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From Deferral to Learner Ambassador: The inspiring story of Princewill Elebhose
When Prince deferred twice from the #ALX_SE program, he did not know that this slowing down will help him land the role of a Learner Ambassador. So do you still think deferring is a sign of failure?
Tell us a little about yourself.
I am Princewill Elebhose, and I have a strong passion for technology. I am currently based in Nigeria. I embarked on my journey into web development in 2020, self-learning through various online resources. In 2021, I discovered ALX through an Instagram post. After extensive research, I applied for an open data analyst role that was available. At that time, in early 2022, I had already enrolled in a program where I learned Python, but unfortunately, my application was not successful. Later that year, around November, I stumbled upon the ALX software engineering program. I applied and was accepted into cohort 12. My journey towards becoming a software engineer has been challenging, with two deferrals. Currently, I am in cohort 18. However, my primary focus in the program is to gain a deep understanding of the concepts and strive to become the best software engineer, regardless of how long the journey may take.
Despite having to defer twice, you still got an opportunity to become a learning ambassador in the program. What is the backstory of how you got the opportunity?
After completing my printf project, I received an email from ALX. I always read ALX emails attentively because they hold special significance for me. Upon reading that particular email, I was pleasantly surprised, as I had not expected it. It was exciting that ALX had honored me with the opportunity to become a learning ambassador, and I felt well-prepared to take on the role. I naturally enjoy supporting my peers because I have been in their shoes and understand the frustration of trying to grasp complex concepts alone. I vividly remember how challenging it was when I attempted the printf project for the first time, not knowing where to turn for guidance. Therefore, I was eager to assist as many fellow learners as possible. I completed all the preliminary processes and then teamed up with my partner, Olalekan Ahmed, to provide the best support possible to our fellow learners. Our role involves breaking down the project by explaining its nature and what is expected of the learners to help them get started. We also assist them through the debugging process, but we do not provide direct answers or write code for them. The beauty of explaining concepts to others is that it helps solidify your own understanding; in teaching, you learn, and in learning, you become a better teacher.
You took a break from the program, came back, and got appointed as a learning ambassador; therefore, deferring is not a sign of failure. What advice would you give to your peers about why taking a break is not something to fear?
I recall when I first considered deferring; I consulted with my peers on LinkedIn and Twitter, and the majority discouraged me, suggesting I should persevere. However, I know myself, and I acknowledge that I am a deliberate learner. At that point, I realized I needed more time to truly grasp the concepts. It's essential to understand the path you are on and decide whether you are pursuing it for yourself or based on others' opinions. When everything seems to be moving too fast, and you struggle to keep up with the pace or feel like you are drowning, that's clear evidence that it's time to take a break. Ultimately, what matters most is that after you graduate, you can confidently apply your knowledge and work effectively within a team or a company. View deferring not as a failure, but as an acknowledgment of your learning pace. At ALX, time is your ally, offering you the opportunity to make the best use of it.
Tell us a little more about your role as a learning ambassador. What does a typical day look like now that you have to balance it with your coursework?
I follow a strict schedule that I outline on sticky notes on my whiteboard to help me manage all my important priorities efficiently. The first thing in the morning is to check my intranet and understand the tasks for the day. Then, I go through Slack to see if anyone has raised any issues needing urgent assistance, and I promptly respond to them. Afterward, I start tackling my intranet tasks. I am careful to take breaks, and it is during these breaks that I provide additional support to peers on Slack. I also set aside time to catch up with chats from members of my cohort. Having a schedule helps me stay on top of all my important priorities.
We already know that printf was your favorite project, but what has been your most challenging project and how did you overcome it?
The Shell project was the most challenging one for me and led to my decision to defer. The challenge for me was not how to begin but understanding concepts like environment and exits and how they work individually as well as how they come together. I was really struggling to understand how the entire shell process had been designed, along with the flow of information. As I mentioned earlier, my goal is not just to graduate but to become a software engineer. That's why I am willing to take as many breaks as required to fully understand the concepts. During my deferral, I embarked on a period of deep research to comprehend the different aspects of the shell and how they function individually and collectively. I am still on my deferment holiday, but I am now confident in my ability to return and tackle the shell project.
You did exceptionally well in the printf project, earning you a role as a learning ambassador. What advice do you have for anyone preparing to take the project?
For printf, first, understand the roles of formats and format specifiers and how they function individually and together. Think of it as building a house, with the goal of providing shelter. Printf, in its essence, is like a hall without any rooms or divisions, similar to having a printf function without format specifiers. You must grasp how to construct an empty printf function without the format specifiers before delving into the roles and how they handle input. Then, progress to understanding how the function processes that input, such as how it handles an integer and produces a string output. Printf is a variadic function that, even though it takes in an integer, processes it to produce a string. When you seek to deeply understand and grasp these different aspects, the concepts become easier to comprehend. Once you have a firm grasp of the concepts, start thinking about how to implement them in code, and it will all come together.
What gives you hope for the African continent?
The African youth gives me the greatest hope for Africa because we have recognized the power of our minds. Africa is currently blessed with many brilliant young minds who have realized that we can leverage our intelligence, ingenuity, and innovation to restore Africa to its full glory. Programs like ALX serve as catalysts for nurturing these young minds, equipping us with global-standard knowledge and skills to maintain the steady pace of change and development in Africa. I encourage everyone, especially young Africans, not to lose focus as we keep our eyes on the prize: the Africa we envision in the next ten years. We are emerging from a challenging era, which is why we owe it to Africa to serve positively.
To stay in touch with Princewill Elebhose, contact him on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Github.Also do not forget to join in this upcoming twitter space on 19th September to hear the backstory of how he came back from deferral to land a role as a Learning Ambassador.
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