Bristol-based digital skills school Develop Me launched its first 12-week Coding Fellowship back in the spring of 2016 to tackle the digital skills gap. The plan was to provide a course in coding to help people access careers as developers.

Just one year on, its first students have graduated with flying colours and the course has gone on to take its next cohort in their first steps as coders.

“I want to work within the Bristol tech scene, and the Coding Fellowship is a great route into that”


To celebrate both past and present student’s successes and motivations we’ve summarised their stories, from their own words of unlocked potential, a myriad of starting points and a unique look at one part of the process of opening up tech skills in alternative and more accessible ways.

Getting started

Liz Rollo (pictured left) joined the Coding Fellowship this year after deciding to take her love of jewellery design and turn it into a real business. She says: “I want to work within the Bristol tech scene, and the Coding Fellowship is a great route into that.

“I like the creative aspect of web development, and would be very happy working for a company on in-house projects, or working for an agency in a client-facing role.”

“I’m really relishing the feeling of ultimate power you get when something starts working correctly”


Now halfway through her course with Develop Me, Liz has already expanded on her pre-course knowledge of basic HTML and CSS to include jQuery and JavaScript.

“Learning is always satisfying,” she says, “especially when you’re studying something that a few weeks ago seemed like gobbledegook: incomprehensible, impenetrable and possibly, actually, maybe just magic?

“Now I get to revel in being on the opposite side of that equation – I’m really relishing the feeling of ultimate power you get when something starts working correctly.”

Oliver Ridsdale (pictured right), also halfway through the Coding Fellowship with fellow student Liz, discovered the course following his A-Levels and a brief escapade around Thailand. Motivated by a desire to create top notch websites, Oliver explains: “I am mainly interested in the visual side rather than back-end.”

“[On the Develop Me course] I really enjoyed working with Javascript but in particular using the Angular framework and realising how powerful it is for creating great single page web applications. It makes working with forms and validation a breeze.

“When this was tied into making hybrid mobile apps with ionic it was the icing on the cake and really good fun to make several mobile apps.”

Decoding success

As well as providing the course itself, Develop Me has been working with local companies to help find work placements for its students.

You can hear what local digital agency Nudge Digital have to say about its experience offering work placements for students on the Coding Fellowship course in the video below:


It’s clear that closing the skills gap is no easy feat, and from the experiences of both those interested in becoming developers and those trying to recruit them, skills courses like these are having an impact.

Bright futures

Following just one round of students being put through their paces in the 12-week course, there’s plenty of success stories that should have the local tech community holding out hope for a future in which the South West skills gap begins to close.

For example, Kiran Bilon – who was in Develop Me’s first cohort – is now on placement with Bristol-based digital marketing agency Proctor + Stevenson.

Check out what she has to say about her experience in the video below:


Simon Capet, who also attended the first Coding Fellowship, came from a non-technical arts background and anticipated the course might help him to gain an internship without going through the lengthy process of gaining a degree or formal higher qualification.

In fact, he ended up working in a paid developer role at Bristol-based analytics company On Corps after just 12 weeks of training.

He talks about his journey more in the video below:


You can find out more about the Coding Fellowship on the Develop Me website and find out if it’s right for you by attending a free introductory Coding Fellowship evening. You can also stay up to date with Develop Me’s other courses, events and news by following them on Twitter here: @develop_me_uk.