A future Software Engineer in Holberton School

I had always wanted to be an engineer as I love using my hands and getting things done in a practical way. I loved handling tools and trying to fix things without waiting for anyone and when I did, it felt so good. As an African child, in a school were having all teachers present was a luxury; I lacked a physics teacher in my high school days and so I didn’t get the minimum admission requirements which was a credit, to be accepted into an engineering degree course. I wasn’t willing to wait another year to re-take the physics exams because I felt I still won’t get the required grade. I decided to accept the next available course “Agricultural Economics & Extension”. There went my dream.

I live in a country where you are employed for a job as long as you are a graduate and not necessarily in your field of study. I applied for several jobs and got one with a bank with major function in sales. I guess I was good at what I did and therefore rose in the ranks within a short period of time. Despite the status, salary and position I still wasn’t fulfilled, I needed a job where I could make impact and contribute to the society and not just helping my organization make more money and getting salary raises. Maybe a change in industry would help, so I thought? I moved to the telecommunication industry, after about 10years in banking, but it was still the same. Targets, sales, commissions…to me, I felt I wasn’t giving back to society or improving my country in anyway.

Then I met my second husband, he was from Norther Nigeria and had become a digital marketing strategist. That was my first time of hearing anything like that. He started showing me what he did, it was fun and I took interest. I started reading and learning about landing pages, SEO’s, social media adverts. I wanted to know more, more about this digital revolution. I started trying my hands on them and I was loving it. We decided to start a form of an NGO called “Digyfy North”, it was an initiative to empower and educate people from the northern parts of Nigeria using digital means, both in getting an education, learning, digital marketing skills, social media skills, website development etc. Majority of the people from these parts have little or no formal education.

The problem was that we weren’t developers, did not have some needed software and had no coding or software skills. We just knew more about content and digital space, we needed to know how this happens aside using what someone has already made happen. Men …was it a struggle. Getting software engineers and developers to help out was expensive, time consuming and not very effective. Most times we were charged exorbitant bills as we were ignorant in what was needed to get what we wanted, and so we were told several software had to be bought to get some of the applications we needed. Most software engineers and developers were not so skilled because they couldn’t afford the financial cost involved in getting certified in these areas. Most of their knowledge was more from trial and error just like mine. They struggled most times and tend to abandon most projects when they face difficulties, even after being paid. I later learnt from most entrepreneurs that this was the challenge they also faced in some of their businesses. There are many opportunities and great ideas that can help most start ups in Nigeria if we had more people that could code and have software engineering expertise. Getting these expertise from foreign companies is quite expensive and sometimes not readily available as at when needed. The future is also heading towards this direction and it is key that Africa positions itself for this. I want to be among those that would impact Africa as a software engineer, to create the codes and languages that can change and impact the world.

Holberton School creates the atmosphere and the opportunity to make my dreams a reality. I can get the needed education to become a software engineer. The teaching method is one that I can’t wait to start learning with. A project based learning would enable me to use my brain more often and not just do the normal business as usual ( BAU ) way of getting things done. I can in future look at a problem alongside other students and look for the solution, than just waiting for someone to hand me the solution; which is what has kept Africa where it is today. I get to find out how best I learn. The cost of tuition is also a major obstacle for most Africans in getting the needed certification but the opportunity created by Holberton School to pay the tuition after I get an internship and real job, is a needed breakthrough. Seeing that I pay my tuition in future from a percentage of what I earn for a three-year period and not take a bank loan, would take away any form of worry or distraction associated with student tuition payments, that has made many graduates with huge student debts. Knowing that anyone can learn, despite their educational background gives hope that I can go back and impact others under the “Digify North”initiative as most of these people have no formal background and also for myself become an engineer… a software engineer, finally.