In this off-season mini episode we talk about what it looks like when you start coding very early in life, with Opemipo Disu, 15-year-old developer advocate at urspace. Opemipu talks about what got him into coding so young, the resources and tools he enjoys using, and what his life looks like juggling high school and his coding projects.
[00:00:05] SY: Welcome to the CodeNewbie Podcast where we talk to people on their coding journey in hopes of helping you on yours. I’m your host, Saron, and today we’re doing an off-season mini episode talking about what it looks like when you start coding very early in life with Opemipo Disu, 15-year-old developer advocate at urspace.
[00:00:26] OD: My work is during the day, and in the evening, I work with my team around 3:00 AM or 1:00 AM.
[00:00:36] SY: Opemipo talks about what got him into coding so young, the resources and tools he enjoys using, and what his life looks like juggling high school and his coding projects after this.
[00:00:57] SY: Thank you so much for being here.
[00:00:59] OD: Thank you.
[00:01:00] SY: So you are currently 15 years old and you’ve already done some really cool things in your development career. Can you tell us about your coding journey and how you got into all of this?
[00:01:29] SY: Wow! So what inspired you to start doing all this at such a young age?
[00:01:34] OD: I actually love different applications like Facebook, WhatsApp. Elon Musk, that’s my role model, and also Mark Zuckerberg and also Bill Gates, who I follow their stories and it’s guiding me through my coding journey.
[00:01:50] SY: So tell me what it looks like to teach yourself. What resources do you use? How do you figure out what to learn and what resources you pick? Tell me about that.
[00:02:00] OD: When I was learning Visual Basic and different technologies, I used edX. My first line resource I used was Alison.com where I have my certificates for Visual Basic, like fundamental in Visual Basic programming course. And also edX, I have Codecademy, I have Coursera, I have Udacity, and the rest.
[00:02:24] SY: So right now you’re a developer advocate at urspace. What is urspace?
[00:02:29] OD: Urspace is actually a platform that enables you to create a web application or a portfolio website on a blog in a few steps.
[00:02:38] SY: Very cool. And what does your role look like there? What does a developer advocate at urspace do?
[00:02:44] OD: Being a developer advocate at urspace is actually a very, very, very multi-tasking responsibility. For example, we have to work on creating technical articles, working on creating new features for urspace, working on different stuff, like walk-through videos and giving feedback to the developer community and actually working with the software engineers with the team and also working with the markets in urspace.
[00:03:15] SY: So being a developer advocate at any job is a tough job. It requires someone to be a good communicator, but also someone who’s very technical and you got this role at age 15. How did you get hired for this role?
[00:03:27] OD: Yeah. So I actually love making things more accessible for the total price and making things more accessible for different people to use, which is actually something I’m passionate about. For example, I’m working on making Jamstack more accessible to developers and machine learning more accessible to developers using IBM Watson. So with IBM Watson and Jamstack, I’ve been able to do different things, which made me a developer advocate. For example, I started off working at Tutorbook App as a developer advocate last year. And being a developer advocate actually comes with a very great responsibility of making things more accessible for people. So I moved into Agility CMS. That’s one of the best Jamstack for developers. So I moved into Agility CMS as a developer advocate. Agility CMS is currently in Toronto, Canada. So as a 15-year-old, the advice I give people is they should keep reaching out to companies. For example, I’m working on collaborating with IBM and other companies like Agility CMS. I’m currently collaborating with them. And I reach out to companies to seek job applications without the main company requesting for [INAUDIBLE 00:04:41].
[00:04:43] SY: That’s a great idea. I love that you’re so confident and ambitious and persistent in continuing to ask these companies for roles. And it sounds like it works out for you. Yeah. It worked out.
[00:04:53] OD: Thank you.
[00:04:54] SY: So what do you like most about being a developer advocate? What’s your favorite part of the job?
[00:04:58] OD: Yeah. My favorite part of the developer advocate job is the community aspects. For example, people reach out to me on social media, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, about urspace or different companies I’m working for, and these are actually very, very, very good parts, like people reaching out to me and then giving them feedback or giving them a very rich response about products.
[00:05:25] SY: So you are still in school. How do you find time to be a developer advocate and also stay on top of your homework, your schoolwork? How do you manage that?
[00:05:34] OD: My schoolwork is during the day, and in the evening I work with my team around 3:00 AM or 1:00 AM. And I also do that in the evening, also 6:00 to maybe 2:00 AM.
[00:05:50] SY: Wow! That is intense. That is a very, very busy schedule. So one of the really neat things about your career, your background is that you’ve already become an IBM champion. Can you tell us what that means? What that is and how you got there?
[00:06:04] OD: IBM champion means you’re a leader of non-experts in the IBM community. Being an IBM champion is also being like a developer advocate for the IBM community. This is mainly the program or the developer advocates a program that’s actually [INAUDIBLE 00:06:21] with some developer advocacy. To be selected and to be an IBM champion, you have to be a co-contributor in the IBM community. That’s the only way I became an IBM champion. Someone nominated me after becoming a top contributor in the IBM community.
[00:06:40] SY: What did you contribute to?
[00:06:41] OD: I think I’m a very different IBM champion. For example, myself, I do open source for the IBM community. I do blogging. I have feedback about different projects, like IBM Watson, that’s the basic thing I do for IBM as an IBM champion.
[00:07:02] SY: You’re also really big into Jamstack, which you’ve already mentioned a couple of times. Can you tell us what Jamstack is?
