In partnership with Grow with Google and Pluralsight, Andela launched a program to upskill developers in Africa – The Google Africa Developer Scholarship “GADS.” GADS is an opportunity for aspiring developers who want to kick start their journey in tech and advance their knowledge and skills in Android and Google Cloud.
We are pleased to feature Chrismarcel James, an amazing graduate of the GADS 2019 program. Join us as he highlights his career journey and the impact that the GADS program has had on his career growth.
Fasten your seat belts! Here is Chrismarcel’s inspirational journey!
Interviewer: We are so happy to have you today! Please tell us more about yourself and your educational background.
Chrismarcel: I am pleased to be here with you, too. I am from Lagos, Nigeria, with a software engineering background. I am currently working as a front end developer engineer with a fantastic team, and I couldn’t have done it without the GADS program.
Interviewer: That’s awesome! We’re curious to know more about your current role and how you got this job opportunity.
Chrismarcel: I built my technical experience with the Andela team. Given that I am in Lagos, I researched what they do and how I could participate in their online sessions, meetups, and events. The opportunity to network and attend the online sessions introduced me to the Andela Learning Community (ALC). I am currently working at Homevision, a USA-based company. In my current role, I use React to help promote accessibility, build UI, and improve the customer experience. Besides my full-time job, I manage to fill my spare time by working on different personal projects using new technologies for my professional growth.
Interviewer: That’s impressive, Chrismarcel; we’re very proud of you! But we want to dig deeper into your background; please share more with us.
Chrismarcel: Yeah, sure! I’ve lived my whole life in Lagos and studied Computer Science Engineering at a school in Abia state. As you might know, we don’t get in-depth technical training in school, so I joined a few organizations as an intern to build my technical skills. In 2019, I joined the GADS program, where I gained the knowledge and skills needed to grow my career, and I have been working as a software engineer ever since.
Interviewer: Please, Chrismarcel, tell us how you decided to become a software developer despite the challenge of the lack of technical training in your academic degree.
Chrismarcel: Back at school, I studied general software engineering courses; however, at that time, I didn’t have any inclination toward a specific technical area. After graduation, I utilized being a member of the ALC. That helped me develop my skills, finetuning my career choices, and meeting peers/mentors who share the same interests.
Interviewer: Speaking of the Andela Learning Community, tell us more about your experience with the ALC like which program you chose and a bit about the impact the program has had on your career journey.
Chrismarcel: Joining ALC is the best decision that I have ever made in my career! The GADS program in 2019 was a partnership between Andela, Google, and Udacity. I believe that the current program includes the Pluralsight learning platform. The experience was beneficial as I got introduced to industry practitioners and experts with long-term experience in well-known companies like Airbnb. I highly recommend all software engineers worldwide join the GADS program to enrich their business and technical expertise. It is the best program for those who have 0 years of experience and want to start their software engineering career. Moreover, I had the opportunity to build business skills and look at the product from the user perspective. Also, I have developed my decision-making skills which are just as important as my technical skills.
Interviewer: That’s inspiring, and leads us to our next question. What are the proudest moments in your career so far?
Chrismarcel: The proudest moment in my career was when I got certified after completing the GADS 2019 program as a Google Web Developer. I was ecstatic to reach the program’s certification phase because I felt my hard work had paid off! My second proudest moment was when I helped launch an app for the third biggest beverage brand in Switzerland.
Interviewer: Those are some outstanding achievements! Do you think you can share more details on your Google Certification experience and your experience launching an app?
Chrismarcel: I was very anxious before taking the exam as I felt like I wasn’t prepared enough; however, I managed to connect to certified people to learn from their experiences before me. I put extra effort into preparation, and it was a success. For the second part of your question, I helped launch an app as a Front End Developer by interacting with product owners and designers and focused mainly on the accessibility and optimization parts of the project.
Interviewer: Thanks for sharing this with us, Chrismarcel, that’s inspirational, and we believe there are always challenges that help fuel us to succeed. So, what were some of the challenges you overcame during the GADS program?
Chrismarcel: Definitely, it is all about turning those challenges into opportunities. As for my challenges back then, I believe that the internet connection and the power were the most challenging part of completing the program. As you might know, we face these challenges all over the continent, which affect the online learning process, but we need to be persistent and resilient to achieve our goals. On the technical side, I had challenges with resource availability and keeping up with evolving technology. One should be a lifelong learner and always ready to enhance one’s skills. This is where we see the most significant impact of the GADS program. Once enrolled, you have access to materials on the learning platform and the opportunity to connect with people in the ALC community. That shaped my experience and gave me exposure to valuable learning opportunities. Also, as a way to give back, I’ve had the chance to mentor the GADS learners now that I’ve finished the program. It is truly a golden opportunity for any engineer to be a mentor and help others to sharpen their skills on so many levels.
Interviewer: It’s great to see how you have overcome those challenges and made it to the certification phase. You have mentioned before that your salary has increased over time and the GADS program helped you to land a great job with great benefits. What was the impact of your career growth on your economic status?
Chrismarcel: I have been able to care for my immediate and extended family. Initially, it was a challenge, but my salary increased by 10 to 15 times since I started. This has helped me maintain a better lifestyle. I am responsible for several significant personal expenses, and I can now facilitate them much more accessible than before this program.
Interviewer: That’s great to know how the GADS program impacted you and your family. We believe that there are many software engineers out there who are excited about GADS. Could you please share your advice for anyone interested in the GADS program in the future?
Chrismarcel: It is 100% worth it; you have access to resources, access to people, and working with intelligent peers and mentors. It is an opportunity that you should embrace to build your career and your network.
Interviewer: Thanks for the encouraging words, Chrismarcel. So what your career aspirations are after those significant milestones you have achieved so far?
Chrismarcel: I have big aspirations! But basically, my main goal is the transition into Team Lead or Product Management. Also, I am looking into starting my own business in the future.
Interviewer: Thank you for your time and for sharing your feedback and insights. We wish you success in your career and hope you continue to move forward. Do you have any questions that you would like to ask before we close?
Chrismarcel: Thanks for the opportunity, and I would like to ask what your plan is for the GADS program.
Interviewer: That’s a great question! For us, the next step is to match our GADS graduates with job opportunities that best meet their skills and requirements.
Chrismarcel: Yeah, that makes sense, and I wish all my peers and the GADS graduates the best in their future aspirations.
Interviewer: Thanks, Chrismarcel, once again for making it out, and it has been a pleasure having this conversation with you.
Chrismarcel: Pleasure is all mine; thank you!