Every year I derive a theme from a promise note I receive in church, and 2020 was no different. Below is my theme for the year:
Sow thou with loving care, With steadfast faith, and tears: Sow on in patient hope, with prayer. Sow till the Lord appears.
Back in January, no one knew what a roller-coaster year it would be. We had finally crossed to a new decade, which I saw was an opportunity for new beginnings. However, once the celebration was over, my biggest issue presented itself. I needed to secure an academic attachment by February or risk not graduating. Plenty of rejections later, I decided to settle. So how did my year pan out?
Of Sowing in Mentorship
Applying to various job opportunities and receiving countless rejections, proved that there might be something essential I lack in. The first step, I decided to pursue mentorship.
On January 17, I received one of the most amazing news, after being on the waiting list in 2019, I was accepted to KamiLimu. KamiLimu is a free 8-month structured mentorship program for university students aimed at bridging the gap between classroom learning and global competitiveness. A KamiLimu student is not an ordinary student and you can read more about the program at https://www.kamilimu.org/
KamiLimu provided me with all-round mentorship as a student as well as a platform to collaborate with other Data Scientists. I, therefore, needed additional mentorship in design. Going ahead, I applied to two programs: She Code Africa and For Creatives Girls, all of which I received rejection emails.
Not deterred, I reapplied again to She Code Africa and received the Good News that I was accepted to the program.
In each mentorship program, I have been able to work on projects, improve my inter-personal skills and shared my knowledge with others. More on my projects below.
Of Sowing in Tech-Communities
One of the greatest ways to thrive in tech is being part of communities. In 2020, I have been part of two: Microsoft Learn Student Ambassadors, formerly Microsoft Student Partners, and Andela Learning Community.
Microsoft Learn Student Ambassador
I joined the program in September 2019 and have since been actively engaged in the community. Here are my 2020 highlights:
- Rejected to attend annual EMEA regional summit at Amsterdam.
Appointed AI and Data Science Lead in Kenya for a quarter:
- Hosted 6 events, introducing learners to Data Science and a fireside chat
- Created a resource: https://gist.github.com/2fb4b275dcd15888f5d6b31e1bbc549d to help assist community members as they start their journey in Data Science
- Got certified: Azure Fundamentals
- Hosted 7 other events and co-hosted more on Power Platform, Web Development Series, and one more fireside chat with Scott Hanselman.
- Became co-lead at Microsoft Learn Student Ambassador community, Kenya.
- Spoke to MLSA Nigeria team on balancing school and tech
- Became a Gold Student Ambassador, the first female in Africa.
- Spearheaded organizing the first Microsoft Student Summit Africa 2020, which received a total of 3,000+ RSVPs. My main role was leading the team, designing the conference, moderating sessions, and preparing the speakers. I also got a chance to speak about DevOps on Azure.
- Participated in Seasons of Serverless where I get to create a code challenge for the community, get the challenge at https://github.com/microsoft/Seasons-of-Serverless/blob/main/Jan-4-2021.md.
- Currently, leading a team in creating a mentorship application.
Andela Learning Community
Every year, Andela partners with companies such as Facebook, Google, and Microsoft to skill-up thousands of Africans each year. In 2019, I got a chance to participate as a learner in Google Africa Developer Scholarship (GADS) and as a mentor in DevCwithAndela training. 2020 was a unique year where I got a chance to participate as both a mentor and program assistant in GADS.
One of my highlights includes holding the first-ever GADS conference which received about 6,000 RSVPs and being feature amongst the top mentors.
One failure though I must add was I participated in Build for SDG cohort 1 and was unable to complete the challenge 😖.
Of Sowing in Code
If you have ever been to a technical code interview, and know absolutely nothing about the code that is in front of you, then I can say we share the same experience. Being a Data Scientist and applying for a software engineering role is not the best way to go about landing a job, but I did and got rejected 😭.
Putting on my big girl pants, I decided to try the #100DaysOfCode challenge. I quit at day 40 and totally quit coding for a few months afterward because I had no idea where I was headed. Fast forward to August 2020, where one of the tasks in KamiLimu I needed to do a Data Science project. Although I missed the deadline, I can proudly say I completed my Data Science Project and subsequently joined a coding school to improve my Data Science skills (currently finalizing on my final project).
Of Sowing in Design
One of my ambitions, when 2020 started, was to transition to UI/UX design and I first wanted to challenge myself with Daily UI's 100 days of design. My ambitions were thwarted when my designs came out with little User Experience and I, therefore, had to rethink my approach.
In April 2020, I was invited to work on a project with my friend as a UI designer. This renewed my enthusiasm and I was able to reaffirm my goals. Fast forward to June, I participated in HNGi7 and although I did not manage to be a finalist, I realized the need to have a designer review my designs. I went ahead and reached out to Kelvin Kamau, who has been reviewing my designs ever since.
Of Sowing in Personal Hobbies
I can say coding and design are my hobbies as I am a business major, but Nah. 2020 I rediscovered the art of productivity, decided to learn how to draw, and explore Spanish.
2020 I also read a couple of books, some of those that I managed to complete include: Make Time, So good they can't ignore you, Bad Blood, Richard Odeng' and The defining decade. I am hoping to read 12 more books in 2021, and review them all.
Although am yet to rediscover my theme for the year, I created a couple goals to help me:
- Contribute to the tech-community through Open Source (applying as an MLH fellow and Outreachy) and creating online content both in form of blogs and carousels
- Currently I have landed UI/UX deals in 2 startups and couldn't be happier
- I have my first UI Design interview and couldn't be prouder
- Complete my degree! (get a first class if possible)
- Read more books (+12) and learn how to play the guitar
- Get more Microsoft Certifications
- Write daily (on weekdays) 100 word-articles on #TodayILearnt
Making out of 2020 could not have been easier without some amazing idividuals:
Dr. Chao, Mercy Mugii (my KamiLimu Mentor), Elena Mwangi, Bernice Ng'ethe and the entire KamiLimu family.
Joshua Ndemenge, Alex Ruheni, Julia Muiruri, Eric Wanjau, Felix Omuok, Olumide Ogundare and the entire MLSA Fam.
Mercy Cheruto, Joshua Mabina, Joy Efijoh, Sam Esidem, Chris Barsolai, and the GADS Andela PA team.
Kelvin Kamau, Glorious Vuyanzi and Sophisticated dev: my design heroes
Of course: Yobbie Mkenya and David Wachira