Never Again: Landing In America V
Never Again: Landing in America V
About a month before I got the rejection
email from GS, I finally called a family
friend of mine, B, who also lived in Maryland
not too far from my school and whom
I had met once when she holidayed in Lagos.
Her parents were friends with mine and my
mum had been asking me to call her up
but laziness and procrastination made
me not to do so until sometime in March.
She came to pick me up from school,
bought me lunch, took me to Dave and
Buster's, and bought me a top.
On our way home, while we were talking,
I mentioned I had been trying to find a
job since my first semester without
much luck and she told me her elder
sister knew the manager of the
IT Division at one of my school’s
libraries and she’d speak with her
and get back to me.
She called me a few days later,
gave me the manager’s number who
asked me to come see him shortly after.
He asked me a bunch of questions when
I went to see him and offered me a job.
I couldn’t believe it.
I had sent application upon application,
walked the length and breadth of campus
only to get a job purely by referral.
I wished I had called up B months earlier
but such is life.
The job paid $10/hour – I worked 20 hours
per week and we were paid bi-weekly.
Less taxes, my net income was over
$600/month - which was more than
enough to pay my rent and leave me
with enough to live on.
For the first time since I arrived at school,
I stopped converting dollars to naira
in my head before making purchases.
I made a few friends at work and I
actually liked my job.
Some parts of it were menial but others
involved upgrading the OS of systems
and trouble-shooting device-related
issues for the Library staff.
The major project we did was to configure
new MAC desktops and replace all the
windows desktops with the new macs.
Though I didn’t get the internship,
I had a job I could work at during summer
for 40 hours/week but I wasn’t too keen
on it and I still kept looking for internships
wherever I could find them.
I saw an internship opportunity on my
school’s job portal sometime in May
and applied for it.
I knew the pay wouldn’t be great and
the job description wasn’t my preferred
choice but I did not want to work at the
Library all summer.
I applied for the role, interviewed for it
and a few days later, I was told I did not
But as luck would have it, their candidate
of choice turned down the offer and the
internship was offered to me seeing as I
was the second preferred candidate.
It was an application support/QA role
that only paid $13/hour but I accepted
I quit my job at ITD and asked my manager
to hold my spot for me as I planned to
return during the fall semester.
Little did I know God had better plans
My new job was at Columbia, MD which
was about 30 mins from my house via car
and about 2 hours by bus.
I couldn’t afford to uber daily and joined
a classmate of mine and some other
guys working in the area to get a rental
car and split its cost and the cost of gas
There were 5 of us and three of them
were Indians, the 4th was a Pakistani
and I was the 5th.
The first 2 weeks were pleasant enough
and to date, I don’t know what happened
but from the third week, the commute
became a hostile environment.
I would spare you most of the details but
on more than 2 occasions, they failed to
show up to pick me for work and offered
no apologies or reasons for their actions.
At some point, one of the guys who was
a year ahead of me and was a full-time
hire bought a car and we used his car
On my last day at my job, he literally
insulted me from my apartment until
he arrived at my office, and rudely
asked me to GTF out of his car.
That day, I had to call a friend of mine,
F, to pick me up from work.
Anyway, my job was supposed to be
a QA role where I was expected to find
issues with 2 applications created by
the company and report them to the
developers to have them fixed.
When the applications were fully functional,
I would then support the external
customers using them and resolve
whatever issues they might have.
I “played” with the application for the
first 2 weeks and reported whatever
defects I found but soon discovered
the applications were not ready to be
launched for external use and there
was going to be little or no work for
me to do most of the time.
When I accepted the job, I already decided
in my heart that I was going to work as
hard as possible
This made me curious about other functions
of the company and I found out that the
operating systems used by their servers
were going to reach end-of-life (they
would become obsolete and unsupported
I learned from the ever-dependable google
and youtube how to upgrade servers and
sought permission from my boss to upgrade
all the servers used at the company.
He agreed to let me do this save for
Why is this information important you
may ask? You will find out soon.
My parents paid my 2nd-semester tuition
and I was able to live on my job and
internship money but it wasn’t enough
to pay for my 3rd and 4th-semester
tuition and since I didn’t want to keep
burdening my parents, I continued to
search for Graduate Assistantships (GA)
(roles that pay for your tuition and give
you a stipend).
I applied for several GA positions with
no luck and even went as far as asking
a 2nd-year coursemate, who had a GA,
to recommend me to his boss upon
his graduation since I had heard that’s
what most people did but that fell through.
During my internship, I came across a GA
position on the campus job portal with
a job description that required the
applicant to have experience resolving
IT issues for staff, working with servers
and recording, and editing online classes.
Because of my on-campus job and
internship roles respectively, I was
capable of handling the first 2 requirements
and figured I could learn on the job for
the 3rd requirement.
I applied for the role, writing a strong
cover letter highlighting my past
accomplishments and the value I hoped
to add on the job and updated my
resume to highlight all the experiences
that matched the job description.
I was scheduled for an interview and
I prepared for it as best as I could.
I ran into one of my classmates while
waiting for my turn and he told me he
saw the Nigerian guy I didn’t click with
go in ahead of him.
Anyway, I went in for my interview,
turned on my sister-happiness and
extroverted personality, answered
the questions as best as I could,
and sent thank-you emails to the
two interviewers – I wasn’t sure I’d
get the role given the competition
but I was hopeful.
A few weeks after the interview, while
at work, I got a mail from the hiring
I was so afraid to open it, I had to go
outside in case it turned out to be a
rejection and I was going to cry.
I opened the email and saw that I had
been given a conditional offer that
would be confirmed or rescinded
based on letters provided by my
I literally couldn’t believe it.
I had my hand over my mouth for the
longest time in disbelief and tears of
joy streamed down my face.
I knew I was going to get the role
because I had references who knew
me well and would write strong letters
of recommendation on my behalf.
I asked my boss at the library, my professor
who was impressed by how radically
I turned my grade around, and my course
adviser who knew my grades to write the
A week later I was offered the job for
the next session.
The GA position came with full tuition
payment (about $10000 for 3 courses
per semester), a stipend of $20/hour
(a 20-hour workweek was equivalent
to a $1600/month gross-income), and
an office of my own whose key I kept
and could access at any time.
My boss at my internship role had been
asking me if I would continue working
with them through the fall semester
and I had told him I would get back
As soon as I got the GA offer I told him
I would not be returning in the fall.
You cannot imagine my happiness.
Only a handful of my classmates had
GA positions and I was one of the
I was going to go from $0/month income
to about $1240/month net income with
my own office where I could study alone
without any disturbance.
Of course, the first people I told were
my parents and siblings and they were
incredibly happy for me.
Now I could eat what I wanted, go
wherever I wanted without worrying
about money, or feeling guilty about
Never again would I fear opening my
mailbox and seeing bills I couldn’t pay.
Never again would I convert dollars
to naira in my head before making
And most importantly, at age 26 going
on 27, my greatest prayer had been
answered – I would no longer need
to depend on my parents or anyone
for money and I had finally achieved
I had arrived
To be continued…