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How I Narrowly Failed To Join Andela Software Company

It was my desire to work for any software company someday, I have never studied software engineering or even computer programming in school. The little knowledge I had was through self-taught. One day I was checking my facebook account, I landed on Andela sponsored post via my newsfeed, I click on it, read through and finally decided to apply, that was in November 2016, by then, Andela was having just one office in East Africa and that was in Nairobi, Kenya.

Check also: Why Facebook Gave $24 Million To Andela, A Nigerian IT Company

That was before they opened up a terminal in Kampala, Uganda. They sent me different questionnaires and lab tests in different programming and mark-up languages. I underwent all these and finally, I was called for an interview in Nairobi.

I traveled to Nairobi, Kilimani where Andela offices are located. The day I reached Andela, it was at 8:45, and the interview was supposed to begin at 9:30am. I reached the gate and I introduced myself to the security. I signed in the book. After that, the security lady brought a piece of paper, she looked at it and asked? ‘’ Are you Lukwago Juma from Uganda? “Yes,” I answered. I wondered how organized these guys were.

The security lady told me to go and have a seat in one of the tents which was placed in the compound—while waiting for the interview time. In the tent, I found one Kenyan guy by the names of Humphrey who had also come for his interview.

At 9:30 sharp, we were called inside, there came a lady. She introduced herself to us. After that, she took us in an interview room. She gave each person a piece of paper with questionnaires. They were computer programming questions. Both of us had come with our laptops but she said that we did not need to use them at the time. Instead, she gave us pens to write and she said she has only given us 25 minutes to finish up. You don’t need to copy your friend because each person was given different questions, ‘’she said.

After that part, she sent us to a certain tent where we found a man waiting for us for the second interview. He called us one at a time, I went to him first, he looked so friendly as he continued asking me different questions, after he told me that I should wait for their email in about two days to confirm whether I passed the interview or not.

When I got done with the interview, I left Andela and I went back to Nairobi city centre and booked a bus back to Kampala.  I checked my email again while in Kampala, and found that they had already sent me an email congratulating me for having passed the interview. I was told to go back to Andela for two weeks developers’ Boot-camp. I was happy but again I was afraid because I didn’t have enough money to facilitate me on accommodation and feeding while I would be in Nairobi.

One of my friends here in Uganda connected me to his Kenyan friend who stays in Nairobi. I talked to him on phone before I traveled back to Nairobi and he accepted to provide me with free accommodation during the Boot-camp. When I reached Andela the second time, I met so many people including my fellow Ugandans, Tanzanians and the Kenyans themselves and all of them were invited to attend the developers Boot-camp—the total number we were 39.

It was my first time to attend a developers’ Boot-camp, but to my surprise, I participated very well and many thought I studied software engineering in school, basing on my presentation. Before we ended the day, we were given assignments that we were supposed to do off-campus for almost a week. The assignment we were given included theory and coding (lab tests). The funny part was that in Andela, the only programming languages that are accepted are Python and Javascript, though there’s need to also know markup languages like HTML, XML etc. So if you’re not familiar with these languages, it becomes so hard for you, if not, you should be a quick learner.

By the time we came back the following week, five of us where nowhere to be seen. I think it was because the assignment that was given to us was too hard for them. It was a Monday which marked the beginning of the second week, remember, we were 39 in the beginning, now we remained 34. At 4:30pm that very day, our facilitators began selecting, they started calling us one by one. Many were coming out of the selection room disappointed. When my turn came, they called me.

I was a bit nervous and some of my group members said that I must sail through given how I had been participating. When I reached the selection room, the facilitator asked, “Do you want to hear good news or bad news?” I replied, “I will go with whatever comes.” He laughed and said, “Juma you’ve gone through, everyone has seen your presentations and participation from the day the Boot-camp began. Therefore, you deserved it” I was happy. Am glad that I used to learn something new every day.

We remained 16 out of 34 people. Then we were given the biggest and difficult assignments to work on until the final day which was a Friday. I was given a project to work on and that was called ‘’JOURNAL FLASK APP’’ and they gave me a number of tutorials to follow when building that app, it was my first time to work on such a project. I had never learnt flask and python itself, I found a hard time developing the Journal Flask App.

I used to spend sleepless nights trying to implement it. The time was limited compared to the project I was given. That Friday was the day for the final selections and whoever goes through was to be given a full time job as a computer programmer or a software developer at Andela.

When we reached Friday, my project was not fully ready, I built the home page very well and also implemented the sign in buttons—a User could use to sign in. However, the dashboard could not work. That is what I was able to work on. I presented the project to other developers, but it was not good enough to make me qualify.

I was told to try again in a few months. I thank God that even if I never qualified to join Andela, I was able to learn a lot of software engineering and web-development skills within that short period of time, and right now, am self-employed. I build both static and dynamic websites for different businesses mainly using Content Management System scripts such as wordpress, Drupal and Oxwall. I also develop Apps aswell as managing and maintenance.

Thank you Andela!

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About lukwago J

Posted by LUKWAGO. J: He's a writer, editor, blogger, affiliate and a web developer, he loves thinking creatively and finding new ways to implement different programming ideas.

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