My Journey Towards Greatness In CODE by Nkem Iroala

My father was sent on a diplomatic mission to South Africa, which availed me the opportunity to travel to SA, but I kept in touch with my home country. While abroad, I studied Bcom Financial Management at Varsity College South Africa. I have always wanted to gain my first work experience in my beloved country.

I was having a concise discussion with my sister about doing something that will keep me busy, and empower me positively when I return to Nigeria before I go for my National Youth Service. She then told me about CODE, and I was immediately drawn to the idea of working for CODE as I got more knowledge on the amazing work that they do. She immediately put a call through Hamzat Lawal who is the CEO of Connected Development and told him that I was interested in doing my summer internship with his organization, he replied by telling her I should send him my CV and Cover Letter. A week later when I returned to Nigeria, I sent my CV and cover letter to Hamzat, who replied with an appointment on Monday by 11am. I felt excited, so I went through the organization website and did some reading to get to know more about CODE before going for the interview. After going through the website, I felt prompt and ready for the interview.

The day of the interview finally came, I was excited but nervous as well because I didn’t know what to expect. While approaching the office, I met Rita, CODEs Administrative officer at the door way, I introduced myself to her and the first thing she said to me was “you are 15minutes late”. That made me more nervous but I had to put myself together, after which I apologized for coming late. She then took me into the office and as I came in I greeted everyone. I went to the conference table where I was introduced to the interviewer by the name of Dotun Babayemi who is the Monitoring and Evaluation Expert for CODE. While seated on the hot sit, Dotun noticed I was sweating a bit and decided to go put on the air condition for me, which I thought was really nice of him. He asked me what I knew about CODE and I told him everything. He made the interview more relaxing as we laughed about some comments he made. The interview finally came to an end and we said our goodbyes.

20151225_095514On my way home I felt I didn’t do quite well at the interview so I was really concerned that they wouldn’t employ me. I called my sister and told her about the interview and how I think I messed up but she told me to calm down and not overthink things.

A day after the interview, I kept checking my mail to see if I got a mail from CODE. And on a Sunday afternoon, I finally got the mail I have been waiting for, which notified me that my application was successful and that I should resume work on Tuesday, July 12 by 8am. I was excited that I will be leaving the house every day, no more days of lazing around the house, time to be productive. Although I wasn’t too happy that I have to resume by 8am but such is life, so I had to accept it, and looking back now, I have come to realize that pushing yourself is more rewarding than staying in your comfort zone.

July 12 came and I went to work. I met with the team, and I must say they are really friendly and welcomed me warmly. I didn’t really do much work on my first day, but the second day till now has been work, work and work.

I partook at the launch of CODEs Virtual newsroom. The product from the Virtual newsroom is set to engage and empower marginalized people in rural areas to enhance their livelihoods. I was the note taker for the meeting. For me it wasn’t just all about taking down notes but to gain an in-depth understanding of Follow The Money campaign and this new initiative.

Some of the responsibilities I have been allocated to are: writing down minutes of most meetings and sharing them amongst the team members, final auditing of CODE’S financial report before been sent to one of our donor – HBF, and partaking in the WhatsApp hangout with CODES community reporters, where I engaged with the reporters and answered some of their questions.

I was opportuned to follow the CEO himself Mr Hamzat to TVC Nigeria for a live stream to give an update about Follow the Money and #SaveShikira campaign. On our way I asked him “so am just going to take pictures right, while you do the talking”? And he said “No Nkem, it’s not all about taking pictures, it’s for you to gain experience and interact with people”. I took it in and when we went to TVC office, I interacted with their staffs, which was a good experience for me.

I represented CODE at the Public Consultative Forum with Civil Society Organization and the Organized Private Sector on the 2017-2019 Medium Term Fiscal Framework that was hosted by the Honorable Minister of Budget and National Planning, Sen. Udoma Udo Udoma. The conference was very interesting and gave me the opportunity to learn many issues and insights in regards to the budget. It was an enriching experience for me.

CODE held a press conference on the 26th of July, on their work in the past as well as future projects. I attended the conference and my primary role was to write down minutes, record the entire session and transcribe it. Transcribing an audio recording into text format wasn’t an easy task at all, it was time consuming and it required patience but at the end of the day I managed to finish and it was worth it.

I have always wanted to work for an NGO that reaches out to the less privileged. I believe in giving back to the community with my time and voice, and CODE provides that platform for me to do that.  

My experience at CODE so far has been an exceptional one. I am surrounded by skilled specialist with the main mission of empowering marginalized communities. Working with young experienced minds that are eager to make an impact in our society despite the economic conditions really inspires me. The experience and exposure I have gained in my short time at CODE has been incredible. I have had the opportunity to meet diverse groups of people and be inspired by the great work that is going on.

I look forward to entering a culture that is courteous and caring. Coming into work every morning where all interactions are heartfelt and genuine. It is almost like I am in a different culture from my typical experiences in the general public. Walking into work and being surrounded by the wonderful associates of CODE makes my work day much more enjoyable. More importantly, I am looking forward to making a change and contributing to the growth of CODE by doing my work with great efficiency and bringing new ideas to the table, that would enrich the lives of people in the society.