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Mark's Journey from IT Trainee Scheme to Lead IT Practitioner

Mark joined the Met Office in 2011 through the IT Trainee Scheme. Through hard work and endeavour, Mark now works as a Lead IT Practitioner and is an integral part of the Met Office's Technology programme.

1.      What attracted you to the Met Office?

 I had previously been working in IT for 10 years (after doing a Computer Science degree) and was looking for a change of career but didn't know what it was that I wanted to do. I saw the advert for the IT Trainee scheme and saw that it offered a chance to try out a wide variety of different roles over two years and thought "Yeah, why not!". They were also a large employer, relatively close to where I lived that also had a large IT operation.

2.      How did you start working at the Met Office?

 I applied for the IT Trainee scheme, which was an opportunity to spend two years doing numerous different jobs around the IT part of the Met Office. After an online assessment, an interview and a group exercise, I was offered a place on the scheme and accepted.

3.      What kind of training and development opportunities have you had at the Met Office?

Numerous. As well as the on the job training that everyone has, there have been various training and development opportunities including:

  • ITIL
  • Introduction to Meteorology course
  • Training to make me more effective at my job (Red Hat Certified System Administrator, and Red Hat Certified Engineer, Java, Python, Puppet, and others)
  • Membership of a professional body (i.e. British Computer Society)

4.      What experience have you gained while at the Met Office?

I’ve developed my communication skills greatly. The knowledge and skills I've needed on my route from IT Trainee to Lead IT Practitioner have also been vastly different to anything I did outside of the Met Office; so much of that time has been spent learning new things about my chosen field.

5.      How did you get into your current role?

A number of things:

  • Hard work - not shirking the difficult tasks - and always being willing and eager to get stuck in or help out and being willing to take on difficult tasks
  • Making sure that I finished the things I had started!
  • "Owning" a solution to something (or several somethings) - basically being the authority on it
  • Getting my name recognised for being reliable, doing a good job and talking to people
  • Personal development - researching areas you are weak in and learning about things that will create a positive impact whilst choosing training that will make you more useful while still being relevant in the future
  • Improving the workload of your teammates and introducing more efficient ways of doing things, assisting, and mentoring people.
  • Developing good communication skills.

6.      What sort of things have you been doing in the last 12 months?

  • Mentoring a number of people
  • Design and development of the Scientific Desktop environment
  • Working on the Linux Virtual Desktop Infrastructure project
  • Working on the service queue

7.      What do you get up to day to day?

This one is a bit tricky as every day is very different. Some common themes I have are:

  • Get into the office early to catch up with any issues that may have occurred overnight and investigate if there were any
  • Refresh my memory about what I was working on the previous day!
  • Go to the IT Operations Brief to get an idea of any changes that might affect my area
  • Answer queries in areas that I'm the expert in
  • Progress on any scheduled work

8.      What does the role involve that people might not expect?

Lots of talking to people. People want to know how things are going, if you have a fix, what they can and can't do, who to go to for help, when something is to be expected and a number of other things. In addition, there is a lot of thought and research into processes and how can they be improved or removed - it's not all about doing!

9.      How do you think your career might progress at the Met Office?

I've only been in the Tech Lead role for a for a short while, so I think it's a bit early to think too far into the future. I'd like to get used to this role and see what sort of impact I can make, but I would hope that I would be able to progress my career in Infrastructure further in the future as it is an area that I quite like.

10.  What does the Met Office give you that you feel you couldn’t get elsewhere?

Having worked in private industry before coming to the Met Office, one really good benefit, aside from the opportunities to progress, is a really good work-life balance - I currently work compressed hours so that I can take a day off to spend looking after my three year old son.