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New Beginnings: The Launch of Click Start by TechUP Women

Teaching and Learning Centre, Durham University

by Adela Karsznia, TechUP Administrator

On 10 June, after many weeks in the making, this year’s Click Start by TechUPWomen programme was launched by the TechUP team. On a sunny Saturday morning, Durham University’s Teaching and Learning Centre opened its doors to our learners and guests, for a day of getting to know each other, exploring the programme, and considering the exciting possibilities it might open for the future.

The sessions kicked off with a welcome from the Team, followed by Professor Sue Black’s reflections on her own journey into tech. Her story resonates with many women looking to make it in a context that can be challenging to navigate, but also transformative and empowering. Next, the learners were briefly divided into groups to meet their assigned tutors – Banke Adewale, Uffa Modey, and Rebena Sanghera – and to discover more about the courses they had embarked on. When everyone had reassembled, a lively icebreaker session began, with the fastest to complete the assigned task being awarded a prize kindly donated by Waterstons, one of our programme partners.

Icebreaker session during the Welcome Event in Durham, 10 June 2023

After a delicious lunch, accompanied by free-flowing conversations, the participants reconvened for presentations by representatives from two TechUP partners: Clea Wood from the Institute of Coding and Chris Leeming from Nominet. In between these two engaging talks, Catch22’s Meghan Dyer and Gareth Moore got everyone moving with their Empower Hour, an energising session focused on building motivation, confidence, and self-esteem.

The sessions finished with a Fireside Chat panel, during which Prof. Black spoke to three inspiring early-career professionals, Elena Gorman (UX Researcher), Ramla Lipstein (Data Engineer), and Uffa Modey (Developer) about their experience of breaking into the tech industry. After closing remarks by Professors Black and Alexandra Cristea, a dinner was served for attendees, offering further opportunities to relax, connect, and network into the early evening.

We hope that everyone had as much fun and joy as we did! After taking a beat to reflect on the events of the day, we jumped straight back into delivery mode. We are now busy getting everything in place for an online Welcome Event for our next fast-track cohort starting on 22 July (it’s not too late to apply!). At the same time, we are preparing an in-person celebration for all our learners to attend in Durham, to mark the completion of their courses in mid-September.