After working as a civil engineer in his native Nigeria, Promise Morka moved to the U.S. in 2019. He wanted to learn a new skill that would allow him to “make the most impact in the shortest amount of time.”
While studying for his master’s in civil and structural engineering in the UK, Promise taught himself how to build websites. He decided to pursue his longstanding interest in software development. At first, he tried learning programming on his own using free online resources–YouTube videos, tutorials, Stack Overflow, you name it–but found his studies lacked structure. Most importantly, he didn’t know how to evaluate his own job readiness based on the skills he’d gained.
“It got to a point where I felt like I was on a loop,” says Promise. “I kept asking myself, ‘At what point will I be ready to start looking for a software engineering job?’”
When I moved to the US, I saw an opportunity for a clean slate, so I set myself a big task of learning something new. I was happy being a civil engineer; I just wanted something more and to experience life in a different way.
I was learning how to code on my own by watching videos and following tutorials on free platforms. I could continue learning indefinitely, but I didn’t know if I was ready to break into the industry.
I researched a lot of different bootcamps, but Springboard was one of the few programs that tied their success to my success. I believed I could learn a lot by joining Springboard.
Engineers solve problems by breaking them down into smaller pieces. Being a civil engineer taught me that. I also had the experience of working on a team with other engineers.
I’ve been pulled into some big projects. I’m learning how to use C#, which is our primary programming language. I already have a programming brain, but now I must learn a new language. AECOM is a very fun place to be. I like the organization, the work, and my team. My boss is amazing. She plans everything out and the projects run so smoothly.
I use ChatGPT as a replacement for Stack Overflow whenever I have questions because I can get the answers faster. I’m trying not to be too dependent on it. It answers my questions, provides code explanations, and helps me debug code. AI doesn’t always give you the correct answers, but it gives you options. That saves a lot of time.
First, they should accept that AI is here to stay, and that it will only continue to improve. Secondly, I would advise them not be too dependent on it. Don't let it think for you all the time. Use it when you have blockers or need to clarify something.
I have a young family. I was caring for my kids and working at Amazon as a warehouse associate, in addition to other odd jobs. I love that Springboard gives you time to rest. Also, the course is self-paced so you can relax and take breaks whenever you need to. I tried not to be too hard on myself when I didn’t understand something. My coaches, teaching assistants, and mentors were incredible.
My mentor was amazing. I’ve never had any kind of mentor before in my life. He was willing to answer any question. He helped me understand the big picture. Anytime I encountered obstacles I would speak to him and he was there for me, encouraging me throughout the course. I emailed him six months later when I landed a job because I couldn’t thank him enough.
Focus on the big picture and the functionality. Take your time to think about what you want to code. Think about the solution first. He had a special way of explaining things in simple English.
If you end up with a mentor you don’t really empathize with or you have a strained relationship with them, my advice is to change your mentor. Ask them to help you understand the bigger picture. They are vastly experienced, so they know how to help you manage your learning process.
I sent a lot of applications. It was very difficult for me. I spoke with my career coach often. My first job was an internship at a startup where the pay was very low. But when I interviewed for my current job, I was asked if I had experience working on a team and I was able to leverage that.
Even if your first job offer isn’t what you were expecting, it’s so important to get your foot in the door. Even if the pay is not great, that experience will be important when you interview for your next major role.
For me, it would be the kind of individual I became through the process. Programming has improved my character. I’m more patient now. I read instructions careully. I see life very differently.
I do. All my life I’ve been learning. Even after completing the bootcamp, I’m learning C#. Software changes so rapidly. You may need to upskill as soon as you join an organization, so you must be a lifelong learner. You have to train yourself to have that mindset, even if you weren’t born that way.