Caleb

Time's up. But, I'm not done yet.

July 8, 2022 14 min read

It was approximately 5:56 PM (WAT), July 5th, 2022, when I started writing this wrap-up in my journal — should I call it a "wrap-up"? well... I guess I'll just go with it jare. "anywhere belle face"

I'd be telling a lie if I said I wasn't terrified when the idea of leading the community was brought, or should I say suggested? Well, and again, I think I'll just go with suggested — to me by the former Lead, Adio Mojeed. Immediately, I told him "NO".

Truth be told, I was sad, sad that I said "NO" because all that I could think of at that moment was the awesome SWAGS that I'd be missing out on if I do not become the next lead, lame, and petty, right? — Yes, "mumu" me thought that's all there is to becoming a community Lead.

But, more of the reason why I refused to take up the role was that, hell... I'd be in my final year by the time I'm back from my SIWES Program. It is kind of a program all penultimate-year students embark on to gain "industry level experience" — industry level experience in quotes because yeah, it was a total waste of time for me, coupled with the fact that I had mine at Lagos. God! I hate Lagos — in their respective fields of study.

And final year is definitely going to be choked up — Lmao! I'm feeling the pressure as I write this — You'd ask me how I knew this. Well, it's because I'm from a department that is after my life, since year three (3). Pretty sure when folks from my department eventually read this, they'd get the gist. But, let's stop there sha.

So; we sat down — I, the lead, and some of the former core team members, and we decided to look for folks in the community that'll be capable, but, we couldn't. This was due to the skepticism of the former lead though, and the fact that a lot of the folks who'd have loved to take up the role will be in their final year, "who wants to risk their final year?" lol.

Since he's been a lead for a while, back then and he knew that the role isn't for someone who knows how to just write the most "elegant" code or someone who has a great deal of experience in doing "blah blah blah"... Yunno what I mean.

So yeah, we were left with no choice as we needed someone to apply before the deadline. It was a dire time for us as a community mehnn! because most of the core-team members that were really exposed in the tech ecosystem would be graduating that year. So how am I gonna handle stuffs without these folks in the community, if I become the next lead? That thought was among the things I considered. I was like, "I'm gonna die if I eventually take up this role". Well... I lied, I didn't actually die, even though I almost did, but, we rugged am, even for inside trenches, we still gallant!

I became the lead. So Now, what's next?

To be honest, I had no clue of what I was gonna do, or what I was even gonna be doing for the next couple of months when I received the mail.

I can remember clearly that the mail came in on a Sunday afternoon, in August last year, a lot of folks received theirs and started sharing the "good news" on Twitter, I hadn't — I received mine, at approximately the same time everyone got theirs, but it was located the spam folder of mail. I didn't even bother to check, because well, I was still indifferent about my choice of even applying to lead the community in the first place. My predecessors were worried that I hadn't received my mail, "I no send dem". Deep down I was happy that I had not been selected.

NO, literally, I was happy mehnn! because now I'd have time to focus on getting my grades back up. See ehnnn... there's this truth that no one tells you when you're about to get into tech as a student. Although, people say "tech is blood money, and you pay the price with your blood". But, as a student in Nigeria, the case is different, because you'd be paying with your blood and grades. Know this one, and know peace.

Amidst all my mumu hopes of being rejected, I still got the mail.

First weeks as the lead and onboarding

I got the mail like I said, sadly. I did all that was required of me in the instructions that came with the mail. We had the onboarding call with our Regional Leads, Auwal MS, Aniedi Udo & Ada Oyom, and I can remember that a survey was out that day during the call, about how we feel. I remember a lot of folks saying they feel "overwhelmed".

Truth be told, I still feel overwhelmed — but in a good way now though. It shows how fleeting time can be whenever I think about how we started the whole journey last year, and here I am writing this on a piece of paper.

We wrapped up the onboarding process, I had to start thinking of organizing my first event, and selecting my core team members. The first event was around introducing members of our community to open source contributions.

It wasn't that great, and it wasn't that "bad" either. It was my first event, coupled with the fact that it was virtual, and we — in our community — know how crazy things can be with students when it comes to doing things online.

Folks that do not even want to show up for weekly meetups sef, you now brought the idea of a virtual event to them... Bruh!!! you'd listen to the myriads of excuses, you'd almost bleed your eyes out. Lmao!

I think the greatest highlight of my tenure was the fact that I got to work with the best core team members and I got out of my shell... like, I literally started having real-life conversations with people. I even got to see life from other people's perspectives.

Omor I don tire! My back is paining me, I'll continue later when I have the strength to type on my PC. Na who dey alive dey tell story.

Okay... I'm back! Took me some hours of losing myself in the endless "scrolldom" of TikTok, but yeah, I'm back now. Okay, back to the core team members aspect.

Yeah! I got to choose awesome folks, and the funny thing is, most of them do NOT even write code, and I loved that, because, I think, and I kinda know that developers or folks who have some sort of technical background — may probably have written just one line of code in their lifetime — tend to think too technically in situations that they are not supposed to.

A problem that would require you to do just "B", someone somewhere would want to flex all their muscles and think of the greatest level of abstraction that they can add to their solution to make it "efficient", because you know, "na dem dey there".

The majority of my core team members were from non-STEM departments, yes, you read that right! Business Admin, Entrepreneurship you name them!

And there's this sense of continuity that my community has, even some of the alumni of the club volunteered to become core-team members just to get the ball rolling. That alone eased most of my workload, and for that, I indeed, am so grateful!

