My name is Zainab Jimoh. I am an Android Developer. I am passionate about building android apps, using Kotlin programming language. I am a campus chapter lead for She Code Africa, Obafemi Awolowo University Chapter. Outside of work, I am also a makeup artist and a part-time writer. I believe in teamwork, communication, honesty, and efficiency. I chose this path for two reasons; I wanted to be unique haha, everyone around me was learning web development, and no offense to that but it just didn’t interest me. Android Development, however, wow, it got me excited, programming a mini-computer on my phone? How does it get better than this?
Before getting into the university, I had no idea what programming was. I had a vague idea from secondary school(high school) but I learned mostly about computers and how to clean them and what not to do. In retrospect, I believe my teachers were just concerned about the safety of the computers and not our knowledge haha.
I was very picky when thinking of a course of study, I was not interested in medical sciences much to the disappointment of my teachers. I would have gone for engineering but then I met a friend of my sister’s who is a Fullstack developer and he told me about programming. To be honest, what got me sold was the fact that he said I could apply it in any field I wanted. Programs and applications are getting more and more ingrained into society every day. I decided to study Computer Science and Mathematics.
I started programming by learning Python in late 2017, I had heard that it was the easiest for an absolute beginner to learn and it surprisingly was. Python was fun! I learned through Codecademy and it was a very interactive platform. I had this big red jotter where I would write down code while I practiced.
After python, I decided to take a break from programming as I had resumed school in April 2018 and wanted to put my whole focus on my studies. I could not stop thinking about programming though especially cause all of my friends were also learning at that time. So I decided to pick it back up, I was done learning Python so I went off with Java. At this point, I don’t think I had fully decided to go with Android. I just wanted to write code. I think this lack of direction coupled up with my laziness is what made my learning so slow.
I learned Java for over 6 months. Now you might think I was learning it in detail, far from it, I would learn a concept and then leave it for 2 weeks and then attempt to come back to it which of course was impossible. It was a vicious cycle. I met a senior Android Developer(Emmanuel Kehinde) in late 2018 who graciously agreed to mentor me. EK gave me deadlines which were hard to meet up in the first few months but I was still giving my best. In July 2019 or so, I finally finished up with Java and started a Bootcamp on Udacity to learn Kotlin. Udacity was a much different experience for me cause I had learned my first two languages through Codecademy and Youtube respectively. I love Udacity, however, I feel their courses still need a little oomph
I participated in a 3-month intense internship(HNG Internship) in August which did more harm than good. Pros: It was fun and gave my confidence a big boost. Cons: It was time demanding and I had to pause my Kotlin learning and focus on it. The internship used mainly Java but you see, Android was new to me, and the pace at which I was “learning” was quite detrimental to my
growth. I say “learning” because I wasn’t actually learning, it was more of doing. Still, I would highly recommend the internship, just not to absolute beginners.
2020 comes, I enrolled myself in a mentorship program by She Code Africa(A NGO in Nigeria focused on empowering girls and women in technology across Africa). My mentor here(Eniola) was a god-sent. I mainly used a course from Udacity but it was very much interesting and I was learning. Eniola also gave me my first paying job, It felt insane to be paid for something I actually loved doing. Like, wait, you wanna pay me? I could do it for free but you want to give me moneyyyy…whoa cool!
I finished the program in April and continued with my journey, building apps, and having fun. I mainly built games.
I got my first job in May. My first job. Wild.
I applied for this job through Angelist, I applied for 6 jobs but only got one call back haha. That’s the part about applying for jobs people don’t like to talk about. When you’re just starting out, apply for as much as possible because at least one is bound to click. So, this job was remote but the company headquarters was in India. It was just an intern role and most intern roles I had seen were not paid and this was so it was really cool..It paid 3000 rupees per month which was not much but I’m a student and I don’t have a lot of needs cause I was indoors and living with my parents due to the pandemic.
Your best friend is Google, the first thing I did was to start doing research, on the company, on my role, there is a ton of information out there on how to prepare for your first interview and also questions to expect that are peculiar to your field. I was extremely nervous and I stuttered a lot and forgot a bunch of stuff but my interviewer was quite kind and let me finish my sentences no matter how tough. Another thing to note is that you don’t have to know everything for your first job, it is perfectly okay to say you don’t know that concept but you learn quickly. Or you are not familiar with something but you have heard of it. After the interview, I wasn’t sure how I did, and he still had three more people to interview, my best friend was one of them. Yeah, we applied for the same job haha…
I got an email from him the next day with a test project to do and after doing that(pretty excellently, I must brag), I got in. It felt so good, knowing that it was just my efforts that got me in. I also learned a few things while doing the text project, like building a camera screen so I had consoled myself with the knowledge that even if I don’t get accepted, at least I learned something. The job was only for 3 months but I learned so much.
I have applied for many more jobs since then, I finished the interview of one but they never called back. My advice? Be positive but don’t get your hopes up. It’s hard not to sometimes but just try, cause it’s gonna sting pretty hard if you don’t get in.
A way to be sure to be ready for interviews is to constantly keep yourself updated. I am subscribed to a bunch of newsletters; Android weekly, Dev.to, and others. I don’t read every article but it does help. Also, don’t forget to follow your favorite Google Developer Experts on Twitter, you’d be surprised at how much subtle information you learn by following the right people. My mentor always says “Luck is the opportunity that meets preparation”.
I have a bad habit of beating myself up when I don’t get a job, don’t be like me. Be kind to yourself. Prepare 110%. Learn everything you need to learn about your field, learn soft skills, how to talk to people and whatnot, and learn how to give outstanding answers to tricky questions. A lot of companies do not just value what kind of code you can write, but being a decent person is also required. Most of all, don’t sweat it. You’ve got this. I believe in you.