Keratuwe, 22, moved to the UK from South Africa for a gap year - but she stayed to study for a degree. After realising university wasn’t for her, she signed up for the Tech Talent Accelerator run by Multiverse and Generation - and went on to apply for an apprenticeship at Westminster City Council.
Now she is nearing the end of her Software Engineering apprenticeship at the council.
I was introduced to software engineering when I was in high school. My first programming language was Delphi - my interest in software engineering piqued from there.
I came to the UK for a gap year, but decided to stay and get a degree. When it came to uni, I was originally applying for more traditional degrees like computer science. Then I saw there were lots more ways to study programming that were more practical. I liked playing games, so I thought I’d try Games Programming.
I spent a year at university but decided it wasn’t right for me. It wasn’t as stimulating as I thought it would be. It wasn’t horrible - but I didn’t see myself doing it for the next couple of years and I didn’t want to waste my time trudging on.
My mum had heard about the Tech Talent Accelerator and shared it with me, so I signed up as someone who was interested.
What I liked about the Accelerator was that it wasn’t just about programming - it also helped me develop soft skills that I didn’t have confidence in. Things like how to showcase your skills to potential employers. I didn’t know the correct jargon or the correct language when speaking to people in business. It taught me so much.
After completing the Accelerator, I got support from Multiverse with my interviews. We did mock interviews, they looked at my profile for me and gave me advice to make it perfect. They check if the quality is good before it gets sent to employers and answer any questions or address any doubts.
I applied for a few roles. Westminster gave me an offer within a day. I was really interested in what they told me about the workplace, and realised my goals were aligned with there’s.
It’s been a steep learning curve, but it’s been exciting and WCC have always been very open. They encouraged me and gave me all the training I needed. I wasn’t expected to know everything.
Looking at where I was last September to where I am now, it’s so different. You can see the difference in the quality of the work, my confidence, how I work with colleagues, and my own technical and people skills.
I prefer the apprenticeship because it offers a different study method, instead of traditional schooling.
Learning through an apprenticeship is not just constrained to just submitting an assignment and getting it marked. A lot more of it is on the job training. Learning how to programme, create applications, testing - but in the context in the workplace where you know that whatever you’re making is going to impact a broader community.
We do have some exams - but Multiverse really makes sure you have the time and resources to thrive in those exams. We also get objectives every month, my coach gives me something new to build upon - a new learning experience. It means I get to learn about topics that I might not come into contact with at work, so I’m never stagnating.
I finish in March, but this experience has encouraged me to keep learning and shown me what I’m capable of. I want to keep expanding my skills in different areas, and with different technologies.
Keratuwe’s top tips for apprentices
There’s a misconception about who can do an apprenticeship - they feel like it’s not for them or they feel underqualified. There are people on my apprenticeship who have never programmed before!
If you’re looking to get into software engineering, do some programming training courses online and have a go first.
There’s so many companies hiring right now, so think about where you want to work: what sort of environment you want to work in; what sort of pace do you want; private or public sector; do you want to get the full-stack experience, front-end, back-end?
Go in with the mindset that you’re here to learn. You might feel a bit of imposter syndrome but don’t let it get to you - remember you’re there to learn and that’s all you need to worry about - learning and making progress in a way that you can measure.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions!