Sky's the limit for first-ever 'earn-as-you-learn' graduate at Kainos
BELFAST-based digital services provider Kainos Group has celebrated the first graduation of a student from its ‘Earn as you Learn' career development initiative.
Leah Fullerton (24) from Belfast has been awarded a first class honours degree in computing systems from Ulster University, after studying part-time for four years while working at Kainos, which has a staff of nearly 1,000 across eight offices in Europe and the US.
She joined the fast-growing tech company in 2013, the pilot year of its Earn as you Learn scheme, which allows students to earn a living as trainee software engineers, gaining invaluable real-world experience while Kainos funds their degree in a package worth up to £100,000 per student.
Leah said: “Kainos is a great place to work. It's a really innovative environment, with plenty of variety day to day. I'd worried before starting about how little I knew, but the training and support is brilliant and my colleagues have been so encouraging.
“The practical experience made the theory behind my degree so much easier to understand, and of course the fact that I've graduated without any student loans is just amazing."
She added: “My ambition now is just to keep working hard and moving up in the company. Kainos staff can apply for promotion several times a year, and we frequently move between projects, so there's plenty of scope for progression and job satisfaction.”
Kainos chief executive Brendan Mooney said: “We're proud of Leah's achievement and of the fact that we've been able to support her financially through her university education, while at the same time offering her a practical learning experience.
“She's driven and ambitious, and she has worked incredibly hard both for us and for her degree over the past four years. She's consistently shown initiative and diligence working with our customers – and I'm sure she will continue to be a credit to the Kainos team in the future.”
There are 30 students currently studying via the Earn as you Learn programme. Ten places were available in both 2016 and 2017, and Kainos plans to increase this number for the 2018 intake of post A-Level students (applications for this intake will open next March).
Mooney added: “Earn as you Learn is a modern apprenticeship, and is part of our Kainos Academy along with other initiatives such as CodeCamp and A.I.Camp. This Academy helps us find talented young people, and helps them to fulfil their potential through practical training and mentoring.
“Operating alongside experienced professionals on live clients makes for a faster, better learning environment and that's why Earn as you Learn is working so well.”