DevRetro2022: From Calls To Code

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What a year!

This year, 2022, was my official takeoff year in my Software Developer Journey and it has been nothing less than amazing.

I went from being a green developer to working with a remote team to build a project from ideation to release with Colab, I got admitted into AltSchoolAfrica and I am in the last stage of acquiring my Software Engineering Diploma, I was accepted in the Outreachy open source program which simultaneously exposed me to the Open source community and launched my technical writing career. I also switched from frontend development to DevOps Engineering and was able to land a job as a DevOps Engineer.

Before this year, I had a career as a medical doctor. I discovered the world of code while still in medical school and played around with it building little side projects that I would show to my friends and get excited about.

I enjoyed what I was doing.

After the pandemic, I realized I wanted to take this hobby seriously and began to search for ways to make money from it. I worked as a freelance front-end developer on Upwork, working with the Javascript framework, Angular.

When I was done with medical school, I did a bit of reflection and decided to pursue this journey full-time in 2022 and see where it took me.

A friend of mine encouraged me to sign up for Alt Sch and since I couldn’t afford the fees then, paid for it for me. I studied super hard for the exam and I got accepted.

This experience propelled me to apply for more opportunities that were open to people like me and that’s how I found Colab. I applied, got interviewed and was notified that I got a scholarship into the program so I could participate for free.

Colab is a program that runs for 8 weeks, taking people from all over the world, pairing them into teams composed of software engineers, product managers, product designers and a mentor attached and guiding them to build a project.

It was an exciting experience for me because I got to experience the software development circle. I met people from various parts of the world and solidified my remote working skills.

I was especially proud of myself during this program because before this I had experience working with Angular, which meant I had to learn React within that time frame to be able to build something with my team which had a preference for React.

I got to brainstorm with my teammates about a problem space, a solution we could build, how to build it and our intended audience. It was a lot of fun. You can check out what we built here.

When I ended that program, I already had a job offer from a company I had been admiring for the longest time. I however took on the role unofficially because, at the end of that program, I had my eyes set on another, Outreachy.

Outreachy is a paid open-source internship that runs for 3 months. They have a lot of organizations that contributors can pick from and have mentors attached that guide you through the program. There are 3 phases, the application phase where you officially apply for the program, the contribution phase, where you pick the organizations you want to work with and make contributions to their project then the final phase, the internship phase where if selected, you officially begin your internship program.

My first impression of Outreachy was one of inquisitiveness. I had no idea what open source was, what open science was or how their communities worked however I was curious.

I started to research and learn and by the end of the week, I was hooked.

Coming from a medical background, I was super excited when I saw a project that was building a healthcare solution and it fueled my motivation. I applied for Outreachy and surprisingly was accepted.

The contribution phase was the hardest for me because I had a lot to learn. I had no idea what Linux was, or what containers were, I was a complete novice and the community I selected to work in had space for only one intern.

I selected just one community, The ChRIS Project, even though it is advised to select 2 or 3 to increase your chances. I zeroed in on the ChRIS project because above all, I wanted to learn and I felt juggling a lot of organizations would not allow me to learn as much as I wanted to.

At the end of my contribution period, I felt I knew nothing and my entire Software Development journey leading to that point was a lie. I felt I had been an imposter all along and maybe I should consider something else.

I spent the next month waiting for the result reflecting and wondering if I should go back to the hospital because at that point, almost half the year had gone by and I felt I was nowhere.

I began to nurture the idea of writing about the stuff I had learned so far but I felt writing was only meant for super senior engineers till Charlene encouraged me to ignore gatekeeping in technical writing and just start. This propelled me to start writing and now I am happy to say I have a technical blog on hashnode with over 13 articles. I enjoy writing these articles and I always hope someone finds them useful.

To my utmost surprise, I got accepted by my community for the Outreachy internship and this blew up my career journey.

I had the most amazing mentor that made me feel like It was okay not knowing and prioritized learning and communication. I spent most of my internship juggling between feeling overwhelmed and like an imposter and part of it feeling elated and surprised by the things I could do.

I had a project I had to complete during my three-month internship and not only did I complete it a month early, but I also got to work on another project and officially started my technical writing journey.

During my last month on outreachy, I began to ponder on what was next for me. I enjoyed automating stuff and working with RedHat engineers exposed me to DevOps which I found fascinating and I decided to put my focus on becoming a DevOps engineer.

At the end of my internship, I had a final presentation, talking about everything I did which you can check out here.

Post my outreachy Internship, I felt stronger, I knew at this point I could do anything I wanted to do and I knew how to learn so I started my DevOps journey. I joined a couple of communities that guided me to places I could learn from. The two that stood out for me were Techworld with Nana and MichealCades 90 days of DevOps. I followed these two teachers religiously while at my school, AltSchool, we had begun to tackle DevOps and Cloud projects head-on.

All these experiences led me to my first job. The interview was a bit herculean because it coincided with the weekend I had my Alt School semester exam so I felt like I couldn’t breathe.

At the end of it, I was promoted to the next semester and I had a job.

Now, I am working on other side projects, prioritizing healthcare projects, contributing to open source, writing about tools I find interesting and working at my job.

Many times I see people who are doing cool stuff and I wonder when that will happen for me. I have however learned to slow down and enjoy every stage of life as it is about the journey, not the destination.

I have come a long way and I am happy I decided to bet on myself this year. I am looking forward to next year as I want to play an active role at helping others navigate the tech space, contribute to more Open source/ Open Science projects and maybe build something interesting :)

I am happy for the friends I made along the way and all the strangers that supported me. Thank you so much.

I believe in everyone’s journey some people opened doors for them, gave them financial support and advocated for them. We can return the favor by helping others come in, giving back and holding the ladder for others to climb up.

Here’s to betting on ourselves!