Kelsey Brooks, 21, has joined the IN4.0 team as a Junior Engineer after graduating from the IN4.0 talent academy in September 2020. The IN4.0 Talent Academy will deliver a 12 weeks intensive programme where participants will gain a blend of technical, sales and personal skills and accreditations from Amazon Web Services.

The Talent Academy also helped fast-track candidates through the recruitment process by setting up interviews for course participants with responsible employers who are looking for leaders of the future. The academy received funding through the Fast Track Digital Workforce Fund, which was developed to address locally identified digital skills gaps, is a joint venture between the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), Greater Manchester Combined Authority and Lancashire Digital Skills Partnership.

The Fast Track Digital Workforce Fund provides accessible pathways into digital careers for underrepresented groups. These programmes come with guaranteed interviews for jobs in the region in specialist tech roles such as DevOps, Data Analysts, Cloud Engineers or Digital Marketers.

Based at The Landing at MediaCityUK, Kelsey is working closely with the team to help facilitate the next cohorts of the talent academy and DEVA/hack, and support consultancy projects. Kelsey studied BSc (Hons) Studio and Live Music Production at The School of Sound Recording at the University of Central Lancashire, and she is currently studying MSc Computer Science with Artificial Intelligence at the University of York.

Kelsey said: “The personal development module was a great way to develop soft skills, gain more confidence, and understand what employers are actually looking for in applications and interviews. It also provides the opportunity to work with lots of different industry partners - I had the opportunity to work on a really important industry project with BAE Systems, which I would never have been able to do without IN4.0.

The BAE Systems project was a great insight into how companies work in industry and how different the working environment is to university. I originally wanted to work in academia after completing a PhD, but I’ve realised that working in industry feels a lot more impactful to me. This has led to me discovering new career options that I’d never even heard about before I’d joined the academy!

I feel that I would have had considerably fewer of the skills needed to get my dream job. The combination of technical, personal and business skills that the academy has given me have all contributed significantly to my job search, and I have so much more to talk about at interviews now that I have delivered a major project. I’ve made lots of contacts with external companies, guest speakers, and other graduates that have given me opportunities that I never had prior to the academy. Finally, working with a recruitment manager has given me great insight into the recruitment process, and helped me to secure job interviews at the end of the programme.

I never realised exactly how important soft skills are before joining the academy – I understood why soft skills were useful, but I thought that my academic qualifications would be the most important thing. I now realise that anyone can learn the hard skills, but having great soft skills is far more important and useful to a recruiter. The academy provided so much support in recognising and developing strengths and weaknesses in our own personal development.

I’ve had the most amazing time over the past 12 weeks, and I feel so lucky and thankful to have met and worked with so many incredible people. I’ve never felt so supported or represented within a group of engineers and technologists. If you’re a recent graduate, I highly recommend applying! After the academy, I feel much more prepared to proceed into employment and I’m really excited to join the IN4.0 team as a Junior Engineer. I’ve only been with IN4.0 for a week, but I’ve already had some great opportunities to work with major engineering companies on really exciting projects.

I love being able to pass on the knowledge I gained from my time in the talent academy to our new cohort of graduates, and to help inspire other engineers from non-traditional or minority backgrounds to work in the technology sphere. The IN4.0 talent academy has given me so much more confidence, and I’m really excited about my future as a Cloud Engineer!”

Read more on the Fast Track Digital Workforce Fund.