We Think Code – finding untapped talent from all corners of Africa

Derivco has welcomed its first batch of We Think Code interns: twenty talented developers who will take the online gaming world by storm.

In January this year, Derivco Durban and Pretoria opened its doors to twenty We Think Code interns who have proven themselves to be worthy of the opportunity the We Think Code programme provides. Not only have these budding developers (many of them without formal education or professional experience) been awarded with a scholarship for a two-year software development course, but they have also been offered a four month, fully paid internship with Derivco – one of We Think Code’s founding partners, and one of the top development houses in the world.

“When We Think Code approached Derivco to be a partner, we jumped at the opportunity,” said Kelly Gordon, director of Human Resources at Derivco Durban. “We like to do things differently, and We Think Code helps us find undiscovered talent in a very different way.”

According to Gordon, recruiting top talent for a rapidly expanding software development house can be challenging. Although Derivco engages with schools and universities to find the new stars of the software development world, there are many up-and-coming developers who aren’t at university or at school – either because they can’t afford to attend or because they are home schooled.

This is where We Think Code comes into play. The programme looks for the young, hungry and passionate: all that is needed is determination and talent. Anyone between the ages of seventeen and thirty-five can apply (no matter the level of education and experience) by playing an online game. Successful applicants are chosen to participate in a four-week boot camp in Johannesburg, where they work for ten hours a day, seven days a week to solve complex problems through computer coding. Those who pass muster are awarded with the bursary and work experience. Once the two-year course is complete, applicants are required to work back the value of the course with their sponsor.

“We loved the concept of We Think Code,” said Gordon. “The programme focuses on the core competencies needed to succeed as a software developer and is able to access the untapped talent in rural areas – people with no access to colleges or universities.”

Derivco has worked closely with We Think Code to develop a curriculum aligned with industry standards. “It’s a hugely progressive programme,” said Gordon. “Participants are taught skills based on what they will be doing in the real world. We appreciate that.”

In January this year, the first 100 interns were accepted into the We Think Code programme and twenty of them have started their summer work experience with Derivco Durban and Pretoria. They will be spending the next four months at Derivco on a fully paid internship, while studying towards a fully sponsored two year course in software development. The interns will be exposed to the workings of a professional environment, and taught a range of soft and technical skills.

“It is a holistic programme,” said Gordon. “They are taught life skills, interview skills, negotiation and listening skills. We don’t only focus on coding, we aim to produce well-rounded individuals who can go out into the work place and conquer,” said Gordon. The students are also put into a team and are expected to work as a cohesive unit throughout their four-month stay. “At Derivco, everything is done as a team, so we wanted the interns to operate as we do,” explained Gordon.

Owen Charles, a senior tester at Derivco Pretoria, is the team lead responsible for the four interns working at the PTA office. “I am amazed at their commitment to becoming great at what they do,” he said. “I was so impressed when I asked them what they do on weekends. Each of them responded by saying they are at We Think Code every day: for them, there are no weekends. I think that shows real dedication,” said Charles.

Deidre Bisschoff, the team lead for the Centre of Excellence, is equally impressed with the sixteen interns at the Durban office. “They are exceptionally eager to get stuck into work,” she said. “They are excited at what Derivco has to offer and we are excited to show them what we are all about.”

The interns are enjoying their experience thus far. “My experience here has been astounding!” said Ian Tolmay. “We were given a warm welcome and everyone made us feel like part of their family extremely quickly. I enjoy every minute and every day I learn something new.”

“It’s been relaxed, eye opening and awesome from both the technical and social stand point,” said Reuben Moswela. “Everybody is friendly, the induction and the programme has been well thought out and planned. Plus there is free lunch!”

Jason Swanepoel says he has been blown away. “I had always known about Derivco and their non-conformity. But actually working in such a relaxed and passionate environment that has been incredible. Everyone seems so happy, and it seems everyone is more than willing to help everyone advance themselves, which I haven’t seen in any other workplace or general environment. It doesn’t seem like a job to be here; it’s more of an experience, and one that I am happy to be a part of.”

Ntaoleng Moloi agrees. “I’ve been given the opportunity to work for one of the best dev houses in the world. Need I say more? It has only been a few days yet I’ve learnt so much and can only look forward to more days of learning. Another great thing about Derivco is the awesome staff, who are all very friendly and accommodating. I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything in the world.”

Derivco is proud to offer financial support to We Think Code_ as well as providing curriculum improvement and internship opportunities.

For more information, see http://www.wethinkcode.co.za/