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Codesmith International Scholarship Spotlight - Meet Ruqayaah

In 2022, Codesmith had software engineering immersive residents from 19 countries! To support our growing international community, we were thrilled to launch the Codesmith International Scholarship in 2022. 

By providing a scholarship award to an outstanding individual who is not a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, the International Scholarship aims to support high-achieving applicants from countries where access to advanced tech education has traditionally been limited.

Read on to meet Codesmith’s first International Scholar, Ruqayaah, and hear about her path to Codesmith! Learn about her background as a junior developer in Nigeria, why she attended Codesmith’s Software Engineering Immersive, and how she manages the time difference.


When I first told some close colleagues of mine about my ambition to enter Codesmith, I was told that it was a pipe dream. It wasn’t meant for people like me - halfway around the world, unaffordable, and certainly not ‘needed’ by a person like myself to have a successful software engineering career. They believed I had all it would take already: a profound desire for self-development, great problem-solving skills, curiosity, the ability to learn very fast, and professional experience as a software developer. However, I knew that was not all I needed to become a global contributor to the tech industry. As I’m writing this halfway through the program, I am confident that I made the right decision. Let me tell you how.Photo of Ruqayaah

Shortcomings

In the period I worked as a software developer in Nigeria, I learned about vital traits exhibited by senior software engineers, tech leads, and engineering managers from watching and interacting with them. They had technical knowledge and communication of advanced concepts, excellent problem-solving skills, analytical thinking, resourcefulness, and were great mentors. 

Before Codesmith, my strength was technical knowledge and mentoring, but I felt like I fell short in the knowledge and communication of complex concepts, debugging, and problem-solving. Also, I had only taught/mentored absolute starters and people with less experience on a very small scale, and had only written very few technical write-ups, all of which I wanted to do more. 

As a junior developer at my company, I felt that I wasn’t growing at the rate I had the potential to because I wasn’t getting enough opportunities to develop the skills I thought were truly valuable to my career projection. I felt that getting better at data structures and algorithms, navigating complex technical problems, mentoring and teaching budding software engineers, publishing technical write-ups, and actively contributing to the developer community through Open Source Projects were things I’d rather do to promote my growth as a software engineer. 

Getting Into Codesmith

In the time I prepared for Codesmith, I decided to host mock interviews to share my knowledge. I wanted to interact with the community and contribute to the growth of aspiring software engineers. I watched my technical communication improve two-fold as I mentored people and hosted learning sessions. For the first time in my career, I was exploring what I enjoyed doing the most - sharing knowledge and contributing to the growth of others. Photo of Ruqayaah drawing diagrams on an iPad.

I ultimately chose to advance my career at Codesmith for two distinct reasons: community and curriculum. With my technical background, I could easily gauge the quality of the curriculum by looking at what I still lacked given my experience. It was going to be a rigorous academic pursuit. However, the quality of instructors from workshops I had attended, and the enthusiastic contribution to and development of the developer community via Open Source Projects drew me in. More reassuring for me was the presence of a community of budding, experienced, and resilient software engineers that prioritize growth and engineering best practices while looking out for one another's career best interests.

How the Pipe Dream is Going

In the first month of the program, we were introduced to a myriad of topics. These ranged from front-end and back-end technologies, computer science concepts like time complexity, data structures, and algorithms, and Javascript concepts like IIFEs, closures, and prototypal inheritance in OOP, to mention a few. It amazed me that I had used many of these concepts without knowing how to explain them or knowing they were concepts with actual names. 

For every unit, we had pair programming partners where each partner switched between “navigator” and “driver” roles. The navigator would read and think through the problems and communicate their thought process to the driver. The driver would then code based on the instructions of the navigator and technically communicate questions as needed. This challenged the technical knowledge and communication skills of both the driver and navigator. The process of debugging and being empathetic with one another when blocks are hit, as well as the research for engineering best practices, have been the best parts of my experience so far. 

After four weeks of pair programming, we launched into the project phase where we did three projects in two weeks: the solo, scratch, and iteration projects, with the last two done with teams. Building my solo project, BookIt, with typescript was a great achievement for me because we had less than 3 days and I had no hands-on experience with it prior. 

The scratch and iteration projects I did in a team reflected my past industry experience, setting the program apart from being just a bootcamp. After the upcoming junior grad assessment, I will be moving on to the senior portion of the program where we focus on more complex topics and build/contribute to Open Source Products. With collaborative coding and code reviews as the forte in the junior portion, I have grown comfortable with communicating complex technical ideas, debugging, adopting engineering best practices, and working with others efficiently and effectively. All of these experiences culminated to meet my goal of advancing my career exponentially.

The Challenges

The greatest challenge has been the difference in timezone. Knowing what lengths I would go to grow and be an inspiration to fellow cohort mates is empowering and refreshing. However, there were times I wished I got more sleep to avoid lethargy and be more coherent. My life’s philosophy has always been a quote from a popular scholar that says, “The lesson lies in the perfection of the conclusion of a thing, not in the shortcomings of the beginning of it."

As the program progresses to the senior portion, I am excited for the growth ahead, as well as the opportunity to spend more time with fellow cohort mates and incoming juniors.

Blog written by Ruqayaah S. during her time in Codesmith's Central-Time Remote Immersive Cohort 12. Ruqayaah is currently a Codesmith Engineering Fellow.