We are big believers in diversity and inclusion here at Northcoders; we think that everyone should be able to pursue a creative, rewarding and fulfilling career no matter what their background. That’s why we offer a fully funded Community Scholarship, as a chance for individuals who have experienced severe personal adversity and or financial barriers to pursue their passion and get the career they deserve.
On Cohort 7 our Community Scholarship was awarded to Aaron Omotosho. We sat down with Aaron to chat about his time at Northcoders.
Hey Aaron, now that you’re in your final stretch of Northcoders how have you enjoyed your time here?
It’s honestly been one of the greatest experiences ever, and I say that not just like as a cliched thing, it was something that was totally unexpected, every preconception and expectation I had has been surpassed. I think I’ve learned a lot more than I ever thought I would, not just about coding but about people in general.
People in general?
Yeah, I never imagined working with people in the way we have at Northcoders, namely pair programming. I guess I’ve always done everything I do on my own. It’s been really hard to rely on someone else to do something. Especially in this final stretch, there's four of us on a team having to rely on three other people to pull equal weight to present our final product. This wouldn’t have been something I’d be able to do without going through the course. It’s been really nice getting used to that system of working.
So, you’re in project phase now, how is that going?
It's going really well; we’re working on a Northcoders companion app. During the ideas phase, I really struggled to come up with anything. This was my one idea; I was really surprised it ended up being what we went with because I couldn’t really think of anything besides the one thing I wish I had. During my time over the course, I tried really hard to make notes and keep on top of everything, but you always miss things here and there - I just wished I had a place where everything was together. So I just explained this to everyone in my group, and the app was born, and because it’s something that connects with us all, it flowed really naturally.
Tell us about you. What made you want to become a developer?
I can’t say there’s one exact thing. It came from a series of things that lead up to me making that decision. I guess the first thing was moving over. My family and I moved to England about five or six years ago, and before that, we lived in Nigeria with very limited access to computers and internet and stuff. Being a developer wasn’t really an achievable idea for me, it wasn’t an avenue I could go down, so when we moved to England, I noticed this entire industry; this whole sphere of people doing things that I found myself immediately interested in. It was mind blowing from there onwards, and I really wanted to see how deep the rabbit hole would take me. So I started teaching myself little bits of programming languages, started exploring different programming techniques and attending events like Hack Manchester and this all fed into the decision to become a developer.
You mentioned Hack Manchester; I heard you were talent spotted there?
I guess that’s what you could call it [laughs]. I’ve attended a few of the events before, but the major one I went to was HackJr in 2016. It was actually the last junior one I was allowed to attend. I went with some friends, and we were just determined to go there to make something, have fun and just go wild. The Co-op challenge [Let's tackle loneliness], really stuck with me because it had affected some people I know, it just seemed like a really fun idea to explore, so I dragged my team into that challenge.
We spent all night awake trying to cobble things together, leading to us winning that year and this where the “talent spotting” came in [laughs]. The people from the Co-op came over to our team and congratulated us for winning. I guess they just really liked the way I worked and how I went about things because they offered me an apprenticeship, which I’ve been doing this year including leading me to join Northcoders.
Congratulations on being awarded the community scholarship, How did that come about?
As a part of my apprenticeship, my employers recommended me to look into the Northcoders course. It was a really, really, valuable opportunity that I couldn’t pass up, so I spoke to my employers, and they offered me the opportunity to do the course. Then I met with James and Harriet, who then offered me the scholarship. The cost issue was what lead to me taking them up on it because I was dead set on going to university earlier this year. Unfortunately, because I’m an international student, the university’s I got places at were way too expensive, and I wouldn’t have been able to afford a four-year course. So, I thought that the apprenticeship with the co-op was the next best thing, but it turns out it was the best option because it’s just been fantastic and has lead to even more exciting opportunities. It’s been lovely.
So, you run a charity called Console Code. What does the charity do?
Yeah, I do! It’s an organisation for young people like myself that have limited access to computers and aren’t pushed to be a developer or go into the digital industry. It’s just a chance for them to explore what it means to be part of the tech industry, explore computational ideas and create small things like scratch games that could lead someone to start exploring a new avenue and become something big. I thought most of the kids in my community, often see the digital industry the way I used to; as something that was out of reach and something that we can’t achieve because of our backgrounds. I started the organisation about a year ago, and we’ve had some lovely events with really positive outcomes. People have been reacting so positively to it that it’s still going on.
Wow, that’s amazing, it must feel so rewarding?
Thank you! I guess it is, but I just never think of it in that sense, because it should be available to people anyway. I don’t see it as an extra thing because it should be something people can do, but I’m glad it’s happening now, and I hope it continues to happen even if I’m not involved. It’s so disheartening to know that people are in the position that I was in, where they see the entire sector as something that is far out of reach. Everyone should be on a level playing field; I believe it should be fundamental.
Thanks for chatting with me Aaron good luck with the rest of project phase!
Thank you very much, appreciate it.