Before April 2014, very little was known about me.I was in my final year of my Software Engineering at Kenyatta University trying to finish up my project.
One thing i was good at during my campus days was showing up at hackathons.I knew every single coding competition in the city;Rhok(Rhandom Hacks of Kindness), NASA Space App Challenge, Code4Democracy,Google Apps Challenge, name them.There is something about competition that excites the hell out of me(and of course the money that came with the winning).It is with the same spirit that i took part in IBM Master the Mainframe Challenge. (global contest where academic students learn about Mainframe Technology)
However since i was busy with my project, i never put much attention it,it was just another random competition i was taking part in.Little did i know that I would end up representing Kenya and Africa in the World Championship in Newyork. (Read a feature by Nation Media here)
5 years down the line, how has the competition contributed to my career growth? Well, through it, I got my first job before i even finished my exams.My first job gave the me the experience that i now use to manage DPO Groups Mobile Payments across the continent. That flight was the first time that i stepped foot into an Airport(My entire family came all the way to see me off,it takes a village they say).My passport has been blessed ever since. I met smart people from allover the world,I still keep in touch with a few friends like Shahini Sengupta(hoping to feature her story here, she is one brave woman). I got to meet cool IBMers (Troy Crutcher, Mike Todd and many others). I visited cool places like IBM Poughkeepsie plant, got my 15 secs of fame at NY Timesquare and many more.
To sum it up, participating in the global championship was an eye opener and it gave me the international exposure that contributed to my career growth. I have since been back to the US twice ,travelled to several other countries, spoken to close to twenty events(because of the competition, I started speaking about tech, careers and everything, the world now knew i existed).
To young students out here, you have so much time and as long as you have access to the internet, there is nothing blocking you from being the next champion in whatever field you are in.
Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.