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10 Years On… Celebrating Our Very First Apprentice

Posted on: March 23rd, 2018 by Simon Swords

A Decade at Atlas!

This year marks a very special milestone for Atlas and one of our employees.

Steve joined Atlas as our very first apprentice at the ripe old age of eighteen, in November 2007. Very quickly proving his worth, he was soon offered a contract outside of his apprenticeship, and just three months later became a fully fledged member of the Atlas team.

Having applied to University to study Computer Science upon leaving college, Steve soon lost interest in the idea of ‘uni life’ – as much fun as the social scene could have been, a three-year time investment and a stockpile of debt at the end of it didn’t seem logical. It was then that his uncle who works in a school suggested that he look into apprenticeships. After visiting his local apprenticeship provider, Steve decided that this would be the perfect balance between working and learning.

To begin with, many of Steve’s duties involved general office tasks; and since he had no formal training as a programmer, he learned primarily through on-the-job training. The founders of Atlas provided most of Steve’s training.

What sort of work did you start with?

‘Being an apprentice, I got a lot of the rubbish jobs in the start like posting letters.’

Steve proved to be a fast learner and was very soon able to begin working on small projects for the company; his first ever undertaking being to design a portfolio website for a photographer who shared the building with Atlas at the time, for which the team were paid with a complimentary photo shoot! The results of which can be seen below!

What was your first ever project?

‘The first project that I had complete ownership of was a portfolio site for a photographer who worked in the same office building as us. As payment for this, she kindly took everyone at Atlas to Southend pier for a company photo shoot. While we were there we were put into various poses which included the classic Beatles Abbey Road crossing – at one point, passers-by confused us for a boy band posing for our next album cover – I still don’t know if that was a compliment or not. Afterwards, we went into Adventure Island, Southend’s premier theme park, to get some photos whilst on the bumper cars and various other rides. While we were in the park, we were put into more awkward poses with even more people around to stop and stare at us. A personal favourite was having Simon run past us again and again in an attempt to get the perfect ‘action’ shot. I’ll never forget the confusion on people’s faces as they walked past.’

From there, Steve moved around different projects, getting exposure to various technologies and customers.

Steve now works on our large projects and is known for his personable and friendly approach to customers. So much so, that customers often make a point of asking to work with Steve each time they require additional development.  Steve’s approachability helps even our most non-technical customers feel at ease and, as such, Steve has worked across many industries. In fact, his favourite part of his role is being able to ‘jump across different industries’, as it has given him the opportunity to gain insight into all sorts of sectors from manufacturing, to retail and even human resources software.

Having worked his way up the ladder from Apprentice to Senior Software Developer, Steve can now fluently sit and talk geek with the rest of the team, make suggestions on how best to improve day-to-day projects and, most importantly, help our new apprentices to learn the way he did.

Is there any advice that you would give to your 18-year-old self, given the knowledge that you have now?

‘Yeah. Don’t release on a Friday! I only did that once. I suppose I would trust in myself a bit more. I get easily anxious when I know it’s gonna be fine. So, just relax.’

Since Steve first joined Atlas, the team has flourished to eighteen strong and is continuously growing. We have taken on many apprentices since the company first started out – both of our co-founders were, in fact, apprentices. By offering these positions in the company, we’re able to engage with young people who want to pursue a career in the IT industry. We thrive by teaching them how we work at Atlas, and it is a credit to both them and the company to see them grow with us.

When asked whether he sees Atlas as being in his future long-term, Steve said ‘that’s the golden question. I don’t think I’ll be going anywhere anytime soon’. His ten-year work anniversary is a major landmark occasion, not just for Atlas as a company, but for our team too, and we sincerely hope that it won’t be the last.

Congratulations Steve. Here’s to the next 10 years!

10 years is a pretty long time. Do you feel that there have been any highlighting moment?

‘There have been a few over the years – signing my first professional contract and losing the title of ‘apprentice’, seeing (and being involved in) the company grown from the initial four people to nearly twenty, and making it to ten years. I must be doing something right!’

A Message from Steve to Simon and Dean.

‘I just wanted to show some appreciation on my 10 year “work anniversary”. Thanks for taking a chance on 18-year-old Steve and sticking by me when I knew absolutely nothing. All of your help and guidance has helped me get to where I am today and hopefully I’ve managed to repay some of that investment. You guys are awesome!

Simon Swords


Managing Director

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