Meet Ashik Repon, who took part in our Talent and Employability programme. In this OneTech Story, Ashik shares how the incubator unlocked the world of tech start-ups, sharpened his employability skills and empowered his career.
Why did you apply to the Talent and Employability Incubator?
Mainly because these guys were doing something that no one else was doing in a time of pandemic. A lot of the free internship programmes got cancelled, but I didn’t want to stay at home doing nothing. So, this was a great opportunity. It wasn’t just because it was free. Everything OneTech talked about and its values were appealing. What these guys were exposing to students was exactly what I was looking for.
I knew that a knowledge of entrepreneurship, learning directly from people in the industry, was something I couldn’t miss out on. It benefits me now and in the future. If something comes up, and you want to change path, it’s better to be informed at this stage.
What did you get out of the Incubator?
The main takeaways for me were business skills and life skills.
We got to use professional tools in terms of project management. We learnt how to handle accounting, tax, invoicing and transactions. They taught us how to do all of this stuff from scratch and for free to show you don’t have to spend a lot of money on it. How to get around free trials and all that, which is important when you are starting up a business without a lot of money.
They taught us a lot about mindset. We talked about how failing is OK. That is very important, and it isn’t just something to incorporate in the future in a possible career, and as a future entrepreneur, it’s something that I can literally incorporate every single day of my life. Even in my academic journey being organised, working systematically, thinking how I could do this better, is already making me work more effectively.
I feel very fortunate I’ve taken part in this because I learnt stuff that doesn’t get taught in school. And it’s better to learn these things at my age.
How has it impacted your employability?
Before University I attended the National College for Digital Skills in London and was part of the first cohort. They already impressed on us a lot about employability, and I was attracted to that and mindfulness stuff. I think these are definitely skills that employers look for on top of your technical skillset.
The Talent Incubator was a continuation of that journey. University does not have that on the curriculum, but I was keen to continue the process of practising soft skills. The incubator programme allowed me to do some more group work which isn’t really a large part of University life. Doing work that matters in groups and then get graded for it was fun.
We had a great lesson on how CVs work and get processed. What are the keywords, what are they looking for, what to include to increase your visibility and opportunities. I still check out those slides from time to time.
How did it improve your understanding of tech?
In terms of the business side. At University we learn a lot of theory. But you don’t get people from the industry coming in talking about their life as a person involved in tech. I enjoyed that a lot, hearing about the ups and downs. The programme has given me more knowledge about how the tech environment works.
I’ve done internships in the past at Vodafone and Snowflake (part of Amazon services) but I’m the kind of person that always wants to know more. Too much is never enough!
Has it changed your aspirations about where you see yourself in tech?
Rather than changing, it has given me more information about where I want to be. I plan to do a Masters in Data Science. The Talent Incubator has added how much I know about the industry and future trends, so it has given me a more mature understanding about what is coming next.
How has your background influenced your journey?
I was born in Rome and moved to London in Year 9. It was 2 different worlds. Here the secondary schools are massive and have more funding. Until the age of 13, I had no exposure to Computer Science, but I took to it immediately and always knew that was the right path for me. I’ve not experienced many challenges. I am good at keeping people on the same length around me and am distancing myself from bad vibes.
What are your dreams and plans?
I’ll graduate this year and I’m really looking forward to doing a Masters, most likely at Kings College London.
I would like to use all my networks and the people from this Incubator and my LinkedIn as best I can. Because of the Incubator, I know where my starting point is. I want to get into industry first. I’ve also got this this this thing about teaching, so who knows? In the future if it comes to play I might be teaching young kids about computer science. There is definitely a lot of demand.
Do you want to go into a particular sector within tech?
I would like to try out for a junior data analyst role. I’m not the hardcore 24/7 programmer type. I like the idea of a sales engineer. These guys know about the technical stuff, but they accompany the sales team to their meetings and explain the technical parts of a specific product. I feel like I want to build relationships with people. I want to talk to companies, to people who want to buy something. I want to highlight the different technical aspects to them. It’s something that I personally enjoy and am good at.
What is your message to inspire other under-represented workers or founders in tech?
I feel like there is a common misconception that everything in tech is hard and challenging with maths, statistics and so on. But I guarantee to anyone with an interest in tech that there are so many different branches and so many different opportunities. There’s such an expansion of roles that you can always find your place to fit in. It’s such a huge industry and it’s booming.
The Talent Incubator is a great initiative, doing an absolutely amazing job to raise awareness. I would recommend it to anyone.
My message is also to challenge yourself to do something different. See if it works out for you. The Talent Incubator is a great place to get started.