From Zaire to degree apprenticeship graduate

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Last week our second group of degree apprentices, including our first 3 females to complete (representing 23% of the cohort) received their final qualification results.

100% of the cohort achieved a 2:1 or above, a truly fantastic achievement all round.

Huguette, one of our first female degree apprentices to complete, joined us in 2011 (see featured photo for her higher apprenticeship graduation) and shares her story so far below,



I come from DRC; a country formerly called Zaire twenty years ago. It’s in Central Africa, the lands of mountains, gorillas, the famous OKAPI… an almost unimaginable natural beauty in the midst of extreme violence.

90 % of raw materials we can find in the world can be found in DRC. From ivory to rubber, Copper to zinc. Oil, gas to uranium. Moreover, the coal, which is currently used in every mobile phone. However, the country is still torn by war and poverty. Sometimes I feel like there is a curse of nature over the country. Every time the world needs raw materials, they have found them there – and each time the human price has become horrendously high.

I have left my country for survival instinct, I have left behind me everything I dearly loved, to find peace, the silence of weapons. I landed in London, in Croydon precisely, discovering the British culture and Londoners’ attachment to their city.

I came here with close to zero level of English. French is my first language. I have been bred and fed with French since my birth. Despite the high similarities between both languages, many French speakers find it difficult to learn English. With my skills and my qualifications acquired in Africa barely recognised here, I had to start from scratch.

I was anxious about the prospect of my future. Friends and relatives have told me that it would take me many years to find a decent job in the UK. Oh yes … Job hunting for an immigrant is “the burden of the Cross” for many.

But I was determined to beat the odds. I needed to align my qualifications with the UK education system, and I was able to get a place in college for a computer course, while at the same time I was learning English. I have always been passionate about technology since I was little. Despite being a girl, I have always been fascinated by computers and technologies. When girls usually spend money on bags and clothes, I spend it on gadgets.

For two years, I have been focusing on finding my way in the education system. I have realised, early enough, that university was not for me. I have heard about apprenticeship, but none of what was offered to me seems to be interesting enough.

In the meantime, I was learning, reading a lot and I have built up a community network through a voluntary organisation helping migrants. There, I have met a lady who gets to know my passion for technologies and she shared to me information about Capgemini Digital and Technology Solutions Degree Apprenticeship. It was the perfect fit for me. I wanted to earn while I learn. Working full-time for Capgemini, gaining a respectable degree and be debt free.

I have been selected as part of the second intake, and I was happy that I found a company that applies diversity inclusion within its recruitment policy, understanding and giving a chance to everyone. This is where a fantastic journey has really begun for me.

This journey has started with a coding boot camp. A three-month preparatory course which is focusing on algorithms, data structures and Java. I have been fortunate to learn basics of coding with experienced teachers. Straight after the boot camp, I was already working on a project with technical and experienced colleagues. I was holding meetings with senior’s managers and was recognised as their peer from day one.

I was allowed to shine in real work projects, in various industries, surrounded by a supporting network, travelling around the country.

Let’s not forget that while I was enjoying working with different technologies, different processes, and working styles, I had also to submit assignments, attend lectures and tutorials and also, sit exams. I remember those nights in the hotel, right after a project Go-live, but still, you have a coursework deadline day to beat. Sleeping only a few hours or missing significant events in the family … This has become a routine in my life. It was very challenging, but I was determined to achieve it. You feel accomplished when it’s over. And the rewards are countless.

What’s next? I do not know what tomorrow holds, but I know who holds tomorrow. I am enjoying my career at Capgemini. It’s a continuous learning journey. With the support present in Capgemini, I am sure I will achieve my career goal.

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