Under The Hoodie is a weekly series where we talk to people about their journey into tech. It focuses on the intersection between life and career. UTH Week 17.
Runo Saduwa is a 21-year-old software developer with Devi Health who recently completed his university education. On this edition of Under The Hoodie, Runo tells us about finding tech while in his second year of school and his journey to finding work.
Congratulations on you recent graduation!
Did you did something computer-related in school?
No. I studied petroleum engineering.
Oh. So, when did you decide to pursue a career in tech?
It happened when I was in my second year in school. Even as a young student, I was very curious about what life after school would look like. I wanted to graduate into a high-paying job and I noticed the oil economy was dwindling. Many of my older colleagues hadn’t gotten jobs. The best among them would go get masters degrees and travel out of the country. I wasn’t seeing them really doing well in the industry.
I didn’t want to get my self stuck in the industry under the guide of “passion for oil and gas”. So, I started looking at alternatives. In that process, one of my guys introduced my to coding — HTML, CSS, etc. Then, I found out about Andela and a couple of other tech companies. The people who worked there seemed to be doing well, although they weren’t well-known. I also learnt that I didn’t have to get a degree in Computer Science to practice. So, I decided to pick it up and see where it would lead to. So far, it has been working out well.
How did you start the learning process?
It started with following programmer accounts on Twitter. I remember one of my early follows was Prosper Otemuyiwa. I read a lot of his tweets and followed some of his other connections within the tech ecosystem. I tried to study them from afar to see what made the excellent people different from others.
I realised one of the things they did was to contribute to open source projects. So, I started to learn the technologies that could allow me make these contributions. I bought a number of courses—sometimes, it would be with my last money, but it was a sacrifice I was willing to make. I was just obsessed with being world-class.
Eventually, I started contributing to an open-source project called Joplin— it’s like an open-source version of Evernote. I contributed to the desktop version that was built with Electron JS. That time really exposed me to different ways of writing code and how to work with different people across the world.
Then I got into the GDG tech team in Warri which allowed me to give tech talks. I also taught little kids stuff about tech. I think all of that helped prepare me for a job.
So, how did you get your first job?
As a naturally curious person. I like to get as much information as I can on anything I commit to. I made up my mind to work in a remote role, so I did some research on the trending frameworks globally. It was there that I discovered that React was very popular with US-based companies.
I saw other frameworks like Anglular and Vue—and they were all wonderful, but React was in vogue at the time. Even until now, if you’re really good at building scalable applications with React, it’s unlikely that you’ll be unemployed for a long time.
I also registered at VanHack—almost everything they advertised then were React Jobs. Naturally, I got a ton of rejections, but eventually, one clicked and here we are.
How were you able to manage all these with school work?
To be honest, I didn’t. My school work suffered once I decided to pursue a career in tech. But it was a choice I made and decided to live with.
If I had focused on school, I probably would have graduated with one of the best grades. So, yeah, school suffered a lot.
A number of people think that people shouldn’t get into tech just because of the money. Do you disagree?
Well, I agree with them to an extent. Learning many things in tech require a ton of patience, and if you’re in it for the money, chances are you won’t be too patient.
I always tell people that tech is not a get-rich-quick scheme. There has to be some level of passion that will inspire patience.
So, what’s it like working remotely?
The company I work with allows me to set my own work schedule. So, I typically work between 2pm and 9pm. I prefer that time schedule because it lets me work alongside my teammates.
Also, I really love the team because everyone on there actually wants me to grow. They’re always willing to help with answers and resources whenever I have questions.
How do you explain what you do to people around you?
It’s hard. Even my parents don’t really understand what I do. They just know that I work from home and make money. Quite recently, someone close to me joked about me being a fraudster.
It’s one of the things that frustrates me about living in Nigeria. There's a lot of ignorance about what we do in tech.
What are your plans for the future?
I'd love to someday work for a FAANG company. That's my immediate goal. From there, we'll see where life leads.