AltSchooler Diaries: Patrick Aziken, the Tech Multipotentialite who Learnt Cloud Engineering at AltSchool Africa 

Despite Patrick Aziken’s experience as a web designer, he decided to learn a new skill and then joined the Cloud Engineering program at AltSchool Africa. In this interview, Patrick talks to us about his time at AltSchool Africa, what prompted his decision to learn Cloud Engineering, and how he was able to juggle learning with his daily commitments.


Tabitha: So, Patrick, first of all, thank you so much for honoring our invitation and agreeing to do this with us, the floor is yours

Patrick:  I’m Patrick, a former AltSchooler, it feels so good to be here, you know, amongst people. 

Tabitha: I’m curious to know, how did you decide to learn Cloud Engineering at AltSchool Africa?

Patrick: Okay. Fun fact. I actually joined to study front-end engineering. And then, a month or about 2 to 3 weeks into the program, I felt the urge to explore something different. While I had experience in front-end engineering and web design, I found the front-end space saturated and sought a new challenge. Cloud engineering seemed like a logical progression from my experience as a systems administrator. Contrary to popular belief that people were fleeing front-end due to JavaScript, my decision to pursue cloud engineering was driven by a desire for something new and challenging.

Tabitha:  Before we go further into the details, Patrick, I’d like to know, I’m pretty sure there are different platforms you could go to. What led you to choose AltSchool?

Patrick: I come from a self-taught background in IT, having learned web design, computer assembly, and administration on my own. I pretty much taught myself everything, you know and I just found it quite fun to do.  I have about 2, or 3 friends who have been DevOps SRE Engineers for like 2, or 3 years already. I was drawn to cloud engineering after encouragement from friends already working in DevOps and SRE roles. However, I was hesitant about self-learning and sought a structured community. I might have spent the next 2 years just running around and beating about the bush. So I was looking for how to learn this thing in a community. I’ve been in previous communities, but the problem was always, the fact that we’re always alone, like, there was no actual teaching, so to speak. I then saw AltSchool Africa, and I was like, okay. And, I said this looks like something good, and it’s something new. Also, AltSchool Africa stood out with its promise of a diploma program, structured curriculum, and community support. The platform’s efforts to connect students with employers were additional factors that sealed the deal for me. I’ve had to encourage my sisters to sign up for the School of Product. Like, I’ve seen, I’ve gained a lot from it. 

Tabitha: Thank you so much for saying all that, and I can only say that I hope you got what you were looking for?

Patrick:  One hundred percent. Interestingly, I’ve had to encourage my sisters to sign up for the School of Product because they don’t like [conventional] school, but I’ve pretty much “gingered” them like “Hey guys, go for this thing. I’ve seen a good thing in it. I’ve gained a lot from it”.

Tabitha: Thank you. Can you describe the process from when you applied to become a software engineering student at AltSchool?

Patrick: Sure. I discovered the program through Twitter, registered on the website, and paid the registration fee. After taking the entrance exam, I received my school ID. We also received study kits to prepare for the exam, covering basic topics like HTML and CSS. Later, we had a tour of TalentQL HQ and attended classes where we learned HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

Tabitha: Could you walk us through your journey as a cloud engineering student?

Patrick: After the first semester, we transitioned to individual tracks. I switched from front end to cloud engineering and attended live classes on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The LMS platform provided pre-recorded videos and exercises, with opportunities to submit tasks and take exams. We covered topics like resume building and scrum methodology. The school provided support for students facing challenges and offered opportunities to catch up on missed tasks.

Tabitha: How do you manage your daily activities while keeping up with exams, classes, and content on the LMS? 

Patrick: Balancing everything wasn’t easy, but my background as a freelancer helped. I divided my time efficiently. For example, live classes were 2 hours on Wednesdays, and LMS videos were usually short, around 15 to 30 minutes. I dedicated 30 minutes to an hour each day to cover the material. Sometimes, I couldn’t do much during the week due to family and work commitments. So, I caught up during weekends, especially if there were tasks to submit. Even while driving or at work, I listened to live classes. If work extended beyond 5 PM, I’d still attend classes, even if it meant multitasking. I learned to manage my time wisely. For instance, if I had a morning shift at work, I used my nights to study. Learning for long stretches can be exhausting, so I limited sessions to 30 minutes to an hour. I also relied on Slack and made friends there to help me stay updated and motivated. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or seek help. Prioritize learning over distractions like social media. Investing even just an hour a day in learning pays off in the long run.

Tabitha: Can you share your thoughts on the community at AltSchool Africa? Did it make a difference for you?

Patrick: Absolutely, being part of the community at AltSchool Africa was incredibly beneficial. It provided me with opportunities to connect not only with peers in my learning track but also with individuals from other tracks and even some of the staff members. It was eye-opening to realize that these were real people behind the scenes, not just distant figures. For instance, Abubakar Siddiq Ango, who does Developer Advocacy at GitLab, shattered the perception that only geniuses or special individuals work at renowned companies like GitLab, Microsoft, or Google. The welcoming atmosphere, especially from the AltSchool team, made a significant impact. 

They were approachable, readily available to assist, and open to discussing topics at convenient times. The community also facilitated interactions with influential figures whom we often only saw on social media. Hearing their journeys, often similar to mine, instilled a sense of possibility and motivation. Additionally, encounters with individuals facing similar challenges but thriving in their careers, despite adversity, served as powerful inspiration. It’s clear that the support and opportunities provided by the community, particularly AltSchool advisors, have been instrumental in fostering inspiration and progress among many of us. In essence, the community’s impact cannot be overstated.

Tabitha: Can you tell me about times when you learned with others, either seeking help or figuring things out together?

Patrick: Sure. I learned alongside others, mostly in group settings like in my track. We formed a small WhatsApp group and had learning circles where we collaborated. Sometimes, friends even came to my house for study sessions, especially when we found certain tech concepts daunting, like using a command line. I remember feeling overwhelmed, but with collective efforts, we understood better. I also made short explanatory videos to aid classmates, who affectionately called me ‘old school’ for my methods. Learning was continuous, even after graduation, as we formed a WhatsApp group to share insights and troubleshoot errors at work.

Tabitha: What did you enjoy most about AltSchool Africa and how did it shape you?

Patrick: My goal was to become a cloud engineer, and AltSchool provided the platform to achieve it. Unlike previous courses, I committed to completing this one. I secured an internship midway through the program and later became a DevOps engineer, gaining practical experience in real-time deployments. AltSchool’s mentorship and practical approach helped me secure a full-time role with a good salary. I’m grateful for the hands-on experience and continuous learning.

Tabitha: How can potential AltSchool students make the most of the diploma program?

Patrick: AltSchool offers genuine value. Mentors guide students, and practical sessions help apply knowledge directly. The program molds students into skilled professionals quickly. I and others achieved good salaries within a short period due to the practical experience gained. I encourage prospective students to seize the opportunity for the immense value AltSchool offers.

Tabitha: Thank you for sharing your experience and encouraging others to join AltSchool. It’s evident how much you gained from the program. Any additional advice for potential students?

Patrick: Absolutely. AltSchool provides tremendous value for its students. The hands-on experience and mentorship are invaluable. I encourage anyone considering AltSchool to pursue it wholeheartedly; the rewards are beyond measure.


This blogpost was culled from an X Space interview with Patrick Aziken, hosted by Tabitha Kavyu, Community Manager at AltSchool Africa on Thursday, January 18th 2024. 

To catch more on the conversation, listen HERE  

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