Johannesburg's Digital Academy offers SA coders free internships

28 September 2015 - 13:22 By Duncan Alfreds
Image: Gallo Images/ Thinkstock

A Johannesburg academy is aiming to equip self-taught coders with free internships to prepare them for jobs in large corporations.

“We take people who are self-taught in coding, have a limited working understanding of programming, or may have some tertiary education; and provide them with an opportunity," Gary Bannatyne, co-founder of the Digital Academy told Fin24.

"It’s possible for our employees to develop a variety of real digital solutions for reputable partners, such as Barclays Africa,” Bannatyne told Fin24.

The organisation, which is based in the Johannesburg central business district, has its next intake on November 1 for a minimum three month internship aimed at young developers from poor backgrounds.

Interns will develop a portfolio of work that could see them build skills desired in South African corporations.

“These young developers are part of the market that corporations and businesses are desperately trying to tap into. They have mass market insights that large corporates don’t necessarily have and an understanding of the digital environment like no one else,” said academy co-founder Brandon Muller.

The Digital Academy's initiative is not the first of its kind in South Africa.

A non-profit project dubbed 'WeThinkCode_' is expected to launch in 2016 and put students through an intensive two-year coding course.

Students of WeThinkCode_ are also set to be based in Braamfontein, Johannesburg and they will have their studies paid for by corporate sponsors.


As consumers increasingly interact with smart mobile technologies, companies are racing to develop engagements that will win over users, and ultimately boost the bottom line.

A number of tech incubators, funders and development competitions in SA have the goal of trying to find coders that have a vision for a winning application or service.

“One of the biggest challenges we face is that we can’t find good developers to build stable and scalable products consistently, with the correct knowledge base. Within our business, we require complete digital products that we can present to market,” said Digital Academy director James Coetzee. Bannatyne said that the policy of the academy pushes interns to build application fast, alluding to Google’s “fail fast” methodology to ensure success.

“We enable young developers to build rapid prototypes, through an incentive based model, that are ready for market on behalf of our corporate partners. This is indispensable to the present day business landscape, where big business is typically systems driven.”

There is no cost for interns at the Digital Academy and they are paid a stipend for the duration of their time. The organisation believes that theoretical skills have to complement technical competence.

“We have seen many students with degrees that lack the practical experience to build complete solutions. They have a good theoretical base, but don’t necessarily have the practical knowledge to apply what they’ve learnt to actual development. Young developers require a fundamental working knowledge in a variety of fields,” said Muller.

Source: News24