Elijah the superhero: Chef by day, Software Engineer by night!
There is nothing that somebody can not learn as long as you know how to read and write and have the right growth mindset. I am proof that you can excel in unorthodox career shifts hence just do it!
My name is Abraham Elijah and I am currently an ALX software engineering program learner in cohort 9. I am also a chef and I currently work at the Zuma Grill Restaurant at Transcorp Hilton Hotel Abuja.
I got into the ALX SE program in August 2022 following my desire to switch careers and pursue my original passion for computing and creativity. My passion for tech was borne from watching my dad run a computer skills training center where I got substantial exposure to interact and play with computers. Due to circumstances and based on how things are rough in Africa, I found myself in the kitchen as a chef where I have equally been doing very well. I love my job as a chef but in my soul, I always still harbored the dreams of pursuing a career in IT to fulfill my true purpose.
I had initially enrolled at a University in Germany but the school fee was very high hence when I saw the ALX opportunity, I did not think twice about enrolling into the program. I have really loved the ALX SE program so far because the curriculum is well structured with great details that has made it very easy for me as a beginner to understand the concepts.
I have a nine to five job as a chef at a busy international hotel hence the structure in the program has really helped me in planning out my time. It has not been easy balancing with for example working on tough projects such as airbnb clone that require lots of attention to detail. I know many people are curious about how it was possible for me to make the unorthodox switch from food science to software engineering.
Cooking and coding have more similarities than differences between the two forms of art and the bare minimum is that they share the same prefix “co”. My aspiration of being chef and software engineer was actually validated when I found out that one of the very senior software engineers Guillaume Salva that helped Julien set up Holberton is a chef too! For example, for you to make a particular dish, you must sit down and plan, write out a recipe and create meal plans.
In terms of coding, you have to sit down and do some whiteboarding, write pseudocode with step by step processes on how to solve it before you start writing the actual code. Both processes take the same approach of always trying to break the task at hand into smaller steps, have everything in place before you embark on the task. However, it has not been easy being chef by day and software engineer by night.
At the restaurant, we spend the morning hours planning out our work and preparing meal plans and menus. The restaurant opens up operations at 3pm daily and we close at 11pm in the night. It is a very stressful, high pressure environment whipping up dishes as quickly as possible while not compromising on the quality to keep our client base happy. My specialty is Italian dishes, hence I can prepare all types of Italian cuisine incorporating lots of steak and a bit of French dishes as well. I usually get home at around 1am, I quickly freshen up and get back to my notes to freshen my memory on the resources and concepts so that I can know where I am and where to go next.
I have had to make trade-offs where I study all night, sleep at around 5-6am in the morning for 3-4 hours and then I get up, make something to eat, prepare and leave for work. I am very steadfast and committed to my goal of becoming a software engineer having seen the numerous opportunities and flexibility it brings. I have had to pause on activities such as hanging out with friends, visiting family and in fact for the last four months I have not visited with anyone because I am so occupied and busy with cooking and coding. Whenever I get any free time, all I do is rest and sleep. I am very determined not to squander this chance hence I am prepared to do all it takes to not just complete the 12 months, but to come out ready for the job market.
I am currently entering the final sprint 3 of my ALX SE training and I am keen on being a backend software engineer. I love to design and make things work in a certain desired way. Frontend is mostly about end user interfaces where backend is where the whole logic is and this allows me to bend things and design unique projects that work in a way that I envision. For example, at the moment, I realized that at my workplace, we do not have a platform that can help us manage logistics around bookings from customers for a table, a particular dish or make reservations for special occasions such as birthdays. I am hence using django to build a web app which is basically a reservation system for hotels. It is called Bucr and my plan is to build it out into a startup having a model that I would say is the Airbnb for restaurant bookings in Africa.
To all learners of the ALX SE program, I know that the journey is not easy because I remember how C pointers, printf and shell projects gave me hell but the best thing is to keep pushing. Aunty Betty is also not easy with the checkers but Betty has helped me appreciate the art of running beautiful and neat code and not just striving for functionality only. Reflect on your goal and your why for joining the program and let that propel you. You may have to make uncomfortable and drastic changes and sacrifices but all in all, keep your eyes steadfast on the goal. There is nothing that somebody can not learn as long as you know how to read and write and have the right growth mindset.
You do not need to have a background in tech to make it and I am proof that you can learn anything if you set your mind to it. As long as you are willing to put in the work and rise above the challenges, it is possible to become anything you want. The future of the world is tech and the future of tech is Africa. It is impressive to see more and more young Africans getting into tech and creating change at the global stage. I hope that my journey can be an inspiration for you that you can also do it.
To stay connected with Abraham, reach him on Twitter, LinkedIn and Github. You can also find him at Zuma Grill Restaurant at Transcorp Hilton Abuja everyday from 4pm to 10:30pm WAT and have a taste of his dishes!
Join us on this twitter space next week Tuesday 6th June at 4pm GMT, 5pm WAT, 7pm EAT to hear more about Elijah’s amazing story of unorthodox career transitions.
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