A New Challenge — Here’s to a new beginning

I am currently on a one way flight to Hamburg, Germany where I will be continuing as an Android Engineer in Moovel.

This month is my last month as a Software Engineer in Seamfix Nigeria Limited and over the past five years, I have been privileged to work with one of the best minds in Tech here in Nigeria. It’s no wonder we were ranked as the top (indigenous) IT company to work for in the Jobberman 2018 rankings for Nigeria. I am filled with mixed emotions as I embark on my exit out of this reputable institution (Aside: Seamfix is hiring).

I will forever remain grateful to the Seamfix recruitment team, who took a chance on me and replied my poorly written internship application email. I had asked to be an intern at Seamfix around August 2013, soon after I graduated from the University.

I was given the opportunity to learn, fail, grow and put my Computer Science degree to the test in real life. Thank you Seamfix.

Finally, I was encouraged to provide constructive feedback on where I think Seamfix can improve on as company. I gave my feedback. It’d be interesting to see them implement these suggestions.

Thank you Seamfix.

Earlier this year, I decided that I’d want to try out new challenges and so I started to research on companies that work on products that I connected with. I used three main services: LinkedIn Jobs, Glassdoor and StackOverflow Jobs to conduct my search. I was particularly interested in companies that offered visa sponsorship as I had decided to work as an expatriate in Europe.

Nothing prepared me for the shock and realization that tech recruitment is flawed and could use a lot of work. The tech industry filled with smarts and brainiacs how did we allow a majority of tech firms to handle recruitment so poorly? My complete experience deserves a separate post but I’ll summarise my observations below:

  1. My applications were sometimes rejected with reasons that didn’t make much sense. They’d say “culture fit” other times they’d say they “have proceeded with candidates that matched their needs more closely” or something similar. It would have been understandable if I had applied blindly, but all my applications were to companies that I felt that I could contribute to; after all most of them listed the tools that candidates should expect to work with in their job listings. I think feedback to applicants should be useful so that they can know what went wrong and how to improve.
  2. Secondly, some technical exercises were a bit broad and I felt that if I were in the position test a candidate’s skills by giving them an app to build, anything involving multiple complex integrations and many difficult user interfaces would not be suitable. The technical interview, after the review of the submitted solution, will provide enough opportunity ask a wide variety of questions instead.
  3. There’s also the part of using algorithm tests alone to determine if a candidate is fit for a role. I am not against having software engineers with amazing algorithms skills on my team but personally I feel software engineering shouldn’t be narrowed to that alone. I know engineers who have aced algorithms tests but have little to no experience for the role and needed some training investment after they were hired.
  4. Finally, there was also the part of getting the work visa from Nigeria. I learned the hard way and I had to let recruiters know up front that getting a work visa from Nigeria takes a lot of time — sometimes even up to four months. I lost an opportunity after being unable to secure a visa appointment in time, the role needed to be filled urgently.

</rant>

There is much we can do to improve the generally recruitment process, especially when hiring technical professionals from Africa. I will not dwell on that topic in this post but I hope tech recruiters refine their processes so that it’s a win-win for everyone.

A New Beginning

Interviewing for my role at Moovel turned out to be quite straightforward. I got feedback in a timely manner. An offer was made after I progressed through a series of interviews with different interviewers.

I connected with the vision of Moovel: a planet without traffic Jams. This hit home because I live and work in Lagos, Nigeria and the traffic has been a major issue for commuters. Taking up the challenge by contributing to solving this problem excites me.

I have been an Android developer for the most part of my career. I have also had the opportunity to expand and try out new things. That is why I also have some experience in ios development using Swift, web development using Wicket for the front end and Spring for the backend.

I recently strolled warily out of my comfort zone by solving some computer vision problems using convolutional neural networks and writing a native library using C/C++ for the Android platform. I intend to keep the fire alive and embrace new challenges in this new chapter of my career.

Here’s to many more exciting years ahead. Happy new year 🍻.

Software developer. Learning everyday.

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Ben Daniel A.

Ben Daniel A.

Software developer. Learning everyday.

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