It has been about three intense months since the LaunchLab Coding School kicked off and our world-class developers are ready for their internships. LaunchLab, in partnership with the University of Botswana, has a goal to equip University students with industry-ready coding skills and an opportunity to work with startups or industry partners. To get our Coding School off the ground, we teamed up with Zaio, a startup expertise in training students to become developers.

Zaio is a startup founded by former UCT students, Mvelo Hlophe and Ntando Hlongwane, after they experienced the problem of being turned down from jobs as they didn’t have practical experience in the industry. They realised there needed to be a bridge from the University to the working world. Being students themselves, they understand how students operate. They therefore created a training programme that would fit into students’ lives where they can be trained, prepped and learn to create meaningful solutions to companies when they enter the job market. Zaio has increased in size and learnt from numerous challenges to create a customised learning journey for students and clients’ needs. They work closely with companies to build a tailored pipeline of skilled developers. Zaio has been instrumental throughout the process of the LaunchLab Coding School in sourcing, interviewing and selecting potential candidates, to ensure we have the cream of the crop.

More than 100 students across various Universities and colleges applied and 12 were selected as candidates. The candidates went through an intensive 6-week boot camp where they have learned the following languages: Javascript, HTML, CSS and Node.js. Every Monday there was a lecture by the Zaio team, where candidates were given an assignment. The candidates are then broken up into different teams for each weekly assignment to ensure they are working with different people and skills to create a real experience as they would in a real job by working within a cross functional team. Technical and moral support was offered by the Zaio team during and after hours to ensure candidates have all the help they need.

The main characteristic we were looking for in the selection of the candidates was commitment and entrepreneurial ambition. This was a sponsored opportunity that can be taken for granted. Tshepiso Moloko, a Stellenbosch University Data Science Postgraduate student, has been a stellar example of commitment. Her determination and hunger to learn has seen her excel in the bootcamp. “The bootcamp forced us to work together and not in a silo. When I learn something, I teach my fellow teammates and they help me if I can’t figure something out,” said Tshepiso.

Tshepiso will be doing an assignment with LaunchLab partner, Ranyaka, an NPO based in Stellenbosch. This is an opportunity for three of the highest-scoring candidates to work on building, designing and developing a proposed digital solution for Ranyaka. “The bootcamp has given me the confidence to take on another language, Python on a personal capacity. I have been able to diversify my skills and can’t wait to get stuck in working with Ranyaka.”

It has been a learning journey for everyone. We are very proud of the LaunchLab Coding School developers and look forward to seeing the growth they will bring to our startups and partners.