Kindred and the community – Teaching young adults to code

Thu, 24 Oct, 2019

Twelve curious students from different suburbs around Stockholm gathered in Kindred´s Stockholm Office on the first of October for the introduction of the Kindred and NU: Nolla Utanförskapet (End Exclusion) collaborative tech-teaching program, specifically designed to unite and develop youth in their mutual interest for programming. Over 30 Kindred employees have come together to support the program in different ways, as a way of spending their charity days. The students, ages ranging from 18 to 25, will receive teaching twice a week during Q4 ending with a four weeklong project assignment.

Kindred group actively strives towards being a part of the communities which we are present in, which is defined in our Sustainability strategy. A part of this is enabling for our employees to do three days charity work every year to support a cause they care for. Kindred Head of Group Communications, Alexander Westrell, has been one of the drivers behind the NU program. He says that this project is an excellent way of combining our expert knowledge in a highly relevant field with the possibility of giving back to the community.

– When we started discussing what sustainability meant for Kindred, we started looking at what activities we do in the company, says Alexander. We realized we could do more charities that both gave more back to the community, but also aligned better with our company goals. Here in Stockholm we realized we needed developers and started figuring out what we could do to promote that target. By a coincidence Sanna Wolk, initiator and co-founder of NU contacted us in the middle of this process and together we created this project. She segmented 18 to 25-year old young adults from socially vulnerable areas in and around Stockholm that had an interest in programming which we could help nurture. Now we're finally here and I'm really looking forward to see how we can help push these students in the right direction to build interest and kickstart a career in tech.

– So many people with amazing skills that has grown up in segregated areas has a strong feeling of neither being needed, nor desired, says Sanna Wolk, from Nolla Utanförskapet. This coding course together with Kindred is an important step to give a sense of belonging and a way for the participants to create a future in the tech industry for themselves. Through this collaboration, possibilities are made for young adults to establish themselves in the job market since this course enables possibilities for both internships and potentially future jobs.

The first programming course

Kindred Frontend Developer Kristel Viilup is the Engagement Lead in the Stockholm Engagement Group and has been driving the project. She says that the Kindred and NU: Nolla Utanförskapet collaboration is unique.

– We are the first company to work together with NU: Nolla Utanförskapet to develop a programming course for young adults. We saw this as a good way for Kindred employees to use the Charity Days we're given, because only a handful of people have been using them and many still seem to be unaware of how they can use them. We want to teach what we know so this is a good way to give back to the community, and since we had a lot of flexibility in setting up this program, we designed it in a way that involved the entire tech department. It's great that we have Kindred employees from so many different teams because it's a way for us to find new cross team collaboration possibilities. However, my hope is also that this'll be a way to promote us as a tech company in the tech industry.

A soft start

The first week offered an introduction to the course.  Kristel Viilup together with External Communications Manager Maria Angell-Dupont, met the students up-front for the first time and introduced them to the company. All students went through their previous experience in the field, ranging from happy beginners to some of them having completed full university degrees in development.

– It was really interesting to meet the students for the first time. They seemed very interested in getting started and eager to learn more. They're all from different backgrounds and have different skillsets as well as different expectations on the course. But if we can find a way to match students with similar experience and skills, they'll be able to create projects on different levels. We have planned for them to make a "Kindred Twitter" as a final project for the course and they all really seemed to be looking forward to that. But we also encourage them to be creative and come up with their own ideas to create things that interest them.

Paulos Mussie is one of the participants in the course. He has previously completed a university degree in data science and is hoping that this course can give him new opportunities in his career.

– I was referred to this course by my cousin who had heard about the NU: Nolla Utanförskapet and Kindred collaboration. I applied, got accepted and now it feels very exciting to see what this can result in. Some of the things we’ve talked about I’ve already studied, but it’s very interesting to see how it is applied in a real programming environment. I have a good foundation of knowledge to stand on and this feels like an excellent continuation and a good opportunity to refresh my skills and get into coding properly again.

Employees from all over tech are contributing

The program has so far continued with presentations from Kindred employees Mohamed Hussein, Johan Engberg and Shantanu Saini on our ways of working and how our processes work in the tech department, as well as with the first introductions on databases by Fernando Caldeira, Priit Piipuu and Ilmar Kerm. Johan and Shantanu are both looking forward to the opportunity to share some knowledge.

 – To me, it feels good to be able to contribute, being a part of creating a change in the participants' lives and give them opportunities, says Johan. For Kindred, a company that wants to lead the tech scene in Stockholm, this is a great way to contribute to the community when we are in a business where it generally might be difficult to find good ways of doing so. These students are driven people that has accomplished great things, but they might be lacking the natural networks to get where they want in their careers. This is what I hope that we can be a part of enabling for them.

– They seem really excited to do this, says Shantanu. I'd like to see how much they know about the methods we use here in Kindred and we'll see what kind of questions they have and what they want to know more about. I think this is a good way of spending charity days, because if the students can utilize the knowledge, they get here it is a way for us to help them in their careers and in building their future. I've been looking for quite a while for a way to spend these charity days we're given and here I found something I really can relate to.

Learn more about Nolla Utanförskapet (in Swedish) here