When I first heard about Andela, it sounded more than a little suspect. I mean, it’s a pretty radical concept: finding the smartest people in Africa, shaping them to be world-class software developers, linking them up with top global companies to work as remote developers, and paying them to boot? Well, colour me suspicious.
At the same time, I couldn’t shake the feeling that Andela was speaking right to me. See, sometime around my third year of uni, I had developed a somewhat unexpected interest in developing software. Ironically, I was studying Informatics, and that’s pretty techy. I had taken classes on programming, data structures and algorithms, databases… but for some reason, I wasn’t interested in programming. I thought I would end up somewhere in technical project management, or UI/UX design, or… anything but programming really.
So you can imagine my shock when I tried out Python and Django and discovered I liked it! I had tinkered with front-end technologies like HTML CSS and I liked them because I think I’m naturally inclined to design rather than functionality. But Django was just so easy to learn, and with such an engaging online community it was quite easy to get tutorials and help. Long story short, I became sold on software development.
So when I heard about Andela, despite my initial reservations, it spoke to me, particularly the whole concept of excellence and achieving world-class status. I thought why go this alone? A training program sounded like just what I needed to take me from super average, to excellent. I’ve always been mediocrity-averse.
Anyone who’s gotten to Andela knows the application process isn’t a walk in the park. Thousands apply, and less than 1% get in. It starts with an online application, and then a logical reasoning and personality test, and then a home study test covering the core concepts of computer science and software engineering. Those who pass that are invited to a face-to-face interview, and then if all goes well a two-week boot camp. And the highest performers at boot camp, get invited to be Andela fellows.
So I made it to boot camp! Almost two months after sending my initial application, I’m finally here at the Dojo, Andela’s Nairobi campus. We’re only 15, so I’m pretty proud of myself for beating the odds to make it here (close to 1000 people applied!). I know this may sound a little cult-ish, but there’s an almost electrical energy here. Everybody is so smart, and so pumped up, it’s infectious!
This article was written by Mbithe Nzomo during her boot camp. She is now an Andela fellow. Follow her on Twitter @mbithenzomo .
To find out how you could be part of Andela visit the site.