Road To Andela
I knew not what I wanted to do with
my life two weeks after my
National Youth Service Corps(NYSC).
One of the days at NYSC camp.
Dad: Blessing you mean you don’t
have a CV?.
Sam: Blessing you suppose get CV naah,
come take my own take do your own.
I am a graduate of Electrical Electronics
Engineering and I met Reality
face-to-face after NYSC.
I realised I needed to be fully
responsible for my living and if
possible that of others.
The only thing I was sure of was
that I couldn’t spend my life cutting
off people’s electricity, that was
the kind of job I saw people with my
kind of certificate doing.
I just wasn’t into Electrical works.
I sought God’s face in prayers for what
I needed to do with my life.
One day as I mopped the verandah of
the house I heard clearly “Programming”,
I looked around it was just me,
I knew in my spirit that it was the
answer to my prayer, Yippeee!!!.
I asked a friend about programming,
and he said I had to move to Lagos
from Benin to learn it, he tried
to explain it to me but I just
didn’t get it.
I heard of a place I could learn
Java programming language in Benin
it cost around 100,000 Naira or more.
Dad: You mean after 5years in school
I should spend extra to train you
again when you have several siblings.
I actually felt irresponsible for
wanting to put anymore burden on my
parents, so I started searching for
I now had CV’s, for an engineer,
secretary, customer care representative,
oil company intern, e.t.c.
In my heart, I just had this desire
for a job that will pay me while
training me. I never heard of such
I was called for aptitude tests,
I passed some, failed one,
I almost agreed to a customer care
representative/sales person job.
The job interview that stopped my
search for a job, was the one PZ.
The selection process was no joke.
I got to the final stage I was
asked one question “Is this what
you want to really do?”
I couldn’t hold back the tears,
I needed a job and yet my answer
was “No” and I couldn’t get my
lips to say it.
You know what happened, I didn’t
get the job.
I knew at that point, I had to go
back home, go back home to Programming.
P.S My Dad loves his kids like crazy,
but reality and resources checkmates
I am out of choices, I have to trust
God if He truly said it, He will do it
After all that happened here:
I knew not what I wanted to do with my
life 2weeks after my National Youth
I was back in Benin after a fruitless
search for a job but not without some
new information. Ebele a dear sister
reached out to me that there was this
tech-related job that she believes
I will be good at, she sent me a link
It was the Andela first all-female boot camp.
I was too late the application ended
that day, I decided to prepare for
the next opportunity.
Andela was a real place that was going
to groom the next generation of tech
leaders and pay them while they were
still learning, Yippee!!!.
Me: Dad I really need to learn that
programming, I will get a job in 3
months if I do.
Dad: Okay, go pray that the money comes.
I found out I could pay partly
starting with 30,000 Naira, I told
my Dad about it. Later in the day…
Man: Sir, here is your share 30,000 Naira.
Me: Daddy, thats the money I prayed for.
Daddy: Yeah I know, you can have it.
I have never felt so much joy, gratitude,
passion and interest in learning.
I studied everything I was given to
study and beyond, I went the extra
mile in learning.
I had to combine it with real housework too.
I was supposed to pay 15,000 Naira
fortnightly, sometimes the money
didn’t come early.
I would be called aside/outside in
class to answer payment questions and
I couldn’t get an Oracle Java textbook
of my own till I completed payment
Some months later,
I got a ‘we are open for applications’
email from Andela, I applied.
I did the personality test and studied
with the resources I was given.
My parents got married, Yippeee!!!.
Yeah, I meant that literally.
I got so busy and tired after the wedding.
I decided to watch Flash that night
using up my laptop battery.
Before laying down to sleep that night,
I decided to pray and read some scriptures.
As I read my bible I felt a strong
urge to check my mail.
I dropped my bible picked up my phone.
There was a mail from Andela, I had
to do an Online Test, it was going
to time out by 11:59pm that night,
it was 10:00pm already,
I had no battery on my laptop,
no electricity, no fuel in the generator,
everyone was already in bed.
Dad: Who is that?
Me: Daddy please it’s me, it’s urgent.
Dad: Okay, what is it?
