Academy 2021

In collaboration with
  • What?
    6-month design & no-code apprenticeship

  • Why?
    Nurture talent for social impact

  • Who?
    Anyone. No experience required

The apprenticeship

We are looking for two apprentices to be part of Academy 2021, starting March 1st.

You’ll join the SIDE team and learn the core skills of no-code development: discovery, design, development, product management, workshop facilitation and tea drinking.

This is knitted together by Webflow, a website creation tool that radically changes the skill set required to deliver impactful user experiences.

You will work on various projects with SIDE Labs and the Good Practice team at Refugee Action.

After 6 months

We’d hope that there will be opportunities to continue working either at SIDE Labs or Refugee Action. At the very least, you should have turned yourself into a hyper-employable designer and no-coder, and we hope this will open the door to opportunities.

A typical week

  • 4 days: live projects - The best way to learn!
  • 1 day: training - Follow our no-code curriculum and get expert support

Our no-code curriculum

The training covers the full cycle of product development.


  • Workshop Design
  • User Interviews
  • Market Analysis
  • Synthesis


  • Solution Sketching
  • UX & UI Design
  • Visual Design
  • Prototyping


  • Software Evaluation
  • Product Build
  • Copywriting
  • Iterative Improvements

Entry requirements

No qualifications or experience is required. We’ll be looking for the following (don’t worry if you don't hit them all):

1. Self-study in design (or related discipline)

We are always impressed by people who have taught themselves. We’d love to see what you’ve learned or built. Autodidacts, welcome! 

2. Strong written communicator

You don’t have to consider yourself a writer. But we’ll pay close attention to your cover letter. We’ll be looking for someone who communicates tightly, makes a connection and has a touch of flair.

3. Excellence at anything

Perhaps you've played music or sport to a high standard:  whether rapping or ultimate frisbee, viola or boxing - we are ready to be impressed. Perhaps you’ve got glowing letters of recommendation from somewhere you volunteer. Surprise us.

4. Work ethic

We love to see evidence that you’ve taken the hard way, whether for curiosity, love or money. Maybe you’ve worked somewhere over a long period, beyond what most mortals could sustain. Even if the job was unglamorous, we'll be impressed by the grind. 

5. Team player

So much of what we do is about teamwork. We’ll be delighted if you’ve been involved in something bigger than yourself. Excellence at facilitating workshops, being a leading light in a community or starting something social will wow us.

6. Ambition to make an impact

We are aiming to make the world a better place. It would be wonderful if you are too. Tell us how or why or where!

Special consideration will be given to:

  • Applicants with insight into the asylum process, either through personal experience or having worked in the area.
  • Applicants without a design degree or professional tech experience.


  • Places: 2 apprentices
  • Duration: 6 months  
  • Salary: £21,000 per year
  • Computer: supplied if needed
  • Holiday: 25 days + bank holidays


We are happy for the job to be mainly remote, but we do like to work face-to-face occasionally (post-lockdown), so (mild) preference is given to candidates who get to central London on a weekly(ish) basis.

Key dates

  • Mon 18th Jan: Applications open
  • Mon 1st Feb: Applications close; interviews start
  • Mon 15th Feb: Deliberations; offers sent this week
  • Mon 1 March: Academy 2021 starts!

Applications closed

Got a question? Email us. No recruiters, please.

Our 2020 Cohort

🚀 September 2020 - February 2021

SIDE Academy member Maryan

Maryan Ali

When working as an accountant, Maryan realised her ambition was to solve problems, not just identify them. 9 months of self-study later, we are delighted SIDE Academy is the next step on her journey.

SIDE Academy member Jaymie

Jaymie Gill

Due to personal circumstances Jaymie couldn't attend university, but he clearly had the talent. We are excited to have his skills on the team.

Track record

Experience of nurturing digital talent

A tweet from a former employee

Design Lead at Monzo

A tweet from a former employee

Senior Designer at Apple

Why we are running Academy

SIDE Academy aims to increase diversity in the charity technology sector. It's aimed at people who are under-represented in this sector.

In 2018, AVECO reported "only 9% of the voluntary sector workforce is from a BAME background."

We are aware that a few chance encounters early in our careers had a huge impact on our life trajectory. Many people don’t get those chances, whatever their talents. This is our tiny effort to redress this imbalance and open up opportunities.

Academy 2021 is a collaboration with Refugee Action

Refugee Action

Refugee Action aims to benefit 80,000 refugees and people seeking asylum in the UK.

Refugee Action helps refugees who’ve survived some of the world’s worst regimes. Refugee Action works to ensure people can access the basic support they need to live again with dignity, helping them to build safe, happy and productive lives in the UK.


SIDE stands for Social Impact Digital Explorers.

We focus on Social Impact. We aim to use technology to alleviate suffering, guide the vulnerable and reduce structural inequalities.

We call ourselves Digital Explorers because product development is fundamentally a process of exploration. Human motivations are complex and unreadable. Progress is made by exploring the problem area via rapid prototypes and user testing.

Applications closed

Got a question? Email us. No recruiters, please.