60 Second Interview: Mobile device specialist

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Dean was 12 when he built his first computer, so he's always been into tech. The IT apprenticeship at TransPennine was the perfect fit for him. Now he's loving his challenging role as a mobile device specialist. 

Name: Dean Sidlow

Company: TransPennine Express

Industry: IT & The Internet, Rail

What is your job? Mobile device specialist

How long have you been doing this job? 3.5 years


IT, Software, Web and Telecoms Professionals NVQ Level 3 

1. What was your very first job?

My very first job was working in a design studio. I started as a junior, helping the designers with small illustrations and designs. I feel like I have come a long way since then.

2. What did you want to do when you were at school?

At school I always fancied a career in the armed forces.

3. How did you find out about the industry?

At first I didn’t know too much about the rail industry. But after seeing the apprenticeship opportunity at TransPennine Express, being invited to an open day and going along to the interview, I was really impressed. Now, after being at TransPennine Express for 3.5 years, I have gained loads of knowledge about rail but there is still so much to learn which is what I love about working in the rail industry.

4. How did you get there?

From a young age, I have always had a keen eye for technology. I was 12 when I built my first PC and from here my skills have expanded and this led me to look for an apprenticeship in IT.

I saw a few apprenticeship vacancies when I was searching for jobs but the opportunity at TPE really caught my eye. The idea of joining the business at the same time as other apprentices and learning together was really appealing to me.

Doing the Duke of Edinburgh was also something that really attracted me; it was something that always interested me and now having the DoE Gold award feels like such a massive achievement. On completion of my apprenticeship I applied for my current position, mobile device specialist. I feel very proud to have secured this position: it’s a great job in a great industry. 

5. What is a typical day like?

In the world of IT, no two days are alike, from building computers to configuring phones, to travelling to different train stations and staff depots around the UK to fix IT equipment.

6. What’s the best thing about your job?

The best part about my job is that’s it’s a great mix [of tasks]. The work is enjoyable and challenging enough to stay interesting, while the atmosphere is really what keeps me going. I also like the free cakes when it’s someone’s birthday...that’s a nice bonus.

7. What is the most challenging thing about your job?

The IT department at TransPennine Express is a small but effective team. There are six of us all together and between us we manage 1000+ users and many servers and computers. Organisation is key to keeping on top of everything but it can be hard.

8. What advice do you have for people who want to do what you do?

IT and rail is a fantastic career to get in to. There are many paths you could choose from within the industry, from IT management to building websites to configuring networks… the possibilities are endless. Since IT is always evolving you’ll never be without work. Rail is evolving too.

9. What things do you wish you’d known before starting your career?

Before starting I wish I knew what other avenues of IT I could have gone down. I would have love to have started in networking but it’s never too late to start studying. There are many roles within the IT industry, such as desktop support, network administrator and many more. So it’s good to set yourself a plan. I have set myself a five-year plan of what I want to achieve from my work.

Currently I’ve worked on a couple of projects for TransPennine, including rolling out new mobile devices and migrating all our mobile devices and sims to EE. In the future I would love to do some more project work.

I think with any job it’s good to set yourself targets and work towards your goals.

10. Where would you like to be in 5 years?

In 5 years, I would like to be in more of a specialist role like network administrator. What I do at the moment is very generalised and not specific to one thing, I do little bits of everything. I would say I’m like a jack of all trades in the IT world. 

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