Rehema Wachira's Developer Journey: Doing Work That Matters
Rehema Wachira is a software developer at Andela Kenya. In this post, we'll be looking at her journey into software development and the work she does as a leading technologist. This is a transcribed interview.
What did you do before Andela?
Andela is my first job as a software developer. I studied Political and Social Thought for my undergraduate degree and worked at a few non-profits before moving to Brand and Consumer Advertising for a telecommunications company.Advertising was creative, fast-paced, and most importantly, it helped me think about products like mobile money from the perspective of the people using them. With each new product, we had to understand not just how a thing worked but also what solution it was solving, what it would enable someone to do and how that would enrich their lives. I saw the huge positive impact that different technologies could have on individuals, their communities and their countries. Given my early interest in human development and social enterprise, I realized that working in the tech sector would help me do good and do well.Although I loved the creativity of the ad industry, I decided I wanted to be more involved in the actual creation of the products that we marketed. But to make this transition, I knew I’d need to develop some technical skills.
How did you learn to code?
Initially, I used online resources like Codecademy and Udemy but soon found out about Andela. I still had my full-time job so I didn’t apply at first until a chance meeting with someone familiar with Andela convinced me to send in an application. They said I’d get access to the Home Study material which would be a great resource to level-up quickly.I was only a few months into my self-teaching journey at this point and was surprised to find that I enjoyed writing code a lot more than I thought I would, so I jumped at the opportunity to learn more!
Why did you choose to become a software developer? (Or how did you decide this was the path you wanted to take?)
I have to admit, as much as I was starting to get hooked by the thrill of making a computer do things, I still wasn’t entirely sure I wanted to swap my interest in product development for software development until I went to interview at the Dojo. The Andelans I met there were some of the most passionate, energized people I’d ever met. I also loved that Andela’s mission is centered around advancing human potential in African countries. The people and the culture resonated with my desire to both build cool things and do meaningful work.
What is your favourite thing about being a software developer?
I think there is a misconception that a software engineer spends their days alone in a dark room typing strange incantations into a dimly-lit computer.Developing software is actually an incredibly collaborative activity whose sole purpose is to provide a solution to a problem. Whether that problem is access to financial services or access to convenient transportation, technology can help transform our lives for the better. As a software developer, I get to use my creativity, empathy, and logic to help shape people’s interactions with each other.
What is your tech stack?
I work primarily with Ruby/Ruby on Rails and, more recently, with React.js as well.
What are the products you've built or are collaborating on that you're most proud of (you don't have to name proprietary products/projects)?
I built an MVP for one of Andela’s partners that simplified the confusing and time-consuming process of creating a non-profit organization. As someone who’s worked in non-profits, I recognized how challenging this can be and was eager to help.I’m really excited to also be working with an organization called Women Who Code which champions women’s careers in tech for developers, technical founders and others who, just like me, want to join tech communities that support and inspire them. I love working on features that make our digital platform more personalized and relevant to our members who come from all over the world.
Are you open to mentoring newbie devs? If yes, how may they contact you?
Serving as a bridge between the engineering and business sides of an organization, application engineers are highly sought after - and by upskilling in this field, you can set yourself up for an incredibly impactful and lucrative career.