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Championing a Coding Career Change
Learnings from a successful CodeYourFuture partnership

Bethan Richmond
Jun 21, 2024

As Capgemini and CodeYourFuture (CYF) announce a new multi-year national partnership to help even more people get started in a career in technology, our involvement in the vocational training programme is set to hit new heights.

In this article, we speak to a CYF graduate and Capgemini programme mentor to understand what makes the course stand out from other educational schemes, how it has evolved over the course of their relationship and the value that both sides take from it.

Capgemini has collaborated with UK-based non-profit CodeYourFuture (CYF) for the past five years, supporting more than 600 trainees, and becoming the first corporate partner to offer start-to-finish support for CYF’s free coding programme.

In 2024, both parties agreed a new national partnership, which will see Capgemini support students nationwide in London, Birmingham, Manchester and now Glasgow. The team will also deliver two new foundational courses to introduce students to coding and digital skills, before they sign up to the software development programme.

But it hasn’t just evolved in size. Learnings along the way have given rise to changes in scope and an expansion in focus.

Sonjide had zero experience in coding when she applied for the CYF course. But having previously worked as a project manager in rail engineering, she had been surrounded by technical team members and found herself curious about digital skills. After watching a YouTube video of a seven-year-old coding, she was inspired to retrain and found the CYF course.

“The key to succeeding on the course and in your career is to be curious, be brave, and be focused on your end goal. Don’t let challenges overwhelm you.”

“Coding is very practical – what you code is what appears on the screen. You get an immediate response from the work you are doing.”

Sonjide Hussain, Project management specialist, Capgemini

Representing the other side of the partnership, Wayne has worked in the technology sector for 17 years and has always been interested in sharing his knowledge with those who were newer to the sector. He volunteered to become a mentor for the CYF course in 2020, soon after joining Capgemini.

“One of my old students told me that the course actually changed her life – she recently got promoted and it brings me so much joy to see how she has grown.”

“I have such admiration for those joining the course with no prior coding knowledge, as it is a very difficult thing to change your career – and even more so if you are doing it later in life.”

Wayne Alexander, Functional consultant, Capgemini

We sat down with them both to discuss how the programme has impacted their careers:

Sonjide Hussain: Because I had no knowledge of coding, I had to attend an introductory course where I was taught basic coding and could see if I had what it takes to keep up on the full course. The full programme then took a deeper dive into more mainstream platforms like JavaScript.

The greatest thing about the course itself was the community you are invited into. The CYF team, the mentors, and even previous graduates all make themselves available for advice and guidance. Mentors, in particular, are a huge source of support and wisdom. They really want to impart their knowledge, but they also show great patience – steering you to work out an issue by yourself first, rather than immediately jumping in to fix things. It really gave me the confidence to listen to my instincts.

Sonjide Hussain: The mentors really act as your main sponsors on the course – pushing you to succeed, testing you on what you are learning, and making sure you understand what you are coding and how it supports the bigger function, rather than just doing the task and not questioning its value. That balance between supporting and challenging is the key to a graduate’s success.

Some of the mentors also became our friends outside of the programme. This helped to humanise them and make us feel that one day we could have the technical knowledge that they have.

Wayne Alexander: Joining the CYF programme was an eyeopener for me as it was completely different to any mentoring I had done previously. Everyone I had mentored before had already been hired by my company and therefore had some level of technical knowledge, whereas the CYF students may not have any foundational knowledge. I had such admiration for those joining as it is a very difficult thing to change your career – and even more so if you are doing it later in life.

When I signed up for CYF, I was given a questionnaire to answer which would give them an understanding of my skillset and personality type. This is because they are trying to match your personality and mentoring style with the student that would best learn from you – an approach that I hadn’t really seen before. But it isn’t that they are trying to match personality types. One of the students I was paired with was much more introverted than me but had asked for a mentor who was more outspoken because she wanted to learn how to be more confident in speaking up and being heard. Obviously, this is a skill that sits totally outside of coding.

I worked with three students on my first course and loved that I got to experience their entire journey – from day one to graduation. Two of those students ended up getting fulltime roles at Capgemini. I got to follow their careers as they progressed in the company and would regularly check in with them on both a professional and a personal level.

I would argue that I got as much, if not more, out of the mentoring than the students did. As a functional consultant I act as the bridge between the customer and our development team, so I have to build strong relationships. The mentorship has really strengthened that ability as I have to communicate effectively with my students and practice active listening – a key skill for both my job and role as a mentor. You have to be able to listen and take on board what your mentee is saying to you. Feedback is also important, both positive and negative. As a mentor you sometimes need to provide harsher feedback to help your students improve, but you need to adjust how you present that feedback depending on the personality of the individual.

