of the apprenticeship is that I got the opportunity to work on real-world projects.
Can you share some insights into studying an apprenticeship in Financial Services Analytics at NCI?
The apprenticeship course allows us to work and study at the same time. The programme is divided in such a way that we work for four days and study for one day. Most of our classes are online, but we get to come to campus twice per semester.
Our projects are related to our work, and we have a learning development plan as apprentices. This plan helps us demonstrate our learning and professional development to meet the apprenticeship professional qualification requirement.
The college projects are very practical in nature, and we have two assignments per semester. For instance, I am learning programming language and applying it to my day-to-day role. I also read materials and write reports.
What is a typical day in your work life like?
My role involves creating ways to track performance within the company. To achieve this, I am always in touch with people from different departments to understand the information they need to improve business performance. I review the database and manipulate the data to develop dashboards that display Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and other relevant information. My job is to support departments in accessing information to make key decisions.
We also get to do other fun things. I visited London to participate in an apprenticeship panel where I shared my experience working with Aviva Insurance Ireland. I always look for ways to develop myself, and I wanted to improve my communication skills. I developed a training session on Design Thinking, which many people found engaging. There are also volunteering days where we support our local communities. For example, we helped a school with some repairs, planted trees and flowers, and participated in a beach cleaning day to promote sustainability and protect the environment.
What advice would you give to someone considering doing an apprenticeship in this area at NCI?
My advice would be to understand yourself and identify what you really want to develop professionally and the kind of role you want to work in the field of Financial Service Analytics.
There are various positions available in this area, so it is important to research the roles and tailor your CV to the company you are applying for. Personalising your CV will make it easier for the company to understand your skills and allocate you to roles they need.
I highly recommend doing an apprenticeship at NCI. It is an excellent way to enter an industry and learn about all the different aspects of it. You can also choose the company you want to work for and the kind of role they offer, making it perfect if you are unsure about which career path to pursue!
At National College of Ireland, we offer apprenticeship opportunities in the areas of recruitment and financial services to domestic and EU students. If you are interested in learning more about these programmes, please visit Apprenticeships at NCI or get in touch with our Apprenticeship Co-ordinator, Darragh Brien.