Me: I have an assessment tonight.
I was extremely nervous, we took a
torchlight and went to a neighbour’s
house to knock. He let us in, internet
was bad, really bad. My laptop’s touchpad
was misbehaving too, thank God all I
had to do was click on the answers.
My palms were sweating, the site was
doing all sorts too.
My Dad sat there, asking how it was
going, at a point I stopped responding,
he later slept off. My good neighbour
kept the generator running.
I clicked submit at 11:58pm.
I made it, I am going back to Lagos
After all that happened here:
I am out of choices, I have to
trust God if He truly said it,
He will do it
I passed the online test and
was called for a face-to-face
I knew I would pass the interview
and get into the Andela bootcamp.
I was that confident.
I did pass the interview and was
sent a mail to come for the 2
weeks bootcamp, Yippee!!!.
I got a new shoe from Yaba,
courtesy my cousin whose skirt
and shirt I was going to be
wearing from time to time for
the bootcamp. God bless her heart.
I was on my laptop, studying some
things in preparation for the bootcamp.
My laptop was a very unstable one,
Andela said they will provide one
for me plus lunch during the bootcamp.
I got a mail from Andela, I thought
it was about the laptop. Nay, it wasn’t.
I saw sorry, I saw wrongfully selected,
I saw no need to come.
I closed the mail, I opened it again.
I thought of what God said,
I thought of going back to Benin,
I thought of my new shoe, I thought
of my family, I thought of how much
I needed to pay at my school,
I thought of my passion.
I deleted the mail, I went to my
trash and deleted it from my trash.
I refused to receive such a mail,
as far as I was concerned the
mail was a lie.
(During this period I was studying
the book of Esther, it sure came in handy.)
I sent a message to the contact
person(Mr Ops), it read:
“I got a rejection mail, you know what,
forget about the free lunch and laptop.
I will be coming on Monday.
I am already in Lagos and I can’t go
back to Benin.” e.t.c
My Lagos sister walked in few minutes
later with a testimony, she just got
a car. I rejoiced with her like
nothing had happened.
Me: Sam, I have something to tell you.
I was told not to come for the bootcamp.
I am going, say nothing.
Me: This one thing I ask, be a Mordecai
for me, as I go like Esther went before
the king for her people.
Sam: No problem, take care, the Lord
go with thee.
Monday morning, my cousin dedicated
her life to dressing me up.
My Lagos Mummy and sisters were all
there to celebrate my first day.
I said nothing about the mail.
I kept smiling.
I got to the office, I saw the
security man he saw me.
He asked ‘Andela’, I said yes,
and he led me to an office filled
with other boot campers.
Instructor: Welcome, to Bootcamp Day 1,
introduce yourself and say something
Me: I am Blessing Ebowe, and I am stubborn.
Mr Ops: So you are the Blessing,
see me outside.
We are sorry for what happened,
apply for the next batch which
is for next month.
Me: No problem, I will apply but
I can’t just go back home like that.
Let me just be a part of the
boot camp even if I am not being
considered for employment.
Back in the boot campers space
Instructor: Some of you will
the others will be going to the
python class, if you hear your
name go to the python class.
Instructor: Yes, you Blessing right?
Go to python class.
I was new to programming, I just started
learning Java at my programming school,
I didn’t understand anything yet.
I didn’t even know there was
something called Python.
I got to the class they were all seated,
all-male, I was the only girl.
I felt they had a plan to just throw me
off the bootcamp and decided that putting
me there was going to be a way to scare
Strong head girl, I stayed,
I did my best, I came the next day and
every day, I wasn’t thrown out.
My laptop crashed, someone brought
a laptop for me it crashed,
IT team tried to fix me up a laptop,
there was none available.
I kept on purging from my nervousness.
Huge terms flew over my head.
At the end of week 1, I noticed that
That was when I realised Andela was
serious, they actually sent some
I felt they didn’t send me home
because I wasn’t even under consideration.
By the way, I ate the lunch I said
I didn’t want.
It got harder and tougher each day,
I barely slept or rested.
The young men in my class were
I told them I was a mirage companion.