Finally, my role as a mentor has also helped grow my confidence in networking and team building as you need to rally disparate teams on the programme and work with different personality types to achieve the same goal.

Sonjide Hussain: Incredibly valuable! While the main focus of the course is to develop your technical skills, it also aims to build your confidence and help you manage pressure, soft skills that every employee needs to make use of at times. The programme also taught me to be more analytical and investigate situations, rather than simply accepting what I was first presented with.

I also really valued the interview support from CYF and the Capgemini mentors. If I had come out of an interview and felt like I hadn’t done a good enough job of selling myself, I could speak to the team and we would analyse my performance to help me to prepare for the next one and ensure I wouldn’t make the same mistakes.

 Wayne Alexander: I completely agree – soft skills are of paramount importance. The developer job description has changed so much since I first started in the industry. Once upon a time, it was solely the role of functional consultants to communicate with the customer and conduct the business aspect of the project – the software engineers would stay behind-the-scenes and write the code. Now both roles have begun to merge, and the expectation is that functional consultants can speak on a more technical level and engineers can be more communicative with clients.

Employees need to be as well-rounded as possible. CYF recognised this and adapted the programme to support the development of soft skills so that graduates are best equipped to enter the workforce.

And they’ve done this in such a way that the students are actually being taught the soft skills whilst building their technical knowledge without ever realising. Most of my students are surprised when I point this out, as it is never explicitly discussed at the start of the course. But when I list the soft skills that are needed for a career, it suddenly clicks for them. When they are working on their technical project, they have to communicate with each other and actively listen to everyone’s point of view. So, when the programme gets to the point where we are actively building soft skills, it isn’t such a change of pace for the students and we are just building on and reinforcing these skills.

I find that creating mock interviews for my students is a super helpful exercise to build their confidence. I tend to conduct the first interview with no prep work or suggestions, as I just want to gauge their base level – based on how it goes, we then work to improve the areas that they struggle with. We also go through their CVs and make sure they are fit-for-purpose and will attract the attention of employers.

Sonjide Hussain: For me, it’s all down to the volunteers, like Wayne, and the community you become a part of. The programme is more than just a digital course that will help you get a job. You become part of a support group that is there throughout your career and is always willing to listen and provide advice. English wasn’t the first language of many of the students I was on the course with. I recognise that it can take a lot of effort and patience from the teaching team to help people build their English at the same time as they are learning a whole new coding language.

Wayne Alexander: As mentors, we volunteer because we care – it isn’t a job, and we don’t get paid. The payment for us is seeing the students overcoming the obstacles and thriving in their newfound careers. As mentioned before, we also get to build our own communication and networking skills while mentoring that we can take back and use during our day jobs. For me, the difference being a mentor for CYF is the bonds you are able to form with the students. You are invested in helping them succeed in the programme. And through the connection Capgemini has with CYF, we see many of the graduates getting jobs with us and continuing their coding career here. It brings me great joy watching the graduates continue to grow and carve their own path at Capgemini.

Sonjide Hussain: If you don’t try it, you will never know your potential. You do need to be brave, but the results could be life changing. If you aren’t sure that coding is exactly what you want to do, just know that the CYF course exposes you to a vast array of job roles within the tech sector and demonstrates how coding helps to open doors to a future career you may never have imagined.

 Wayne Alexander: It takes a certain type of person to be a mentor. You have to have a passion for sharing knowledge and guiding people. If you feel like you have those skills then you will get a great sense of fulfilment from taking part in a mentorship such as this. I love networking and building relationships, so I get just as much enjoyment from watching the students working towards their goals as they do from achieving them.


Bethan Richmond

UK Digital Inclusion Programme Lead
Bethan has spent a little over a decade of her 20 year corporate career as a Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability professional. Following a Masters in Sustainability and Business Leadership at Cambridge University, Bethan moved her focus toward social impact. As the UK Digital Inclusion Programme Lead at technology company Capgemini, Bethan has supported, and helped drive forward a maturing of the CSR programme, to create a purposeful social impact programme, more authentically linked to the organisation’s core business. Through this digital inclusion mission, Bethan is responsible for the success of the UK social impact, volunteering programme and working relationships with national charity partners. Bethan has been responsible for the co creation and delivery of several national programmes with well known UK based charities.