Northcoders is an organisation in Manchester that runs technology boot camps. We chose to work with them because they have very similar values to ThoughtWorks, not just in best practices but also in their mission to tackle the under-representation of minorities in technology roles.
Diversity and inclusion are an important part of ThoughtWorks DNA. We don’t want the route to tech just to be open to those who have the advantage of going to university and studying computer science or similar - which is taken into account in our application process for the scholarship.
The scholarship is open to anyone who can pass a basic technology test, along with a questionnaire from Northcoders. I then interview them as I would a graduate joining ThoughtWorks. If they are successful, they are awarded a scholarship onto the 12-week boot camp, along with a bursary to help towards living expenses when out of work. There is no commitment for them to join ThoughtWorks afterward, but of course, we would love them to join!
This is the second year in a row that we have run this scholarship, after great success last year. To learn more about the impact that last year’s scholarship had on one of its participants, I caught up with Dorota, a developer who joined ThoughtWorks via the scholarship in February 2019. She told me that the scholarship was a “great opportunity to pursue my dreams, empowering women in tech and helping them to break into their first software engineering role.” Before applying, Dorota was working as a Logistics Assistant in a grocery store. She had taken a few online programming courses in her spare time, but felt her lack of technical education was a barrier to her having a career in the tech industry. I asked her what attracted her to the tech industry, and she said:
“I wanted to become a software developer because it’s really inspiring to me how technology is changing the world, developing industries and influencing our social life. I wanted to make my own contribution in building software applications that make our lives easier, be creative, keep learning new things and work with passionate and talented people.”
The boot camp is designed to be challenging, covering new technologies and best practices, but in a supportive environment where help is at hand. Our goal is to bring more women into tech and enable them to pursue their dream career, and I’m excited about the promise that our partnership with Northcoders is delivering.