Sapa, the community, our plans & how we're building capacity.

If there's anything I can remember vividly. it is something a chap said to me when I attended this invite-only event — Sustain Africa — organized by OSCA (Opensource Community Africa). I think he was a former GDSC Lead at a university in the south-south region of the country.

He said to me: "running a community is hard, and you need to have money as a Lead". Dang! that hit me hard, because bruhh! I and Sapa were best friends then — not like I have money now, abeg o!

Yeah, as a Lead, some things may arise that you may have to take care of in the community, and you most likely would not have the luxury of applying for support from organizations or partners of the community, even if you do apply, sometimes the responses may take longer than expected to arrive.

So, how did I make money? Well... my main area of expertise is in the Frontend aspect of the web. To a layman, I "build websites". But, to someone technical, I create experiences that are aesthetically pleasing for people, while prioritizing the accessibility and performance of such software interfaces, on, and for the web.

But, let's be factual, everything still boils down to being a student — in Nigeria — and sometimes, in this tech journey, you may get lucky, and you may not.

I allowed my "good student" side to deprive me of a lot of gigs, and potential Frontend — sometimes, internship — Engineering roles. I'd be so skeptical of how it'll affect my academics and blah blah blah, well... jokes on me now! because the grades now sef, na God dey hold am for me.

I can say that a lot of the money I've made from tech isn't from Frontend Engineering, I think the highest I've made from it is around a hundred and twenty thousand Nigerian Naira (NGN120,000), which is around $289.

But I've made waaay more than that from sharing technical articles around what I learn in the Frontend Engineering ecosystem. Yes, it is mostly about what I learn.

Got close to being paid $500 per piece for an article that I was to write for a Headless eCommerce platform, one time, but their API documentation wasn't easy for me to grasp, so I ended up being compensated for my time with half of the total price — that was early this year though.

I'm happy that there are platforms like Smashing Magazine, BirdLabs and Section that allow you write about your experiences as you learn. That's why most of my articles are somehow indepth and are about the things I learn from stuffs that I build.

I'm open to Frontend Engineering/Developer Advocate roles though. If you find any, kindly send them my way.

The money I made from technical writing kept me sane to some extent, I was able to use it to cover some expenses in the community and to fund my learning process.

If you've read through this section, and you think technical writing is something you'd want to dive into, you can checkout this guide that Dillion wrote all about

My Plan for the community when I became the lead was to make sure that word got out — and, yes, word did get out — that there's a student developer community somewhere in the wilderness, within the four walls of Kwara State University with actual students that are doing awesome stuff.

Yeah, I got tired of the usual hype that other schools get when it comes to "who produces talent the most" in the ecosystem, and we're nowhere to be found. lol

The first thing I suggested was having a blog, so we can at least increase our presence on the internet. I had to reach out to Sherrie, so she can manage the content we'd be shipping on our blog.

Along the line, I invited Aliyyah too, to manage content for the community, since they're both creative writers, and that's what we needed at that time — for word to get out.

We drafted a plan, that involved sending content (blog posts and newsletters), to get people involved in the community. The idea was to get our folks to have this sense of inclusion — that they do belong in the community.

We started a series of interviews with some members of the community which we'd share on our YouTube Channel soon.

We embarked on this quest as a means of motivating and inspiring folks in the community, as they'd hear students like them sharing their experiences of how they navigated their — and are still navigating — way in tech.

The idea and major aim were for us to build capacity, and I dare say, we're doing just that, everyday day, every week, every hour, and every minute!

By building capacity, we succeeded in hosting the largest tech event in the history of the campus, to the point that folks from the University of Ilorin came all the way from town into this bush — almost 35KM away — and it is even small, compared to what we'll be having next year.

All these wouldn't have been possible without everyone's input. I tapped into the Community as a Service (CaaS) model that Aniedi shared with us during the onboarding call, and it yielded positive results.

You can take a look at the highlights of our recent event below.

Drawbacks and how we're breaking the sound barrier.

Yeah, the sound barrier was kind of a big headache for Aerospace Engineers in the early days of aviation, when the need to go supersonic was paramount.

You'd see airplanes getting destroyed when they approach speeds close to Mach 1.0, and the sonic booms resulting from the variation of pressure around the surfaces of these bodies would cause a great shockwave that it'd end up destroying the air vehicles.

Okay, enough with the boring physics and Aerospace stuffs. Our sound barrier is the school's policies around communities like ours, and sometimes they can be quite annoying and frustrating at the same time.

But, we're learning and improving our ways of bypassing these barriers in a way that the sonic boom and shockwaves that come afterward would be disruptive (in a good way) and not destructive for us.

I mean, I know what we went through the last time we tried organizing an event — the TechFest — on campus, hell... we even tried liaising with the Student Union, we knew how that turned out Lmao! I was pissed! really pissed, actually.

But we moved on because the majority of the problems like these among students are a result of misplaced priorities and a shallow value system. That's why we're not relenting, and we're not stopping anytime soon.

And just like I said, It is just day one in this wilderness. My time may be up, but I'm not done yet!

Big ups to my team — Cyberphym, Mayowa, Sherrie, Mercy, Aliyyah, Timi ,Fathi, Theo, Funsho, Tayo, Judah, Clement, Felix, Ameedat, Faruq — It's been a hell of a ride with y'all!

I'll do my best to prepare everything for the next lead, because, yeah the journey wont be rosy! But we're here in this wilderness together. We pin!