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Open access informs Zara’s future

Attending an open event at Matthew Boulton College helped Zara Sheikh make the decision to join them as a further education student.

“Looking around the college and speaking to lecturers, I immediately believed that what I would learn here would benefit me,” said the 19-year-old. “I also spent time talking to students about what my course would be like, what else I could do at the college in my spare time and what study and career paths I could go on to.

“I found it really useful. It made me feel relaxed about leaving school and being somewhere new, so these are things I’d advise others to look out for when they go to open events.”

After being a day visitor and then a full-time college student, Zara is now about to start a computer networking and security degree at Birmingham City University.

“I love how my industry is evolving,” she said. “I did a BTEC Level 2 IT diploma in school and in the time that I finished one qualification and started the next, I was aware of how certain systems had progressed in major ways. I love how fast-paced the digital and IT world is.”

Zara has experienced many highlights on her course, including collaborating with business and art and design students at her college on a competition set by Amazon Web Services and Portsmouth-based children’s charity, The Roberts Centre.

She explained: “As part of my course, I joined BMet’s Creative Digital Career College programme, which encouraged me to learn things and do my assignments as if I was already in the world of work, problem-solving or producing digital and IT solutions.

“Earlier this year, my classmates and I were given a live working brief to create digital applications to go with a children’s book about homelessness. We made a YouTube film, game and a website, which I put together myself. Converting a traditional story book into a digital platform is an amazing technical skill for me to have shown others. I’m proud of what I did.”

Zara and her team competed against Career College students from across the UK, with their interactive design, development and business strategies chosen as the winning package.

With women in technology still in the minority, Zara hopes that her college achievements will inspire others to take up studies and jobs in this field.

“Technology and digital applications are going to play an even bigger part in peoples’ lives than they do already, so I think it’s really important that children and young people, especially girls should understand exactly how their computers, mobile devices and other appliances operate. It makes sense to me that more and more people should make a career out of maintaining, securing and improving the systems and software we use.”


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