Callum’s Story

Why did you choose to do an apprenticeship?

Most people will answer this question with ‘to earn and learn” but truly an apprenticeship is so much more than that, especially with large corporates like BT. The scheme I’m on allows you to study part time for a full BSc (Hons) Degree in Networks or Software at Ravensbourne University located in North Greenwich. The degree is fully-funded by BT and has the equivalence to a degree studied in the traditional method.

One of the key challenges in this job market is standing out, graduates may have a fantastic degree but often lack experience – an apprenticeship with BT solves this conundrum. Even after my first year in the apprenticeship, I’ve made valuable connections and experiences which will help me progress in my career in both the broadcast and technology industries. This is something no amount of money, or degree, could buy. On top of all this, you still receive a competitive salary with fantastic perks for working at a highly respected multi-national corporation. This combined puts people on these new Degree Apprenticeships on an equal, if not greater, footing to peers at universities, as we will finish the scheme with no student debt, a full degree, a career and four years’ worth of valuable experience.


Above: Callum at his desk at the BT Tower in London

What do you do day-to-day in your role?

Most of my days are pretty different working at BT, In TV our apprenticeship lets us change roles every six months in order to gain as wider an experience as possible. For my first role I worked in a technical role as part of our platforms support team. Here I helped both BT employees and external corporate customers, who utilise our broadcasting systems and software. Essentially my role was to help resolve problems when things don’t go according to plan! I’ve now rotated to a role in our Business division; ‘Media & Broadcast’ in Marketing, which is completely different, but is enabling me to see our business from a commercial perspective.
There are many other roles that are available including; rotations that focus on the development and upkeep of software on our apps and set-top-boxes, the provision of our networks to broadcasters and business focused roles like product management.

The key differential to my apprenticeship though is what we do other than our day-to-day role. We are actively encouraged to partake in volunteering opportunities, such as charity events and community work. Last year I even volunteered at the BT Tower to take donations over the phone for Children in Need!

On top of this, there are many events and visits we go on which help us gain a wider understanding of our industry, these have included going to the BBC at MediaCityUK in Salford, Google and Sky’s HQ in London. This is as well as internal visits to other parts of BT like our sites in Oswestry, Madley Earth Station and the BT Sport Studios in Stratford, East London.

Finally, I’m also London regional co-lead for The Apprentice Network where we organise events for all BT, Openreach and EE apprentices to attend like opportunities to meet senior leaders or socials. Combined, this is much more than an apprenticeship – it gives us a wider context and understanding of how the technology and broadcast industries operate.

Callum & friends at the BT Sport studios

Above: Visit to the BT Sport Studios in Stratford
(L-R: Ross Perretta, Luke Hughes, Paige Cook, Callum Elsdon)

Team selfie

Above: a team ‘bothie’ taken whilst on a visit to Google’s London HQ
[L-R: Luke Hughes, Ross Perretta, Georgina Dollery (BT Wholesale Graduate), Phoebe Clifford (BT Wholesale Graduate), Lillie Tedder, Callum Elsdon, Natasha Bacon and Tom O’Brien)

Tell us a bit more about you

BBefore BT, I studied History, Politics and IT at A Level in Sixth Form. I love technology and how immersive it can be, but I’m also a bit of a politics boffin – with Brexit and the election of Trump, I’ve been in my element the past couple of years! Of course, the political themed House of Cards is one of my favourite TV shows! Interesting fact, I once went to Question Time and got my 30 seconds of fame on national TV. Outside of that, I try to go swimming as often as possible, take the dog out for relaxing walks and love visiting new places (I especially want to see far more of Asia).

What do you aim to do in the future and how has your apprenticeship helped with those goals?

Since I’ve only been with BT for the past year in my apprenticeship, I’ve still got far more to learn and discover both about myself and where I want to go in the future. I feel that being in a massive multi-national like BT and in the dynamic area that is TV – I’ve realised that this is the industry and part of the business I want to work in.

Do you have any tips for people looking to do an apprenticeship or choosing their options?

Having gone through the application process for several companies and spent a year in a degree apprenticeship, there’s certainly some tips I’d give. For people who are in their last year of college or sixth form these are the top three pieces of advice I’d suggest:

  • If you’re unsure on whether university is for you, or you want to get a degree but don’t want the debt take a look on the internet (with sites like GetMyFirstJob, corporation’s early career sites and GOV.UK) for Degree Apprenticeships. Most importantly, for people like me who wanted a degree but also experience and no student debt it is the perfect solution which can be found at a whole host of high-class, blue-chip firms like BT. Apply for as many of the schemes as you possibly can, and of course, study hard to get good grades.
  • Even if you want to go to university, don’t completely disregard Degree Apprenticeships as there is a wide variety of schemes available for all different professions.
  • Do what’s right for you, don’t fall into the trap of letting an educational institute push you into going to university. Further education isn’t right for everybody, and neither are apprenticeships – people learn in different ways, and finally, the education system is catching up with the introduction of Degree Apprenticeships.

BT Tower

Above [L-R]: The BT Tower, view from Level 34 on a summer’s day, and at night

By Callum Elsdon, 2nd Year TV & Digital Media Degree Apprentice at BT

Information about BT apprenticeships can be found here¬†and for information on BT’s TV & Digital Media Degree Apprenticeship scheme click here.

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