SELF-RELIANCE- That’s our watchword at the TIIDELab fellowship. The journey to self-reliance sounds good yeah? But trust me…it’s a lot of work!
My TIIDELab journey started one month ago, it’s been interestingly challenging and a roller coaster of emotions. From happy days to sad days, to feeling pressured and struggling with the feeling of anxiety which also translates to what I recently learned is called ‘ impostor syndrome’; you can look it up. But let me give you a little background. Have you ever struggled with an unsettling feeling of not being as smart as people think you are? Or happen to dwell in self-doubt and feel like a you’re not good enough every once in a while?. Studies show that 70% of adults will feel these at least once in their lives. So, you are not alone.
It is especially common with people who have set the bar so high for themselves and feel everything has to be perfect (Nice to meet you. Lol.). This is one of the reasons I ran away from coding years ago because I felt like I would fail at it and everyone will know that I’m not even as smart as they thought.
People I let into my space, my family-inclusive for some reason see me as that smart girl who has it all figured out. As a result, these assumptions add to my worry about not meeting up to expectations. Deep within me, coding is something I admire and always wanted to do. So, I decided to face my fears.
The urge to quit has come countless times and I have cried myself to sleep on many nights but thanks to all those who take their time to encourage me and always remind me that I am doing better than I think. Hence, thanks to Tiidelab, I am on a journey to believing in myself and acknowledging my little wins.
This self-doubt, in-fact almost cost me my spot at TIIDELab. The TIIDELab screening process was in three stages and after the first stage, I got a 60%; pass mark which I would later learn was 70% and obviously, my grade was a fail. I was sad. To my surprise, I received an email saying I made it to the next stage; 81 out of 900 applicants were selected. I was thrilled. The next stage was to build a signup form with a material they provided as a guide. I did it and went for the interview. On the day of the interview, I had to look for the venue for over two hours, didn’t even remember to use my google map because I was already getting agitated. Finally, found the venue a few minutes before the slated time and sat down waiting to be called. Facing the panel, I couldn’t just get it together and it was pretty obvious. At a point, they had to ask who did the signup form and I responded, “me”. They didn’t seem convinced and I wouldn’t have believed myself either because it was evident that I was already a wreck. After a few more questions, I was told to go and they’ll get back to me. Not very promising. Bottom line, I left with a very heavy heart.
I kept checking my email every minute but didn’t find anything. I felt even if I didn’t even make it, I should at least receive an email saying that. Apparently , it was my network or something preventing a congratulatory message into the fellowship. I received a call after two days to ask if I received their email, because they noticed it didn’t deliver. I tried to contain my excitement through the phone call. I even did a little dance after the call. For someone who is bad at dancing, I didn’t know where it came from. 35 fellows made it into the fellowship.
Pheeew…That was long, right? My apologies.
So here is a rundown of how it’s been so far at the fellowship.
The fellowship started with a virtual orientation ceremony. Mr. Kadiri Salami (CEO/Founder, TIIDELab) urged fellows to learn to sell themselves, talk about what they do , see coding as a tool for problem solving and on. My key takeaway was- “For you to be successful at anything, you need about 80 percent of your time and practice. Practice! Practice! Practice!”. A couple of other speakers also spoke; all in a bid to set a pace for the journey ahead.
In the first week, we learned “Getting the interview” a course that exposed what exactly recruiters expect on a resume and how to ace interviews. This was followed by an introduction to “The Big O Notation” by Mr. Saheed Adepoju who works with intel and is currently running a Ph.D. program in the USA. Thereafter, we were taught “Data Structures and Algorithms” by Mr. Farouk Alogba.
I was captivated by the importance of the “Data Structures and Algorithms” and “The Big O Notation” in programming generally. “The Big O Notation” teaches you how to take into account time and space complexity as well as scalability while writing codes.
Miss Grace Ejegwa introduced us to “Version Control Systems” particularly Git and Github and I was taken by how Version Control Systems make the life of a programmer easy and collaborating on projects fun.
Weeks two and three were focused on “Advanced HTML and CSS”, this was taken by Mr. Solomon Chokor. With the knowledge gained, we were able to build a portfolio website for ourselves. If you ever disrespected front-end developers please I urge you to retake your stand. You can spend hours trying to position a div. There’s no better way to test your problem-solving skills.
Finally, in week four we were taught how to write a “Systems Requirement Specification (SRS)” document as well as a “Functional Requirement Document(FRD)” . The importance of these documents in software engineering cannot be overemphasized because they minimize the amount of time and effort developers have to spend to achieve desired software goals. Fellows were shared into groups and given project topics to work on. My team which we named — dream catchers were given the task of developing a web-based project management tool we call “Bascom Projects”; after comparing existing tools, our aim is to provide an easy to use Project Management Tool for everyone. Though a work in progress, through this task, I am building strong team collaboration skills.
Here at TIIDELab, it’s not just about coding but they make sure to build us as individuals by teaching us soft skills and how to position ourselves.
Our in house “Big brother” Mr. Shamsudeen Aderoju (Program CoordinatorTiidelab) and Mr. Pishikeni Tukura( Business Development TIIDELAB), alongside different guest speakers namely Mr. Babayemi Ibrahim O (Godrej, Nigeria Limited, Lagos, Nigeria) and Mr. Bankole Oloruntoba( CEO, Nigeria Climate Innovation Center, Lagos, Nigeria) also taught us soft skills such as self-reliance, problem-solving, team building, problem framing, profiling, organizational skills, communication and more. In the words of Mr. Pishikeni Tukura “positioning beats talent”. I have learned, unlearned, and relearned.
Did I forget to mention that we are learning remotely? Well, yeah. We have a daily schedule of activities from 9–5 via zoom on Mondays to Thursdays with fellows joining in from Lagos and Abuja. We also have the “TIIDELab brain alertness challenge” , a “Cognitive Ability Test” before class every day except Fridays (Story for another day); In the words of Big brother, “our morning tea” . Take it from me, whether you’re asleep, awake, or on break, it’s all TIIDELab in your head. You’re either trying to catch up on self-learning materials after the 9–5 or doing some assignment with a deadline 😂.
Every Friday, we have physical meet-ups and also connect virtually with Lagos via zoom on a large screen. This is when the soft skills classes take place. We participate in intellectual but also fun games and group activities to test our ability to solve problems and challenge our critical thinking.
These games also determine the Head of House(HoH) for the week. Winners and winning teams go home with gift vouchers as a reward for hard work and an encouragement for others to do better. At TIIDELab, every fellow loves Friday.
And yes, we have diary sessions too over the weekend with Mr. Shasmudeen (Big brother); where we get to express ourselves, fears, concerns and also check our progress.
Fellows receive a monthly data subscription of 40GB to enable effective participation. This is made possible by our sponsors, TIIDELab, Industrial Training Fund(ITF) and Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA). Thank you.
I cannot end this without recognizing Mr. Kadir Salami,(CEO/Founder TIIDELAb) and the entire TIIDELAB team. Thank you.
Finally, a popular saying goes,“ What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”; I am gradually developing a thick skin, as I am not the same girl that joined Tiidelab one month ago 😂😂.
Thank you for reading.