The GirlCode Experience

The GirlCode Experience: Lihle Naphakade

I applied to the VAC work programme because I was looking for experience in the real working environment. And so I went into the programme with a mindset to learn about (and get as much as I can out of) the actual working environment, including understanding how the company works. I found that I learned a lot and got exposure to the company environment and culture, which was great.

As part of the programme, we were also given a project to work on which was good as I certainly expected us to feel some work pressure by getting involved and working on a project. They told us about a project they were currently working on and we got the opportunity to help on that; bringing ideas together and creating a prototype. We got to be hands-on and apply soft skills throughout the week, which was an added bonus.

Beyond my expectations however, was that Thomson Reuters invited guests in to chat to us and share their experiences with us. We also were given the opportunity to create networks with people in the industry as well as people who are in business.

What motivated me most was the fact that most of their employees are not graduates from varsity. I like to believe that at Thomson Reuters they are more about what can one do instead of how they studied to do, meaning they do not just look at qualifications but also consider what one can produce based on their previous experience.

Some of the key things I learned from my time at Thomson Reuters vac programme is that,

  1. When in my first job, I will still be finding my feet for at least the first six months, so I should be patient with myself.
  2. I also learned that I should always open my mind to learn as much as I can even though at times it might feel intimidating.
  3. I also learned that a Software developer does not sit in front of a computer and code all day(!). Hence Thomson Reuters exposed us to business soft skills as well because one might have a great idea, but if you cannot present it well, it might not receive the support it deserves.
  4. My advice to other young women looking to get into the industry would be to seek to find a place where you can grasp details, and learn as much as possible. It’s not important to consider money; it’s more important to consider learning and growing your knowledge and polishing your skills. The STEM industry is not one easy for women to get into but, with the right attitude and drive, it is possible to become a great engineer and be a woman in leadership.

This was the best time of my life. I met a lot of incredible women, some in the STEM industry, some in marketing, entrepreneurs, as well as some in leadership! I am grateful I had the opportunity to engage with all these women and learn from them. It’s been amazing.

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