Makers Apprentice Awards Spotlight: Orla Dunlop, a DevOps graduate at the Department for Work and Pensions

Makers
2 min readFeb 26, 2024
A photo of Orla Dunlop,DevOps graduate at the Department for Work and Pensions holding a laptop smiling at a office setting.
Orla Dunlop, DevOps graduate at the Department for Work and Pensions.

“The most important thing the apprenticeship gave me was learning to feel comfortable being uncomfortable — giving me the freedom to grow and pick up new skills without being as inhibited with the fear of the unknown”

What were you doing before your apprenticeship?

I was working in a non-technical role at the DWP, following graduating from university with a History degree. When I joined the DWP, I’d intended it to be a stop-gap as I figured out what I wanted to do. However I ended up wanting to stay with DWP but I didn’t know how to find a role that had a clear career path without any relevant qualifications — so I started to look at apprenticeships as a way to forge a new career path. I ended up choosing an apprenticeship in tech because I’d always lamented the fact that I felt like I’d “missed my chance” to learn to code and get a career in tech.

What was a highlight of your apprenticeship?

One of my highlights was when I joined the engineering team towards the end of my apprenticeship. I found I was quickly able to keep up with the other engineers, to participate in complex conversations and even help other engineers with their blockers. I didn’t feel like “the apprentice engineer” — working with a whole new group of people highlighted to me just how far I’d come as an engineer and really went a long way to squashing my imposter syndrome. It was just a really nice feeling.

A photo of Orla Dunlop, DevOps graduate at the Department for Work and Pensions at AWS Summit in London.
Orla Dunlop, DevOps graduate at AWS Summit in London.

Is there anything you would have done differently?

I was really hard on myself initially when I struggled to pick things up as quickly as I’d like and I often compared myself to the progress my fellow apprentices were making. So, I would have put less pressure on myself and believe that in time I’d get there.

What are your hopes for the future?

I’m working on getting promoted — hopefully jumping up two grades in the process! But apart from that I’m really happy where I am for now. I started this whole journey because I wanted a fulfilling career at the DWP and I’ve got it. I work on a team with really great people, working on a really interesting product where I think I’m really going to mature as an engineer.

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