Apprenticeship Levy, Software

Training the next generation of developers

16 June 2020 by Heidi Marshall

Michelle, from Square Enix is an apprentice junior developer and learner on the Corndel Software Engineering programme. Square Enix enrol several learners annually onto the programme, to feed their pipeline of emerging talent.

The ability for learners to take on the basics within two-to-three months, at an intensive bootcamp, followed by a longer period of on-the-job learning, supported by coaching, workshops and projects, means that within three months, Square Enix has a viable resource they can develop into a full-service developer.   

Michelle’s background was in Genetics, but she had always been interested in development and technology. She valued the flexible working environment and the endless opportunities for growth that working in a development role could provide. Having ruled out six-month long style bootcamps with an expensive price tag, a chance meeting with another learner inspired her to look at the apprentice option and she applied for the apprenticeship at Square Enix.  

“The fact that my role and this training progamme was called ‘An Apprenticeship’ really helped me to mentally acknowledge that I was here to learn and that I wasn’t expected to know it all. 

All learners on the Corndel Diploma in Software Engineering start with an intensive bootcamp where they learn the basics, ready to work at a junior Engineering level. “The bootcamp at the start of the programme provided a great environment to learnWe focused on the basics of JavaScript and fundamental conceptsI was able to apply the frameworks that we learnt when working on projects at Square Enix.  

We solved problems and worked as a team. Whilst the technical skills were extremely valuable, the thing I got out of the bootcamp that was unexpected, was development of my collaboration skills. I had a fear of sharing code, in case it was wrong, and I wasn’t particularly assertive. My confidence in my abilities, that grew during the bootcamp, meant I was much better placed to go into the workplace and work as part of a development team. 

Michelle is reaching the end of her programme and credits her coaches for keeping her motivated and inspiring her: Having a coach to help me when I get stuck is very valuable. It’s easy to lose your way with code and feel a bit despondent. Having someone who can give you a shortcut, or unpick a problem means I can deliver better code, quicker. My coach, Rupert, was very inspiring and his focus on soft skills in addition to technical skills was really useful for me. My coaches have helped me to balance my work obligations and the course.  

She is currently leading a project, creating sign ups for new game testers, something she didn’t anticipate she would be doing after one year. “My confidence has grown because I know the technology. I’m happy to speak out in meetings and challenge ideas now.” 

Michelle believes that Apprenticeships like this are a vital way of removing the barriers to entry for Development roles and she now supports the new cohort of Software Engineering Apprentices at Square Enix. “I never thought I would be in a position to confidently guide people on their training journey.” In addition, she is a member of Black Coding Females, who work together to share opportunities and advice. Her apprenticeship journey is inspiring other people in a similar position to train as developers.  

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