Madiha Khan, who came to the UK from Pakistan in 2006, was one of those people. For her, being accepted into the course was a life-changing moment.
“Before I started CodeYourFuture, I was struggling financially,” she says. “Although I had a technical background in Pakistan, I’d been away from the industry for a long time and couldn’t find a way to pursue a career in coding. When I came across CodeYourFuture, I realized it could be my chance.”
Madiha worked hard to complete the entry tests, and was delighted to be accepted for the course in 2019.
“When I was told I could join the program, the feeling was amazing. They understood my passion for coding and knew how to make my dream come true.”
The course takes place every Sunday for eight months at CodeYourFuture’s offices in London, and requires around 30 hours of self-directed learning each week from the students. “At times I found it difficult,” admits Madiha. “I was working part-time and had my hands full looking after my two boys. But I told myself that I wouldn’t get this chance again, so I burned the midnight oil and pulled myself through it.”
In this course, the students learn coding languages and build applications for their professional portfolios and practice presentation and interview skills – all supported by volunteers from Capgemini.
“The support we got from the Capgemini volunteers was incredible,” says Madiha. “They help you all the way and give lots of their own time. It made me want to complete the course even more because I didn’t want to let them down.”
For Madiha, one of the most important skills she picked up was how to approach new projects. “They teach you how to learn – and get to grips with new technology quickly.” This has been invaluable since she joined Capgemini as an employee. “Rather than holding my hand, my manager has pushed me. It’s been challenging, but I’ve been able to draw on my classmates for support.”
Now, Madiha is giving something back to the program that was so important for her. “I’m a mentor for some of the new students, and I’m responsible for making sure they’re supported. It’s a fantastic feeling to be helping someone change their life the way I was helped to change mine.”
Sally Caughey, UK head of digital inclusion at Capgemini, was responsible for setting up the program with CodeYourFuture.
She says: “Throughout this partnership, we’ve learned a lot about the true meaning of diversity. I feel enormously proud when I see our students full of confidence and ready to start their careers.”
“I also find it incredibly satisfying to see recent graduates like Madiha passing on their knowledge and experience by mentoring the next wave of students,” says Sally. “Our Capgemini volunteers are really passionate about what they do because they get so much out of helping the students develop.”
Crossing the digital divide
One of those volunteers is Sanyia Saidova, enterprise architect, who was keen to participate in order to address the digital divide in society. “I signed up as a mentor because I support Capgemini’s ambition to ensure advances in technology are inclusive,” she says.
“I wanted to participate to gain a better understanding of the digital divide and learn what I can do to reduce it. I know that businesses, communities, and individuals can all benefit, especially as society moves closer to automation. And, as well as supporting my mentee in helping her find work and reach her goals, I’m learning a lot about how I can improve myself.”