After holding many different roles over the years of my career in tech, Director of Academy for Infinity Works is undoubtedly the one I’m most proud of. Being able to make a tangible difference to the start of so many amazing people’s new career in tech is such an enjoyable and fulfilling thing to be involved with. Every associate consultant we hire goes through our Academy programme – a 12-week intensive training programme, which takes them from the seeds of tech knowledge and how to code through to the full bloom of being a technology consultant.
From small beginnings…
Our Academy has gone from strength to strength over the last few years. I joined Infinity Works in May 2015 and it was challenging for our consultants to find the time to help develop the Academy curriculum or to provide the training. In September 2016 we provided one Academy programme. We’ve grown rapidly since then and today we have full-time instructors, and I’m proud of the curriculum we’ve created. Last year we provided three 12-week programmes made up of 41 people, and for our 2021 to 2022 year, which starts in September, we’re on track to deliver four programmes for a total of 65 people.
Each 12-week long Academy programme is made up of a mixture of taught sessions and supporting exercises, underpinned by project work. It’s evolved to cater for all sorts of different learning styles, from those who are visual learners to those who like to absorb, read and take a bit longer to digest. This is great for attracting a diverse range of talent into our business. And the learning doesn’t stop when the initial programme comes to an end. We provide each cohort with one day of training per month throughout their first year as employees, to embed the learning and to develop skills.
What do ‘Academites’ look like?
It may sound like a band name, but ‘Academites’ is our collective term for people going through our Academy programme! (Although maybe we should start a band?!)
There is no such thing as a typical ‘Academite’. When we’re recruiting, we’re looking for people with the right aptitude, enthusiasm, and curiosity around technology. The Academy introduces each cohort not only to tech skills, but also to the consultancy skills they’ll need to be successful at Infinity Works.
We want people who are passionate about a career in technology, regardless of what background they come from or what career stage they may be at. If you’ve played around with coding software in your own time and have a basic understanding of what a software engineering career looks like, we’d love to hear from you. We have no set educational requirements either. Applicants just need to have learnt enough to prove their ability to write code. As a case in point, I started my career from a background in geography and transitioned into software engineering. I’m proof that you don’t need to be a techie from the outset to have a rewarding career in tech!
What’s in it for you?
Our ‘Academites’ graduate with a broad overview of technologies, tools and practices, and detailed insight and real-time project exposure around what it means to be a software engineer in a modern business context. This includes not just writing code but all those essential supporting skills too, including how to be a great consultant, how to work well within a team, and how to elicit business requirements. It’s about being good with people as well as with computers: communicating, negotiating and influencing are important.
The effect of the pandemic
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, each 12-week Academy programme was based at our Leeds office. Of course, since the onset of Covid, it hasn’t been possible to run the programme that way and we switched to running the Academy remotely instead. We use Google Meet for workshops as well as an informal collaboration tool called Discord, which allows people to self-organise into small groups. This provides a far more natural way of catching up with colleagues than having to schedule meetings. These tools have helped enormously during this period of remote working where it’s been so hard to connect meaningfully; they’ve allowed us to work effectively in a way we wouldn’t have been able to even just a few years ago.
Embracing a hybrid approach
Going forward, the Academy will run as a hybrid model, with four days a week of remote learning and one day of collaborative working in one of our offices. Trials of this model have worked well. Firstly, it’s allowed us to offer remote working and all the flexibility that comes with that, including losing 80% of the commute!
Secondly, we have gained in terms of the diversity of people we can recruit. New joiners no longer have to pick up their life and move to Leeds for three months. This means we are open to a far bigger pool of talent than just university leavers. We can recruit career-changers and those with family or other out-of-work commitments that mean they’re geographically tied to their home location.
However, we won’t be going fully remote. The one thing we’ve learned throughout the pandemic is how beneficial coming together in an office space is. You just can’t beat face-to-face, in-person interaction to build social relationships. So, we’ve found that the hybrid model of meeting up once a week is the most beneficial approach all round and people are happy to get on board with it. After all, hybrid working is what the new world of work is likely to look like, especially in the technology sector, so why not embrace hybrid learning?
Vision for the future
We plan to widen our Academy offer to support existing staff to develop skills in new technology areas rather than being a career-entry only scheme. We are also committed to scaling up and hiring people from a diverse range of backgrounds. I’m keen to start to broaden out our offerings from the current software and data engineering-focused programmes to create a pathway into technology for people who don’t code, but who want a career in tech. This might focus on topics such as business analysis, research, and user experience. Watch this space!
If you’d like to know more about the Infinity Works’ Academy or want to apply to become an ‘Academite’, please get in touch.