AltSchooler Diaries: My Experience Learning Cloud Engineering at AltSchool Africa from Uganda – Samantha Gloria

Let’s meet Samantha Gloria, an incredible alumna from Uganda who finished as a Cloud Engineering student at AltSchool Africa. In this interview, we’ll learn about her time at AltSchool Africa, juggling work in tech and being a student, and how it helped her grow personally and professionally. 

Tabitha: Tell us about yourself, Samantha

Samantha: My name is Samantha. I come from Uganda. I was among the first applicants in the first cohort for the Cloud Engineering Diploma track at the School of Engineering. Before joining AltSchool, I worked as a Systems Analyst at Azuri Tech. Currently, I am a DevOps engineer at AirQo, Uganda.

Tabitha: What made you choose AltSchool Africa?

Samantha: At the end of 2021, I had been researching Cloud Engineering. None of the schools in Uganda offered it on its own as a Diploma course. I came across AltSchool Africa on X (formerly Twitter). A gentleman called Stone Atwine, CEO Eversend was offering scholarships at AltSchool Africa, and Cloud Engineering was listed. I reached out to him. He sent me a link to apply. I applied, paid my application fee, and got in. I needed structure, which AltSchool provided. I did the assessment test and got accepted.

Tabitha: Did you get what you hoped for, in terms of structure? How was it? How were you able to cope while learning and working?

Samantha: At first, it was challenging because of the time difference. Nigeria is 2 hours ahead, and balancing work added to the complexity. However, during my first semester, I joined a study group where members stayed up late. It would be 1 AM my time, 11:00 AM WAT and there would always be someone up helping me out. I figured, if there was someone who was out there willing to spare that time to help me out even when it was this late, I could actually put in the work. This encouraged me not to slack off. I strategically allocated time between work and studying, ensuring at least one to one and a hour daily for focused study, along with additional time for reaching out to others for discussions and assistance.

Tabitha: I like the fact that you also talked about always having people get to help you. And I’m curious. How easy was it for you to blend in and make things work with other guys?

Samantha: I think it was quite easy because first and foremost, there are a lot of people who are willing to help. That’s one thing I noticed. There were people who I reached out to, and everyone was ready to help. And it wasn’t just my circle members, by the way. It was people that I would see constantly interacting on Slack who are involved and people who post a lot on Slack. And one thing I noticed is the culture, I think. Nigerians are very aggressive, ambitious people, and they won’t let you slack or anything. So if you say it’s 11, someone will be like, ‘We had an arrangement at 11. I’m hoping you’re going to make it.” People are willing to give their time and again and again. And it helped me a lot. A lot of them are still my friends up to now.

Tabitha: So how was it, learning Cloud [Engineering]? And is it something you’ve always wanted to do even if you went through challenges, you still kept on it. Were there times you felt like giving up?

Samantha: It was a lot. There’s a ton to learn because I feel like Cloud [Engineering] is incredibly diverse. There’s so much to grasp, and while it may seem like a significant amount of time, you soon realize it’s manageable within a short span. It was challenging, but I was determined to succeed. The community support was invaluable; whenever things got tough, there was always someone to lend a hand or offer guidance. We worked through challenges together. There were many sleepless nights, especially during exams, but everything was achievable. I firmly believe that with determination, anything is possible.

Tabitha: Did you ever get to work on any projects? Is there anyone that you want to talk about?

Samantha: I think the final project before our last group project was quite intense because we delved into CI/CD pipelines and all that stuff. There was a lot of trial and error involved. I was incredibly frustrated. Every time I thought I had it figured out, there was a glitch in my pipeline. It felt like a never-ending cycle of fixing and troubleshooting. Meanwhile, there were all these AWS bills piling up, adding to the stress. It was definitely challenging, but it made me realize that I thrive under pressure. I managed to build an entire project from scratch in just 2 weeks, which was incredibly rewarding. It felt like all the hard work and time I had put in were finally paying off. That project was both the most challenging and the most fulfilling for me. It showed me that I’m capable of handling complex tasks and reaching my goals.

