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NOT JUST AN INTERN (MANDISA'S STORY)

21-year-old Code for Cape Town alumni, Mandisa Dlubom joined Responsive Tech as an intern earlier this year and we’re so grateful that she did. We asked her a few questions and her answers reveal why she has been such a good fit and how having her with us has been more than mutually beneficial. What a woman!


What sparked your interest in coding?

Coding was not love-at-first-sight for me. I attended the Centre of Science and Technology (COSAT) in Highschool and one of my main subjects was Information Technology. We learned Java in IT but it was a daily struggle to make myself pay attention in class. I made all these excuses for my disinterest. I had no computer at home to practice it, Java was boring, guys are better at IT than girls and so on. It all changed when Code for Cape Town (Code4CT) invited students from our school to their code camp during the June holidays. My friends and I decided to go to the camp so that we could have a good time together, get a certificate, free food and not have to sit at home during the holidays. We learned how to code at the camp and I couldn’t believe that my code was working! It was such a wonderful experience: A place full of girls solving problems through code. At the end of the camp, the certificates came and the food was a delicious memory but what stuck with me was the sense of purpose I found in coding.

 

What motivates you to code?

My journey motivates me to code.

I have learned that to build great things and become a coder, you have to be a problem solver, patient with the process and prepare to make an investment. The journey takes time. Lots of time. After my mind-shift in 2014 (believing that I can produce good code), I passed Information Technology in my matric year with the second highest mark of my term results. Initially, I was afraid to put in the extra time needed to improve my coding because I wasn’t sure if I would even pass the subject. Now, when the challenge comes, I don’t say, “Why me?” but rather, “Try me!”

 

Who I am, motivates me to code.

I am the second person to matriculate in my family and a first to matriculate with a Bachelor pass. When I matriculated, I didn’t know what to study. My family wanted me to go to university, and get a degree because I had done quite well so far. I had a passion for coding but I didn’t want to study computer science. Eventually, I registered with CodeSpace Academy and did a 6 months full-time web development course. I graduated and started my career as a developer.

 

Most importantly, my truth motivates me to continue to code.

I see myself as that one domino that falls first and the rest follow. I’m one of the few young women of colour that have pursued a career in coding. I’m that domino that fell in love with coding and I hope other women will follow. I want to positively influence the future by helping women of colour not to suffer from impostor syndrome or be afraid to pursue a career in coding.

 

 

Tell us about what you’re doing at Responsive?

I’m currently a front-end developer at Responsive. Front-end development is the use of code languages to develop the appearance of a website, it’s the styling and structuring of web page’s content, user experience, and functionality. Responsive is a digital company that has a great culture.

 

How did you become an intern at Responsive?

I started interning at Responsive in January 2018. I was scared about being at a new company and wondered if people would be welcoming or if I would fit in. I soon realized that at Responsive, change is embraced and welcomed but one thing that everyone has in common is being self-motivated team players.

 

What’s so special about Responsive?

When I walked into their kitchen on my first Monday, it seemed like they were preparing a feast and I wondered if I was in the right place. I soon learned that Monday morning staff breakfasts are an important part of Responsive’s culture. We all eat breakfast together, celebrate birthdays and other internal events and then one of the leaders gives an inspirational talk. The spirit of collaboration inspires me and I feel privileged to be part of a company with a such a positive atmosphere.

 

What’s something you’ve already learned at Responsive?

I’ve noticed that Responsive always goes beyond the client’s brief and expectations. This is possible because the team collaborates so well and thus produces great products and services. I have learned that this is the best way to work. The fact that we are valued and not treated like robots (pushed to get the job done) motivates us to be more and do more.

 

Are you growing at Responsive?

Definitely! The company invests in your personal growth and job satisfaction through leadership. A few weeks after joining Responsive, I got two job offers. One wanted to hire me as a PHP Junior Developer and the other as an Email Marketing Deployment Consultant. I turned down both jobs and I don’t regret it. Why would I want to leave a dream job just for a fancy title and maybe more pay? Responsive is a community and most importantly a family, I've been through enough to realize that and stick by my decision.

 

How do you think coding will help you reach your career goals?

I now see coding as problem-solving and I believe that with this kind of skill anything is possible. I see myself in the next few years as a full-stack developer and having an eye for design. Coding is helping me face my problems, fears and challenges head-on. I see myself constantly growing and becoming a better developer every day. Yes, at times there are more challenging projects but the feeling I get when I make a breakthrough is so amazing. Through coding I’m more confident about myself and my achievements and trust me, they are as small as mastering CSS Flexbox properties to completing an emailer, etc. but the bottom line for me is, it's my success no matter the scale and I’m a better developer than I was a week ago. This career has made me realize that I’m the leader of my journey and an ambassador for my work, the company I work for and everything else I touch.

 

What advice would you give to girls considering a career in Tech?

Be true to yourself, never doubt your capabilities and always be willing to grow and continuously learn new things. Don’t be afraid to start from the bottom in the tech world. For example, being an intern or a junior employee. Stop telling yourself that they are not good enough or will never be a senior employee. All in all, one has to be willing to put in the work to be better at what they do. Success and happiness don’t come from following others but from finding your own unique way.

 

 

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