Before Aisha came to City Gateway to take part in our IBM traineeship programme, her life revolved around caring responsibilities for a family member. She spent many hours of her week in hospital, which made school and study, a challenge. Organising care for her family member seemed an impossible hurdle for Aisha to overcome in order to come back to study.

‘There were days when I was close to giving up, but I was motivated by my sister to do something with my life.’

During her long stays in hospital, Aisha narrowed her study options down to three apprenticeship providers. City Gateway’s traineeship scheme offered flexibility, work experience within a professional corporation and good apprenticeships to follow.

Aisha was nervous to start education again; worried that she would have to tell her story many times to different people, facing risk of their judgement each time. She reflected, however, that ‘Everyone who comes to City Gateway has got a different story’. She continues, ‘City Gateway became a place I felt I could have a break. Everyone was so friendly’. She had two tutors during her traineeship, who gave her the kind of support that enabled her to thrive. She said of her Progression Coach (assigned to support with personal and professional development throughout her traineeship), ‘I can’t talk to others, but I can talk to you’.

Aisha secured her 5-week traineeship placement within the Acquisitions team at IBM. During this time, her confidence grew, particularly in her communication skills. Her abilities were recognised by her line manager and she was tasked with organising a speaker for IBM’s internal women’s network event. This turned out to be more challenging than she anticipated – she succeeded though, and continued to thrive during her time at IBM.

‘City Gateway helped me turn my weaknesses into strengths. I am more confident that I can pursue anything I dream, with a helping hand.’

Two months after finishing her traineeship Aisha was successful in gaining a Finance Apprenticeship at an asset management firm. ‘I am learning so much at such a young age’.

Aisha wants to continue working within financial services, particularly in the field of tax. ‘City Gateway has offered me the quickest route to get to my destination’.

*Photography represents City Gateway, but does not depict the individual featured in the story