Earlier this year, Anietie Akpanumoh who had been working as an IT Support Specialist and Network Security Officer for about 4 years quit his full time job.
Why did he do it?
Was it a toxic work environment?
Was he battling extreme levels of burnout?
Was he stifled and unable to pursue new passions or interests?
The answer to all of the questions above is "No."
So why did Anietie quit his job?
He wanted to focus on a new career path – Software Engineering.
And he chose to begin his journey at AltSchool Africa.
Out of curiosity and genuine interest in this story, we reached out to Anietie to know more about this life-changing decision, the impact it has had on his life and relationships and how the journey has been so far. We hopped on a call one Thursday afternoon and spent the next half hour giggling over shared experiences and discussing his hopes for the future.
Typically, workers, especially in developing or underdeveloped countries ensure that they secure another job before quitting one. For many, it offers “financial safety” especially in countries with high unemployment rates.
Many workers have had to endure hostile or toxic working conditions, poor remuneration and limited growth opportunities for many months–and sometimes, years–because quitting without another job offer is a luxury they cannot afford.
But Anietie took that risk.
During his almost 4-year stint at the IT unit of the pension company where he worked, Anietie pursued new interests and picked up new skills. In his first year alone, he learnt to design using Canva and then became the social media manager. In no time, he started to design with CorelDRAW and took on projects on Branding. As he progressed in the company, he explored website management and got exposed to User Interface (UI) design.
Working side-by-side with programmers, Anietie developed an interest in Software Engineering. He spoke glowingly about his then manager, a Senior Software Engineer who was incredibly supportive, and encouraged him to become a software engineer.
“When these guys came together, I saw things that they did. You know how you see software developers do a lot of things; building apps in-house, creating solutions to problems that we had, it was great! And my supervisor then used to encourage me, “try to learn this thing, you’d do well in Software Engineering”. I was given a task to manage our website and I had difficulties managing it because I didn’t really know how the structure works. That really gave me the boost to pursue a career in software engineering.”
When he finally decided to embrace a new career path, his love for (and experience in) design made the decision to choose Front End Engineering an easy one. He then spent a few months taking short courses but made little to no progress learning–until he found AltSchool Africa on Twitter.
“In December last year (2021), was when I decided it was time. I wasn’t going to delay again. I came across a post on Twitter about the School of Engineering “I needed a community that would guide me. If you’re learning Software Engineering on your own, sometimes, it’s difficult if you don’t have mentors that’d guide you. That was what was on my mind; “AltSchool [Africa] is the place for me. Let me just apply”.
Anietie quit his job in January 2022 and enrolled into AltSchool Africa in April–a decision he describes as the “best decision of his life”. Months prior, he had taken and passed a Basic Assessment–a prerequisite for full enrollment.
Programs at AltSchool Africa are fully-virtual and largely self-paced. The learning structure was specifically designed to accommodate everyone; students and working professionals who want to learn a new tech skill while still going to their conventional academic institutions or working day jobs. However, Anietie decided to apply into the School of Engineering and focus on learning full time.
Then came the question of how he planned to survive with no job for 12 months.
“The plan I had was, it’s either I resign and take [on] this thing [software engineering] full fledged because I knew that working at the company and going into software engineering would not be that easy for me so I planned ahead, saved money, and make some money on the side to help me during this process.”
Anietie was also going to keep his new adventure a secret from relatives and close friends but then decided otherwise. He had drawn up a foolproof plan with reasonable timelines and shared it with them to allay their fears.
“It wasn’t easy, really. At first, I didn’t want to tell anyone about my decision. I wanted to just do it on my own. But then, I thought to carry everyone along because if you live a lie, it becomes a problem as you’d keep lying and you’d get tired of it. I called my mum and my sisters and thank God [one of my] sister[s] understood me because she’s also in the IT field. She encouraged me because she understands how Software Engineering is and the money you can make. It wasn’t easy but I was able to convince them and show them the plan I had and they came to understand.”
On his experience learning at AltSchool Africa so far:
“My experience has been great so far. It’s giving what it’s supposed to give. The teachers and the tutors–Setemi is my man. He carries everyone along, makes sure everyone tries to understand. So the highlight for me is; 3-4 months ago, I didn’t know jack in software engineering. Now. I can do some things: I can build a website, I can contribute to Open Source software. These are things I did not know before. I believe that I’m improving everyday and I can’t wait for the next three months”.
As our conversation wound down, I asked Anietie what he looked forward to achieving in the next few years:
“Going out of AltSchool Africa with my skill, I’m looking forward to doing a lot. I won’t say I want to be a startup founder (laughs). I’ll just say, I want to contribute and bring quality to any company I’d work for while still developing myself because I believe that after AltSchool [Africa], there will be a lot of opportunities for students. My immediate goal is to get a job and then who knows? One day, I could have a startup.”