Sunday, 18 June 2017

My Experience with Andela ALC - The Journey begins

One morning, I stumbled on a post from TechPoint that Celestine Omin will be leaving Konga for Andela. I had met Celestine in church(HoneyStreams Christian Centre - Calabar) in 2011, so humble and quiet, I couldn’t have guessed what he did until after he came up to testify of being the winner of the Google Chrome Extension Challenge held in Lagos in 2011. Immediately after service, I followed him and talked with him about my interest in programming, he encouraged me to continue, giving me reasons to push harder, recommended some materials for me and promised to be of help anytime I asked.

Long story short, I didn’t keep in touch, it wasn't long before the struggles of my academics caught up with me - I was in my first year studying Computer Science in University of Calabar. I took his advice though, learnt HTML, CSS, PHP, Javascript, MYSQL. In 2012, I built a CBT application for JAMB, WAEC, and NECO. Although the app functioned well, my computer soon had a problem, and I lost all my files. For months, I didn’t have a computer to work with and that was a serious blow to my programming career and passion.

Now, back to Celestine, hearing he was moving to Andela, made me ask the big question - who is Andela? I read a little about Andela and immediately made up my mind that I wanted to work with them; I read they worked with python a lot, so I started reading up on Python. It wasn't long before an opportunity came and I applied for the Paid Internship with Andela. My code couldn't pass the first test, I did all I could and it didn't work. I decided I will bid my time, learn more about programming and apply again. It was during this time that the Andela Beginner Android Scholarship came up and I applied and got taken.

Android development had always been a dream, but the fear of not being good at it had actually eaten deep without my knowledge. I had often made excuses as to why I haven’t come up with my own android app. My journey into programming has been filled with trying so many programming languages, and working on the one project that will make all the difference had been a challenge. In 2014 I worked on Four (4) applications for students projects including - a School Library System, a Result Computing System, a system to send results to students via SMS, A course Registration System and my own Project in 2015 for providing a report of all development projects carried out by the government. I was still not satisfied; I wanted to be able to create plugins for Chrome, Firefox, CorelDraw, Android applications that will change how we share information. Ideas kept coming but the skills were "far from reached" so I dug deeper, and the deeper I dug, the farther I felt from reaching my goal. All this created a kind of fear in me.

When I took the Udacity’s Google Android Development course, I did it with a goal to understand how Andelans think about programs so I would pass the test for the paid internship. I only realized how much fun I had gotten into, after I built the first app. It didn't do much but it was fun, working with the layout and struggling to position the different views on the parent view. 

After the first app, everything became so easy, I finished the entire course and did my projects in less than two months. The Udacity courses are taught so simple that learning the principles behind what they do is quite easy, the more I learnt, the more I tried to implement what I learnt in other ideas that came to my mind, soon I had mastered it. Before the end of the course I had done the Android Multi-Screen App Course on Udacity and was moving forward and that is when tragedy struck.

My phone I used for testing and sharing Internet got bad, my modem got blown, with no source of Internet or testing my apps for almost a month, it became almost impossible to submit the projects I had worked on. With the little resources I had, I gave another phone out for repair and it never came back. Frustrated, I almost gave up, but the passion that had been built by the things I had already been able to accomplish in such a short time did not let me, so I kept pushing till I got another modem, submitted the projects I needed to submit and would often borrow phones to test my apps.
Testing my app with Facilitator - Nsikak Thompson
The final meetup (5.0) was the crown of it all. I had looked forward to it; hearing about the Hackathon, only added to the fever and I was well prepared. To conclude the matter, I came first in the Hackathon and won a brand new 10400MAH Romoss Power Bank and my Facilitator added his own personal special gift
Gift from Andela
Thanks to Andela, Chimdindu Aneke, and Nsikak Thompson - my facilitator, My Team mates SS-Team-11 (CodeDroid), and all the guys who supported me especially those who shared their Internet with me and phones. God bless you.

Please comment, share, like, and read my next post on what my journey with Andela has taught me.