Sometimes when I felt the stress
was too much, compounded by the
laptop issues and it wasn’t like
I was being considered for employment
they encouraged me to keep on.
We were given projects to do and told
to prepare for a presentation.
Two days to the presentation,
I was still battling with my laptop,
I walked to the bus stop with a lady
that evening, she asked
‘how far I had gone’,
I tried to explain why I had not
The conversation ended with me
feeling like a failure.
A day to the presentation…
Me: Python cohorts, I don’t think
I will be around tomorrow.
My presentation will mean nothing
and also I have nothing to present.
I have no idea how to create a
server, or what a django is.
Python cohorts: Blessing, you have
made it this far, everyday for 2 weeks.
Some men even dropped out, others
were sent home, you have stayed put
why not just finish it.
Here are some videos that could
help you in your project.
Later that evening…
Lagos Mum: How are you preparing for
You will get that job in Jesus Name.
Me: Hmmm, Amen ooh (She had no idea,
I wasn’t even actually part of the
Lagos Mum: This your Amen is not a
believing one at all, you don’t believe?
Me: (Smiling) I believe.
This was one tough night, if I
slept at all it would have been
for a maximum of two hours.
I fought the night, I fought my laptop,
I fought python.
I really had no idea what I was doing.
I went for the presentation late
that day as I was still contemplating
The application I built wasn’t
working or coming up.
I got there, took a seat at one end.
The presentation started at the other end.
I sat there watching what others did.
Later on I decided to do my own
instead of just watching others.
That was how I started,
asking my neighbours question,
‘how do you create a table in html’,
‘what do I use to run the server’,
‘what does this red message mean’.
Soon enough I had a webpage,
containing a table with single data
entry from the database, input boxes
and a button.
It was my turn to present,
I stood up with all the authority
and confidence in the world.
They had rejected me once,
I can’t be rejected twice.
So there was nothing to fear because
there was really nothing on the line.
Me: I built a contact application
to help you manage your contacts,
the plan is for you to be able to
view your contacts, add a contact,
edit a contact or delete it.
Instructor: Add a contact.
Me: The button is not working yet.
Instructor: Edit a contact.
Me: The button is not working yet.
Instructor: Let’s go to your code.
What is a csrf token?
Me: (Without even trying to think about it),
I don’t know, (I could see some folks
looking at me strangely).
Instructor: He faced the class and
explained it. You can go and sit down.
I presented, Yippeee!!!.
I couldn’t believe I had a page
The two weeks had finally come to an end.
I felt like I went for a military
training, it was tough, it was rigorous,
it was thorough, it tested everything
in you, it challenges you, it breaks
you and makes you.
They were going to send out appointment
letters to those that made it in a
I wasn’t expecting anything,
but I decided to take time out to
pray for wisdom to tell my family
About how I had fooled them for two weeks.
I sat at the table that early morning,
a call came in from one of my
Cohort: Blessing, check your mail,
you made it I can see your name.
Me: This is the thing, I am not a
boot camp member at all.
Maybe they forgot to remove my
name from the board.
I will still just check.
Right there in my mail,
I saw an appointment later.
I gave Mr Ops a 100 missed calls.
I didn’t celebrate or smile.
I sat by the phone waiting to
speak with him. He finally called.
Me: Good afternoon, sorry for
the plenty calls. I saw a mail.
I think its another error.
Mr Ops: What did it say?
Me: It said I got the job and
I should resume next week.
Mr Ops: It is exactly what it is,
you got the job. Congratulations,
welcome to Andela.
Me: But …………………………………..
Me: (Blessing you are fainting,
you should be happy and scream)
Yeahhhhhhhhhhhh, oops sorry thanks.
Mr Ops: Yeah, bye. See you on Monday.
I made it, finally the word God
spoke to me when He said programming
was now made manifest.
For the first few months, I kept
feeling they will come one day
and sack me.
It never happened its almost 3
I can start an application server,
I know my html tags and can build a
fully functional contacts management
application. Apparently it was about
how much progress I had made, and not
necessarily how much I already knew.
Thanks for reading, I hope this piece
changes your life.
P.S I made use of fake names,
also the conversations and mails
used here are basically a summary