The Tech Talent Accelerator - the joint programme between WhiteHat and Generation UK - will help 100 young people from London, who are not in employment or education, to pursue their passion for software engineering and break into the tech industry.
50 aspiring Software Engineers have already completed the programme with 26 young people joining the first cohort. Half of the participants from the first cohort have already been hired into apprenticeships with some of the UK's leading employers like Depop, Unilever and Westminster City Council.
We caught up with three graduates who have now secured WhiteHat apprenticeships. Introducing three future tech leaders: Fatima Kissi Traroe, Devashish Acharya and Denise Namutebi.
What inspired you to get into tech?
Fatima: “The massive impact technological software like ZoomText had on my life by allowing me to see, study and work, despite my visual impairment. I also believe that innovative technology is one of the key tools humanity has to solve some of our biggest challenges like the climate crisis, social inequalities and illiteracy.”
Denise: “I had always wanted to work in tech but whilst studying in Uganda I had limited access to technology. As soon as I returned to the UK after my A-Levels, I dived into tech. The work experience and various courses I did online strengthened my resolve to become a Software Engineer.”
Devashish: “I dropped out of uni to find something I was passionate about. I worked as a Prison Officer at a local prison whilst figuring out what I wanted to do. After extensive research and testing out different areas of the tech industry, I was driven towards software engineering. I started exploring different companies doing software engineering apprenticeships, however most looked for a background in coding. This is when I came across the Tech Talent Accelerator Programme.”
How did the programme help you get into the tech industry?
Denise: “Learning hands-on was quicker and more enjoyable. The programme provided advise on almost every aspect of my journey from how to approach potential employers, to how to handle different work situations, providing a lot of confidence during my job search. WhiteHat gave me access to a massive pool of potential employers. They made sure I had all the right tools to succeed in an interview such as relevant background knowledge of the company and boosted my confidence through one-on-one interview practice with coaches. ”
Devashish: “The profile I had made on WhiteHat meant that employers could easily see everything about me and with all these perks, it made my application process flow extremely well and helped me land my job with WhiteHat as my apprenticeship provider. After the final project, with the aid of WhiteHat, I started applying to various apprenticeships. I went through many interviews and constantly practiced coding alongside it. ”
What were the main skills you developed on the programme?
Fatima: “I learnt more about web development, API, unit testing and code refactoring, effective communication, teamwork and stakeholder management.”
How did the programme help you overcome barriers into tech?
Devashish: “The first barrier I was faced was not having a technical background. Even with clear interest and passion, I had nothing to show for it except for lessons I had taken during my own time. My lack of interview knowledge was also something I would have struggled massively with if it wasn't for WhiteHat's training.”
Denise: “My main barrier was how I would present myself to employers. Since I was self-learning and my work experience was mainly retail-based I found it hard to highlight the relevant skills necessary while applying for apprenticeships. WhiteHat worked with me to enable my profile to show a true reflection of skills and personality.”
Fatima: “I had little technical experience as well as a case of imposter syndrome. I overcame these barriers through the code bootcamp, mentoring program and series of inspirational tech talks organised by WhiteHat.”
Congratulations! You recently landed a role, what are you enjoying and looking forward to most?
Devashish: “I have been accepted for a role as a Software Engineer at Unilever. The area I am most excited about is actually working on the development side of things and starting to understand and structure my own code on software that has our products.”
Denise: “I have secured a role as Software Developer at Westminster City Council. Working in the council will enable me to have a closer look at the problems that affect the communities I will be serving. I would love for my skills and ideas to have a positive impact, I see it as investing in society.”
Fatima: “I am looking forward to working as an iOS developer at Depop, within a supportive team and being an active part of DEPOP growth, gaining new technical proficiencies.”
What are your ambitions for the future?
Devashish: “In the future, I would like to perfect my coding skills and start leading and doing my own projects. I love the idea of being an innovator, having my name on a product that is used by millions excites me deeply. Through coding, I would like to do just that and make some kind of impact, however big or small, on the technical world.”
Denise: “I want to be the best software developer I can be. Learning new technologies and working in different teams across the world is what I aspire to do. I also would like to help support young people like me, who are struggling to get the right skills or opportunities and hopefully guide them to a career in tech. I feel like the Tech Talent Accelerator and Whitehat have changed my life and so many others and would love to see people be given the same chances I have.”
Fatima: “I want to become a senior iOS developer, gain two industry certifications and train as a SCRUM master by 2025.”