[00:07:30] SY: So do you have any personal projects? I don’t know if you have time for it, but do you have any personal projects that you’re also working on and excited about?
[00:07:36] OD: I’m currently working on Africa’s first movie subscription website, something like Netflix but for African movies only.
[00:07:46] SY: So for Netflix for African movies, how are you building that? What tools and technologies are you using?
[00:07:58] SY: So you are based in Nigeria, I believe. Is that right?
[00:08:02] OD: Yeah.
[00:08:03] SY: And I think that most, not all, but most of our listeners, I believe are US-based. Tell us about the technology landscape in Nigeria. What’s that community like?
[00:08:12] OD: Yeah. In Nigeria, we have different people’s approaches. In Nigeria, [INAUDIBLE 00:08:17]. Every day, we’re doing tasks for them. We have people who use different technologies in Nigeria, first is Jamstack, as I’m the lead of Jamstack, so I’m the Jamstack lead. So I’ve seen many people interested in Jamstack. I’ve seen different people interested in the technologies I’m interested in, for example, IBM Watson. I think that’s how it looks like in Nigeria.
[00:08:41] SY: That’s very exciting. Yeah. I know there’s a huge, huge tech community in Nigeria and you’re clearly a big, big part of that. That’s very exciting. So I’m curious to hear what your social life is like, because frankly, you’re doing a lot of stuff that adults do. You’re doing a lot of stuff that older, more established people are doing who are developers. And I’m wondering, do you have friends that are similarly into tech the way that you are? Or what does that look like for you?
[00:09:10] OD: I watch movies. I talk with my friends. For example, whenever I’m off work, I can easily chat with my friends online. For example, I have different friends, like Tanmay Bakshi. I have different people, a lot of teenage developers around the world. So I actually talk to them. I make different conversations with them. That’s how my social life is.
[00:09:33] SY: Okay.
[00:09:33] OD: And whenever I’m off work, I watch movies or play football or sort of that.
[00:09:42] SY: And what do your parents think of all this? I must imagine that they’re really proud of you. What do they think?
[00:09:46] OD: They’re actually supporting my career path. My parents are into my career path. That’s basically how it goes for me.
[00:09:55] SY: Yeah. What’s been the hardest part of all this for you? When you think about the fact that you’re a developer advocate, you’re an IBM champion, you’re a student, you have a real job you do in the evenings and nights, what’s been the most challenging part of all of this?
[00:10:06] OD: Yeah. The biggest part is myself coming back from school, then thinking of working again.
[00:10:16] SY: How much time do you end up spending at work every week?
[00:10:18] OD: During the weekends probably 10 hours and during the week, whenever I come back from school, that should be around four hours.
[00:10:28] SY: Okay. So what is in your future? Do you want to continue on this career path of doing more developer advocacy? Do you want to go to college? What’s next for you?
[00:10:39] OD: Frankly, I’m on a mission to reach out to over one million developers and inspire them. So I want to study very soon in Canada, hopefully. Yeah. So I want to study there for computer science, to study in the University of Regina, Computer Science. I don’t want to stir on my career path. I want to be a developer advocate expert, like an exciting developer advocate in a few years’ time. So I actually, once you grew out of what I’m being taught, and I also want to study in Canada. It’s one of my basic plans for 2021.
[00:11:20] SY: So what is your biggest piece of advice to other teens who are listening, who might be interested in getting into code, or maybe parents who are listening, who want their kids to get into code? What are you going to say to them?
[00:11:30] OD: Yeah. For parents who want their kids to get into coding, I would actually say what it is the future. Many things are going to change in the next few years. I really want people to discover their path early in life. For example, I discovered my career path when I was five. I actually have friends in these career paths as the age I discovered mine also. So I would actually advise every parent listening to this to get a career path for their children, and for the job seeker, work on collaborating, which companies advise every job seeker to work with different companies like what I’m doing for IBM. And we chose the companies [INAUDIBLE 00:12:19]. That’s my advice for job seekers.
[00:12:28] SY: Now at the end of every episode, we ask our guests to fill in the blanks of some very important questions. Are you ready to fill in the blanks?
[00:12:34] OD: Yeah.
[00:12:36] SY: Number one, worst advice I’ve ever received is I see?
[00:12:39] OD: I have not received any worst advice yet.
[00:12:41] SY: Okay. That’s great. Number two, best advice I’ve ever received is?
[00:12:46] OD: My best advice I’ve received is reaching out, to reach out to companies I once worked for.
[00:12:53] SY: Number three, my first coding project was about?
[00:12:56] OD: A media player.
[00:12:58] SY: Number four, one thing I wish I knew when I first started to code is?
[00:13:03] OD: None. None. None.
[00:13:06] SY: Nothing?
[00:13:06] OD: Yeah.
[00:13:07] SY: Nothing you wish you knew from 10 years of coding?
[00:13:10] OD: Nothing.
[00:13:12] SY: Well, thank you so much for joining us.
[00:13:13] OD: Yeah. Thank you very much for having me.
[00:13:22] SY: This show is produced and mixed by Levi Sharpe. You can reach out to us on Twitter at CodeNewbies or send me an email, firstname.lastname@example.org. Join us for our weekly Twitter chats. We’ve got our Wednesday chats at 9 P.M. Eastern Time and our weekly coding check-in every Sunday at 2 P.M. Eastern Time. For more info on the podcast, check out www.codenewbie.org/podcast. Thanks for listening. See you next week.
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