At 39 years and 8 months I am well into my midlife crisis. So far, this has involved trying to “get down” with the kids, wearing clothes that are far too young for me and far too snug, pretending I know what a Tock Tick video is (or whatever they’re called), genuinely considering getting my first piercing, and “investing” in a few more tattoos. Having said all that, starting out in a new career and undertaking an apprenticeship just before my 39th birthday was most definitely not part of said crisis. This change in direction had been something that I had known I wanted to do since 2013.

I was always involved in professional football in some capacity. I have been fortunate enough to work as a Sports Scientist at various football clubs in the UK, and in Europe, achieving promotions, league titles and cup wins along the way. I tend to overlook the relegations I was involved in! I have also had the privilege of working with the senior England national team during their preparation for Euro 2016, as well as a number of the England national youth squads. In between spells at various football clubs I also provided Sports Science support to England rugby league in their three test series against New Zealand for the 2015 Baskerville Shield, James DeGale in his first IBF Super-Middleweight title defence, and Ute Baird who was an ultra-marathon age group champion running 150 km+ in under 2-days through the Alps at altitudes of 3000m.

But, however much I enjoyed the work I was doing, I knew I wanted to step away from professional sport. Physically, I was unable to properly perform my duties due to significant knee surgery and arthritis in my feet. Also, professional sport dominated my weekends, and multiple nights away from home meant I was missing out on watching my children grow up. I performed a SWOT analysis of the role and came to the conclusion that I would like to continue with statistical analysis and data visualisation, as well as broaden my knowledge of software development.

I applied for the position of Apprentice Software Engineer within Microlise’s Academy and was invited to an assessment centre. The day was intense, well-structured and in-depth. I was thoroughly impressed by their approach to personal and professional development; it was clear very early on that the welfare of Microlise employees was paramount.

Kevin and the team decided to take a chance on me and offered me a position. It was probably to see if they could actually teach an old dog new tricks….!

Whatever the reason, I am grateful they did.

Onboarding was seamless, friendly, and efficient. A three-month boot camp with learning outcomes ensued, but no hand-holding was allowed. This period was a whirlwind but was needed. The information learned during this time provided the bedrock upon which all other aspects of development would be built. A further nine months of development followed that progressively improved our capabilities; both as a team and as individual engineers as we worked on various business applications.

I am now into my second year at Microlise and have just started my rotations that will see me work within a number of areas of development. Today I fixed a bug in a business-critical production environment, the code base of which I had no knowledge of five hours ago. If I had been told 13 months ago that I would be doing that, within that time frame, and feeling confident doing it, I would have laughed. Without doubt, one of the best decisions I ever made was to apply for this apprenticeship, and I haven’t regretted it for a single day.