Meet Cobalt's new IT Apprentice

Meet Struan Royston, Cobalt Health’s new IT apprentice

We caught up with Struan, Cobalt Health’s new IT apprentice, to find out more about his new role, why he was attracted to Cobalt and why he decided to pursue an apprenticeship in IT.

So Struan, tell us about your journey to becoming an IT apprentice at Cobalt?

I found my love for IT when I went to college in Trowbridge, Wiltshire and studied a Level 3 Diploma in IT. I had always been interested in computers and networking technologies but it wasn’t until I was at college that I really found my fascination. While at college I built my own PC and started programming and learning programming languages even in my own time. I really excelled at college because it was a more free environment than school and allowed me to learn in my own style (I find I am more of a physical learner so having hands-on input really helps me understand what’s happening). We covered multiple subjects while at college from web design to databases but two really stood out to me and those were networking and security. After College I moved to Cheltenham and went to university for two years to study Cyber Security, while I was studying on campus I could learn easily as we always had access to physical machines that I could use to learn with. However, when the pandemic came around I really struggled to learn over Zoom and Teams lectures because without being able to put what I learn into practice I couldn’t quite understand it. I worked multiple jobs before the apprenticeship. I worked as a bartender at revolution bar in Cheltenham for just over a year then I left to work at CurrysPC world on their knowhow team over the Christmas period. However, due to Covid I had to be let go, and finally I worked making furniture at an independent business for another 4-5 months up until starting the apprenticeship. 

Why did you decide to pursue an apprenticeship?

When the pandemic came around I really struggled to learn over Zoom and Teams lectures. I started looking for an apprenticeship after my second year of university because I wanted to keep working towards my education whilst also developing a professional career, and having the income means I can also support myself without having to find other forms of employment. Whilst on my apprenticeship I am gaining real-world experience and the qualifications and the experience from this will be an invaluable addition to my CV. 

What attracted you to Cobalt?

What really stood out to me about Cobalt was that it is in the medical industry and that it is also a charity which I really admired. I immediately thought that my role within Cobalt would have a positive outcome because it’s helping someone, not just members of staff but patients also. I was also interested in the clinical side of Cobalt and being able to work with some of the scanners and mobile units stood out to me.

 What does your apprenticeship involve and what are you hoping to achieve out of it?

Other than supporting my team here at Cobalt my apprenticeship course involves quite a few different things. I attend college for block weeks once every 4-6 weeks originally at Gloucester College in the Gloucester Quays however it has moved to the Cheltenham campus. During this time we study a range of material covering a unit (for example we studied network security for one of our weeks and this included types of malware and attacks and their outcomes/ goals, how to defend against attacks, how to mitigate damage caused by attacks and more) and then we do an exam based on the unit we’ve studied (I have already passed my Network security exam). I also need to keep track of any training I do, as well and keep track and take evidence of any course related tasks that cover any of the competencies my course requires, such as “Can install and configure network components, including switches, routers and firewall” which I have completed by helping move our backup server to a new site, and mounting new UPS units to support it. At the end of the apprenticeship I will have an overall level 4 networking diploma as well as being CompTIA Network+ certified and having certifications in network security and network systems and architecture. 

How do you like to spend your spare time outside of working hours?

I like to keep myself busy even when outside of work so I do plenty. My girlfriend and I love going to the cinema, there’s something about the atmosphere and environment of a cinema that we both love. I try to keep up with my friends as much as possible, whether it’s going on a night out with a group of my friends, just going out for dinner or even hosting/going to game nights. In my own time I love to cook or bake (I make a tasty mac and cheese) and I love playing video games on my PC. I play Halo, Apex Legends, Hades and currently I’m playing Horizon Zero Dawn.

Finally, what is your all-time favourite movie?

I feel like this may be a controversial choice however I love the Star Wars films and in specific I have to say The Phantom Menace is my favourite.