CodeYourFuture (CYF) trains people from underprivileged backgrounds in coding and employability skills, and helps them find good jobs in the tech industry. While developing our trainees’ technical – or ‘hard’ – skills is a big part of what we do, we also foster their professional development through ‘soft’ skills like problem-solving, teamwork, making decisions and managing people. Our experience connecting coding graduates with opportunities has shown that having a combination of both ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ skills is the best way for them to break into one of the world’s most dynamic sectors.
In response, we recently launched our Leadership program. The program is designed to give those looking to develop their careers the chance to put their leadership skills to the test. Participants are challenged to use their people and outreach skills to make CYF the best possible place for those with limited opportunities to launch their careers in tech.
We sat down with Hinde about her experience on the program, and how she used what she learned to take her career to the next level.
Journey to CYF
After completing her Masters degree in Engineering six years ago, Hinde worked in a number of engineering roles before landing her current position as a Machine Learning engineer at a healthcare company. While Hinde enjoys her work as an engineer, she felt she needed to learn new skills to be able to progress in her career:
“My role can be very isolating. I might have three months to work on one task – and it’s very technical!”
In order to give back to her local community while developing her leadership abilities, she applied to volunteer at CYF. She began as a community coordinator for CYF London, helping run community building activities. Just a few months later, she became a community coordinator leader. Today, she leads the organization of the London cohort of trainees, as well as a community coordinator team where she organizes events and conducts outreach. She continues to use her experience to inspire refugees and others from underprivileged backgrounds to learn to code. At the same time, she encourages fellow tech workers – and those with other backgrounds – to support CYF’s mission.
A Day In The Life of A CYF Leader
Leadership program participants act as a bridge between CYF team members and trainees. On a typical day, they may reach out to potential volunteers and trainees; spreading the word about CYF and its work. Participants may also help resolve a challenge faced by a volunteer or trainees, helping to ensure that everyone’s experience at CYF is a positive one.
One of Hinde’s favorite parts about her role is motivating people to volunteer or learn to code. She encourages people in challenging circumstances to consider a career in tech and motivates potential volunteers to lend their free time to give back:
You get to talk to potential trainees from all walks of life and learn from them. It’s work, without it feeling like work!
As part of CYF’s Leadership program, Hinde manages multiple tasks concurrently. Far from working in isolation, her dynamic role allowed her to strengthen her ability to manage different responsibilities. Her tasks range from updating spreadsheets, to coordinating volunteers and reaching out to potential trainees:
“On any given day, I am brainstorming, communicating, listening and reporting.”
A Ready-Made Network of Support
The Leadership program is an opportunity for participants to challenge themselves and learn in a safe space. Everyone on the program is supported and encouraged on their journey by fellow volunteers and CYF’s passionate team. While Hinde did not have managerial experience at the start, she recommends aspiring Leadership program participants to not expect perfection immediately. Unsure of her own abilities at the start, she defined her role by working with team members at CYF:
“Be willing to try and fail, then try again and ask questions. You are not doing it alone. Anytime you need help, raise your hand!”
Hinde made the most of her fellow volunteer and CYF team member support, learning to be resourceful when there was something she didn’t know.
Building The Confidence To Lead
Hinde’s biggest take-away from her experience on the program is the boost to her self-confidence. By being trusted and given the freedom to take her ideas forward, she was able to transition to a management role. Hinde will be taking her experience in communications, community-building and connected thinking to her new role as a Technical Product Manager, leading a team of engineers to solve exciting, cutting-edge challenges in the world of tech. While she will no longer be coding every day, she’s excited to be lending her skills to empower a new engineering community:
I never would have gone into experience without management experience; I never thought I would be able to do it. Going into this new job is the first time I don’t have imposter syndrome.
During the interview process, Hinde was able to draw on examples from her experience at CYF, including defining her own role and thinking outside the box.
Hinde can hardly believe the journey she has been on; from completing an online application to a social impact organisation to landing her dream role. A year into the program, she has reached a level of confidence where even her friends don’t recognize her! Hinde recognizes the change in herself; she has become more open, built ‘soft’ skills on top of the hard ones she already had. She is also proud to be able to add a community of volunteers, trainees and tech enthusiasts to her network:
The trust and encouragement I got at CYF pushed me to do more and to go out of my comfort zone.
Do You Have What It Takes?
Hinde encourages people from all walks of life to consider taking part in the leadership program:
“You don’t need a background in tech or management. I encourage anyone who is looking to move into a management role to volunteer and take part.”
Like any skill, leadership requires practice – and a willingness to try new things. What better way than to flex that muscle in a supportive community? If you are proactive, open-minded and want to help build a more diverse tech community – this program is for you!
I thought joining CYF was about me giving back. I never thought that I would learn, grow and make lifelong friends in the process.
Our Leadership program is open to CYF graduates, as well as anyone who is looking to develop their leadership skills, progress in their career and is passionate about making a social impact. We’re looking for aspiring leaders committed to leveling the playing field in tech and are willing to volunteer their time 5-7 hours per week for 6-12 months. Our recruitment process takes place year-round and we welcome a new cohort each month from a variety of backgrounds and experiences. Learn more about what the program offers and apply here.