An Accenture apprenticeship led Shajida Akhtar to be the first in her family to earn a degree and work in the corporate world. Now she’s encouraging others to do the same.
I grew up on an estate in East London, not far from the skyscrapers of Canary Wharf. However, while that hub of wealth and commerce was a familiar sight it wasn’t a world I ever imagined I’d experience.
I studied for A-levels in Electronics, Computing, Maths and Photography, but unlike many of my friends – and despite my parents’ expectations – I didn’t want to go down the university route after school. I felt ready to start working, but didn’t have a clear idea about what I wanted to do, and I lacked confidence. I should have been enjoying that summer after finishing school, but I started to feel increasingly anxious that I didn’t have anything lined up.
One day my sister mentioned an IT work experience opportunity she’d heard about at our local youth club. It was through Movement to Work, an employer-led charity dedicated to helping young people get into work. Having enjoyed electronics and computing at college, I jumped at the opportunity and a few weeks later I found myself working in Accenture’s city offices.
I didn’t know it at the time, but that placement was the start of my technology career. I gained so much insight in those four weeks and went on to secure a place on Accenture’s degree apprenticeship programme. It was all a bit of a whirlwind, but it got me out of my shell and I threw myself into the experience. Most importantly, I’d found something I really wanted to do.
During the last few years I’ve contributed to the delivery of several large-scale technology projects at Accenture, working for a number of clients and managing multiple teams. I’ve honed my technical skills and am now proficient in areas such as DevOps and Java programming. The demand for these skills is high and it’s a fast-paced environment. Every time you finish one project, someone is trying to snap you up straight away to go on to another.
With Accenture’s support, I graduated in July 2019 with a full bachelor’s degree in digital and technology solutions. I’m the first person in my family to get a degree and to work in the corporate world. I’ve gained so much from my apprenticeship and I’m keen to show other young women that they can succeed in the traditionally male-dominated industries of technology and engineering. Accessible role models can make all the difference, and I hope that by sharing my experience I can encourage others to discover their passion and embrace the opportunities available.
To learn more, visit movementtowork.com
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