Tabitha: I’m so proud of you, Samantha. And thank you so much for your honesty. Do you have any other “Oh, wow! I did it. This is me. I made it” project? 

Samantha: I think it was a project. And then I think when they got back to me about my internship, for the developer position, I could not actually believe someone was offering me an internship because the analysis is different from DevOps, completely different. It’s in a tech field, but then completely different things. I didn’t think I had been qualified enough because, of course, this was just the beginning for me, but then when they got back to me and said “We want you, we want to take a chance on you” that’s when I realized, this is actually happening. This is real. I did this, we are here. We’re getting there.

Tabitha: Did you have moments where you were a little bit scared? Or do you also have moments where you’re asked things that you could relate back to what you learned at AltSchool Africa?

Samantha: I think when I tried to apply before the last semester ended. I made sure I was applying as much as I could. I did a lot of research, a lot of tech companies, and companies that I thought that most probably have transitioned to cloud engineering in Uganda. I tried to do a lot of research on countries outside too. I wanted a company that is able to accommodate my learnings best because as much as I had gone through school, it was a whole different experience going through the practical thing. I also wanted a place that aligns with a lot of other things that mean a bit of social change and things like that.

I think I saw an advert from AirQo, but then they wanted a software engineering intern. They didn’t specify anything. So when I was applying, I specifically asked that I wanted to be a DevOps intern and if they had the space to accommodate me, I would gladly take it on. When I reached out, I specifically asked to be placed in a DevOps department if it could take me on. So when they reached back to me, they told me they’ve been looking for someone who wants to concentrate on DevOps. So they decided, you know what? They can take me on. I was grateful. 

Tabitha: Do you think AltSchool’s approach to education or learning has shaped your perspective on Software Engineering or even specifically Cloud Engineering?

Samantha:  Firstly, I think it’s a great idea to bring people from diverse backgrounds and places together. It helps bridge the gap for those transitioning from different careers into software engineering or the tech world. Also, having people from various cultures, like Nigeria and Kenya, has been one of the best parts of my schooling experience. 

They give you a different perspective on how your learning journey can be, and then they bring a different energy than what you’re used to. One thing that I know is there’s a lot of people who pushed me to get to where I am. I think it gives you the liberty to be something different without having to put in way more time than you should have, and also the community that it builds, because times when you’ll just read messages from Tabby and then you’re like, you know what? This is the encouragement [I need]. 

The community that AltSchool Africa builds in itself fosters the kind of environment that helps to actually grow in so many different ways. It makes you make friends.

I think it fosters innovation and creativity because you need to talk about learning just one thing. It gives you the liberty to juggle something else with school at the same time. You get what you want, but then you’re still doing what you’re supposed to do anyway. It helps you get creative in so many ways.

Tabitha: Based on your journey, what are some of the things that you have learned that you feel like you could pass on to other people?

Samantha: One thing I would say is, don’t put yourself in a box. I don’t think human beings are created to be one thing. You can be so many things at the same time. If you can be a parent and then go to work and school, you can be so many things. You can be anything that you want. Explore, expand your mind, and give yourself the credit. We don’t give ourselves enough credit for how much we can do. You just have to tell yourself that I can do this. Also, do it scared. Like, Why not? Do it scared. Do it frustrated. I feel like that’s the way to explore yourself, be better, and be so many things. 

Like, I want to be a DevOps engineer, but then 3 years from now or 3 years from now, what if I want to be something else? Give yourself the chance to be many things at the same time. It’s okay to change. Change is the only constant we have in this life. It’s the only thing that is assured in this life. Change whenever you want to. I understand that, but there are a lot of hours you’re having a day. Take a break also. If you feel like you’re overwhelmed, rest a bit.

Also, I think people should take a chance at AltSchool Africa. It’s offering so much that a lot of places are not offering. So, yeah, take part in the community, let people help you, take help as much as you can. I think with help, you realize there are so many things that you would be stuck with if you didn’t ask for help.


This blogpost was culled from an X Space interview with Samantha, hosted by Tabitha Kavyu, Community Manager at AltSchool Africa. Listen to the full conversation HERE.

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