Whitechapel pupils inspired to dream big at Government Digital Service

Government Digital Service schools outreach lead Catherine Ahorituwere with Mulberry School for Girl

Government Digital Service schools outreach lead Catherine Ahorituwere with Mulberry School for Girls pupils Mehtaab Begum, Naeemah Amaanee, Zahrah Rahman, Aniqua Khatun and senior developer Deborah Chua. Picutre: GDS - Credit: Archant

Schoolgirls spent a week being empowered to overcome barriers and follow their dreams during a government work experience placement.

Four Year 11 pupils from Mulberry School for Girls spent a week at the Government Digital Service (GDS) in Whitechapel to gain an insight into work at the Cabinet Office department.

The girls were introduced to coding, learnt how to write engaging CVs and had blogging sessions, which taught them how to brand themselves and avoid the pitfalls of posting "regrettable" content on social media.

They were also given practical tips on how to prepare for interviews, attended a diversity and inclusion workshop, and shadowed their individual mentors within their respective job areas.

GDS schools outreach lead Catherine Ahorituwere said the programme aimed to "open doors by providing equal opportunities and help bridge socioeconomic gaps for young people from deprived backgrounds".

She said: "It was a rewarding experience working with these young girls and seeing how they have embraced a world perceived to be far out of their reach."

The girls were the third group placed at the GDS under the programme, which focuses on pupils from underprivileged backgrounds, as part of a wider ambition to become a more inclusive employer.

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One of the girls, Mehtaab Begum, who wants to be a barrister, said: "I was able to reassure myself of the opportunities that I would want to take in the future.

"The Muslims at the GDS career talk inspired me to follow my dreams and it showed me if others can do it, why can't I?"

The programme aimed to not only impart practical skills but equip them to deal with real-world situations, boost their confidence and encourage them to raise their aspirations.

It made them aware of the different education and training options and career opportunities available to them.

Zahrah Rahman said: "Catherine matched me with a mentor whose personality is quite similar to mine, which made it relatable for me, as she was able to give me useful tips on how to deal with my shyness.

"We were given several talks which have given me a better understanding of what path I would wish to take after my GCSEs. I now know that females like me can thrive in the tech industry."