News article

Introducing female students to the world of tech with CodeF

Greetings from the RVU Pay It Forward Team! We are the Corporate Social Responsibility Team within RVU and this article is about an initiative called CodeF!

Over the course of a week in July 2021, RVU worked with a great charity called SEO London. They are a social mobility charity based in Southwark, London, that supports underprivileged young people with their education and career opportunities.

SEO London put us in touch with a group of female students, and throughout the week, they participated in a series of talks and workshops that helped form their view of a career in tech, with sessions run by a group of RVU volunteers.

What is CodeF?

CodeF is an annual week-long initiative run by RVU Pay It Forward and SEO London. It’s designed for female students who are interested in starting a career in tech, but have had very little exposure to the topic before.

As well as teaching the students key coding skills, the course worked to dispel many of the concerns and myths about pursuing a career in tech. It also addressed the unbalanced gender dynamic in the industry, which is currently very male-dominated, to ensure fairer career opportunities for women in tech.

The week was split into sessions focusing on what a career in tech looks like and technical coding lessons. The talks covered a range of topics, including starting out in the industry as a graduate, working in legal technology, our own business and how tech companies use data.

They also focused on the experiences of women in tech and key disparities between how women and men are perceived within tech. According to TrustRadius, women are 22% more likely to feel imposter syndrome at work, and 72% of women are outnumbered by men in business meetings by a ratio of at least 2:1. Statistics like these make initiatives like CodeF all the more important.

The technical coding lessons saw the students get stuck into both CSS, HTML and website building best practices. Each student was then given the task of building their own website about something they were passionate about, and then had to present back to various CodeF speakers and organisers that they met throughout the week.

The Websites

The websites and presentations created by the students were amazing. Many of them went above and beyond what was initially taught and incorporated elements that were far more advanced than a week’s worth of coding knowledge!

We had submissions featuring a wide variety of topics from Haute-Couture to university applications, to hometown history. Some of these are displayed at the bottom of this page.

It was great to see the students speak so passionately about their respective topics and how they blended that with the world of coding and technology!

Feedback from students

After CodeF, the perception of a career in tech really changed for many of the students. Before the course, only 17% of them definitely considered a career in technology versus 61% after the course. 100% of them would recommend the course to another student as well!

Their confidence in technology also blossomed throughout the week, where 67% of them agreed that they knew the skills required to build a website, when 0% of them knew before.

The parts they enjoyed the most about the course were how engaging the speakers were, the pace and interactiveness of each session, as well as how patient the mentors were in technology training.

Here are some student testimonials.

“Overall I would just like to convey my absolute gratitude for all the RVU employees who took their time to share their knowledge with us over the week. In particular, Emils and Greg were incredibly patient and helpful and created a really comfortable environment to learn and ask questions in.”

“Really great week that achieves the aim of encouraging young women to look into tech careers - I have always taken male-dominated subjects etc. yet still felt intimidated by the idea of applying to tech opportunities. After this week and seeing all the great opportunities available in this industry, I am definitely planning to apply to tech internships and roles in application season!” 

“I really liked the structure of it, it was very informative and at the same time interactive. There was a right balance between teaching and trying it out ourselves. I really love how all of the speakers and mentors were understanding of the fact that we come from non-tech backgrounds. All in all, very wonderful experience and I hope to join more courses like this in the future.”

“I enjoyed the talks from the different speakers the most. They all come from different backgrounds and took very different career paths which has given them useful transferable skills for their current jobs. Seeing that being in tech does not just mean being a programmer but also a writer, data scientist, product manager as well as so much more. Moreover, it was inspiring to see many women in talks encouraging us all to get involved in text too.”

Where does it go from here? 

This was the second year of running CodeF, and both years have resulted in tremendous success. The Pay It Forward Team is looking to expand and deepen their relationship with SEO London, because of how talented all of the students are.

As with everything at RVU, we always like to expand and leave the woodpile higher than we found it, so watch this space for more events with SEO London!

Thank You!

Lastly, we would like to thank everyone involved in bringing this project to life. A special shout out to SEO London of course for supplying such talented students. Additionally, we would like thank our amazing volunteers, mentors and speakers:

  • Tariq, our CEO for his warm welcome to the students

  • Florence Clutha, Greg Sweetman, Emils Solmanis, Kumsy Thomas and Safiyah Raja for the amazing organisation, and mentoring they did for the students!  

  • Andreea Luga, Andreas Williams, Suraj Narwade, Laim Andriejauskas,  Richard Dowden, Tim Earl, and Phillip Helm for all being amazing mentors to our students

  • Natalie Salunke for her talk about being a successful legal women in tech

  • Catherine Hiley and Salmon Haqqi for giving insight into Uswitch as a business

  • Kat James and Jennifer Lim on their talk about data use within tech

  • Adelana Carty and Meghan Iankov for their insight into different careers using coding skills

  • Safiyah Raja and Stephen Situ for their insights into graduate life at RVU

A warm welcome to Morocco, by Aya

Recipes for all tastes and occasions, by Fadak

University Applications, by Harshini

Recipe inspiration by Maria