Inspirational Influencers: Akintunde Sultan

An inspiration indeed! A read on Sultan's journey into tech, #Laptops4Developers campaign, and his advice on breaking into the industry.

My name is Sultan, Akintunde Sultan, well I always have to tell people Sultan isn’t a nickname or a title. I’m Nigerian, lived in Lagos state for a very long period of my life before going for my degree in Obafemi Awolowo University. When I was in my year 2 going to 3, I wanted to change my major from Geography to Computer Science for the exact reason I still don’t know till today; I mean you can have a degree in Geography and still be a software developer, so it wasn’t about the course. Let’s just say the reality of me studying Geography dawned on me late. I never completed the degree program then, so I had to start all over in another University, and now, in Computer Science. And, yes, I got that degree. While I was in the University, I was the President of the “National Association of Computer Science Students” in my school and also the Director of software for all institutions in Southwest, Nigeria [ about 54 Schools]. I’m also a facilitator for ConsonanceClub, the second fastest growing tech community in Nigeria.

How did you get into coding? What were you doing prior?

I never started my journey into tech hoping to be a developer, I just wanted to make things work. I started out writing my first line of code on a Nokia java phone. I had access to a free hosting service called wapka.mobi which I used in building a website where users can download opera mini and other low sized applications. In no time, I upgraded to adding a free .tk service and upgraded to building websites where users can register and reply to threads. Yes, still on a mobile phone and had to code online only.

I started wrongly, going full stack from the onset, never learned HTML, to me then, HTML was just something you go and check to know how to make your headings or paragraph, and, sometimes tables too.

I never had any full guidance, was not aware of the proper way to learn and for a while, I didn’t know I was supposed to code with laptops. 

How has Twitter influenced you as a developer/in your career? What type of content motivates you?

I have been a twitter user since 2012,I left, came back and got suspended for reasons I still do not know. I created another twitter account in late 2016. This time, things were different. I had learned about web development and Digital marketing. I had worked as a freelance and also contributed to several projects. So coming back to twitter, I came in as a tech guy, advocating for youths like myself and taking on people to mentor.

January 2019, I bought some Udemy courses and shared out to folks in Nigeria who said they wanted to learn but couldn’t afford to pay for these courses. After sharing a few, I got support from other tech folks to do more, and from sharing the 4 – 5 courses, I ended up giving out more than 100paid courses.

I’m 95% percent interested in tech topics majorly, I make sure most tweets that show up on my TL are tech-related. 

Tell us all about your campaign #Laptops4Developers. What inspired you to start it? What’s your mission? How has it been going and how can we help?

#Laptops4Developers is one of those projects that just pop up while talking to friends, While I was a volunteer at TechQuest Camp, a nonprofit coding organization that introduces Kids to STEM. A friend Sarah Nmachi spoke to me about raising funds to start her .NET training on twitter. She told me the problems she faced while raising the fund and how lots of people doubted the credibility because she was a Nigerian. Today, she’s an amazing developer.

So I started it all with a tweet. The aim was to raise a million naira ( $2700)  to buy laptops for 10 people. It was supposed to be that simple until I got over a thousand people showing interest all within 48hours of making the tweet. So, I called a team of friends and we had a conversation, how best to do this and what should the result be. Even though for the first week of starting the campaign, we didn’t receive any donation, we kept making the plans.

Then we took the time to analyze the problems in the growth of tech newbies in Africa.  

No good laptop, Lack of mentorship, no course outline to follow, cost of internet access and bad electricity. So I concluded, I was going to build a system that provides all these, handle security and insurance for the resources, and at the end provide jobs for the trained developers.

So yes, the MISSION is to support underprivileged youths who are into tech but are stuck in the beginner stage due to lack of resources ( Laptops, course, mentorship and a comfortable learning space ).

The program has been going well, we’ve met the current Gofundme target and we’ve gotten all laptops needed, thanks to isams.com in the UK for the support.

The DevCareer team also got an invite and met with the current CEO of GitHub, Nat Friedman when he paid a visit to Nigeria, he advised us and also encouraged us to use the Github educational platform. 

We received thousands of applications to the program and we’ve been able to sort based on various criteria also aptitude and coding tests to select candidates. Candidates who pass the coding test are then invited to a physical interview.

We have an amazing selection model, thanks to the various minds that advised me on this, but the program is not a one-time cohort, so we will continue to need more support, in form of Laptop donations, Fund donations, Course sponsorship and mentorship for qualified candidates.

I have found passion in this and DevCareer would continue to build up more developers in Africa. I dropped an offer to handle the B2C of an amazing hosting company here in Nigeria and also quit two of my jobs just to be able to see this through.

Now we have a structure and a lot of facilitators and I’ll probably go into Developer Relations (Avocado) with a suitable company soon. 

We intend to keep running more cohorts while making sure to increase the numbers.   

Here’s a Gofundme link for DevCareer and anyone who wish to donate directly can get in touch with us too via sponsors@devcareer.io: here

Out of the thousands that showed interest, here’s a link to pictures of candidates in different states in Nigeria:

Oyo state : here

Lagos: here

Abuja: here

Your campaign seems to be so successful and positive. It’s very inspiring! What advice would you give to those raising money for a cause? 

The campaign was successful, thanks to the developer community on Twitter.  None of these would have been possible without the support from #TechTwitter and #BlackTechTwitter.  For someone who doesn’t show his face online, (oh yes, I haven’t publicized a picture with my face for over 5 years now on social media). At first, people doubted the campaign, but this started to clear when I made sure to publicly announce each donation and document it.

For anyone trying to raise funding for a cause, especially on social media, it’s always best if it’s within your scope; what people know you for. Also if it’s a publicly funded project, then make sure to carry the public along on the project.

I would also advise not to have a pre-written copy and paste text while approaching individuals to donate, people can see when it’s a prewritten text.

Also, target people who will find interest in the program, people who will see the advantage of the success of the program.

Breaking into tech can be quite difficult for different reasons. What trials and tribulations did you run into trying to break into the industry? What advice would you give to someone looking to break in?

One of the major problems I faced on my journey is the lack of a curriculum while learning, well ,this can be solved if there is a mentor to guide you. 

The major problems most newbies would face are:

Deciding what aspect to learn: Would you want to be a Frontend developer? If so, what would you major in? Angular or React? Would you want to be an app developer? Android major or IOS? 

All these are things I think beginners should discuss with their mentors before jumping full time into a tech field.  

KNOW WHAT YOU WANT TO LEARN, AND WHAT THE PREREQUISITES ARE.

Where can people find you and continue supporting you?

Twitter (@hackSultan): here

DevCareer on Twitter (@dev_careers): here

LinkedIn (Hack Sultan): here

DevCareer on LinkedIn (dev careers): here

DevCareer website: here (We created a profile page where developers can register and have a mini CV online with the DevCareer handle)

My DevCareer page: here

Scotch: here

Dev.to: here

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