Guest post: Dawud Ibrahim Ismail - On Becoming a Lamplighter

Dawud Ibrahim

I always knew I wanted to do software professionally but didn’t know how until I joined Global Code in July 2018. It provided me with a lot of opportunities and a framework to realize my potentials and also to meet amazing people and find energy that I never knew I had. It was joyful to be part of the Global Code family last year and I have written my experiences in five sections, being a Global Coder, being a lamplighter, undergoing mentorship, coming back to Global Code as an instructor, and the future.

Being a Global Coder

I joined Global Code in July 2018 in UCC being skeptical that the promised of giving the participant a real taste of professional software engineering could be and would be delivered in 3 weeks and it was my first code camp outside my traditional CS classes that I was familiar with. Well, I got more than I could bargain for. After 3 weeks, I ended up learning more than I normally do in a normal academic semester and I got to know there is more for me to learn and to improve. We were taught by wonderful developers, Mark Walsh for the whole 3 weeks, with Stephen and Gjeta — both Engineers from Morgan Stanley instructing for the first week and a half and the last respectively.

We had the final week of the camp to work on a project, after two weeks of Python programming, IoT, MQTT, Git/Github, GPIOs, Web Apps, Web APIs and Hosting Platforms. I worked in a team of four on a project we called Okro, which was a web app implementation of Benford’s Law. It was a nice experience witnessing hands-on practical software engineering for the first time, beyond just Hello world programs. After the camp, I was chosen to be a lamplighter for a year.


I remember the next month after Global Code receiving an email from Sam Moorhouse, who by the way is a real Superman, has chosen me to be a lamplighter. The email was as simple as “Hi all, I hope you’re well!

You’re receiving this because you’re one of the Global Code students James and I selected to work with in the future. I’ve added you to this mail group so I can keep in touch with you.”

Over the course of the next 11 months, we’ll have monthly calls with Sam and James and in some cases, we’ll have external people engaging us for the hour we had monthly. We had a session on Presentation, Communication, how to succeed in the Corporate world, Deep learning, Programming concepts and plans for us as lamplighters among others. This was to better prepare us for work after school and in addition, we were all assigned mentors too.

Dawud Ibrahim

Global Code Mentorship

Being a lamplighter meant I’ll have a Global Code mentor for a year which I was assigned to Deep, a VP Engineering, Morgan Stanley — New York office. It would be first-ever formal mentorship. I was initially given just his name and email, so I had to write to him to introduce myself and also indicate to him areas I would love to improve that year. Part of the email after my introduction was

“This year I’m hoping to improve my Technical skills, Time Management and my Communications skills, and I’m hoping you can help!”

He got back to me in 3 days’ time and we arrange for monthly calls for the year. Over the next 10 months, I had the opportunity to learn a lot from him and to be advice on some key issues to accelerate my personal growth, Soft skills, technical skills and tips for effective time management as a student and as an engineer so that I could become a highly effective professional software Engineer.

We had the opportunity of discussing how important soft skills are to any Software Engineer and how I could improve on them. We also discussed some key software engineering and technical skills, with advice on how to master the Agile methodology and the use and importance of Test-Driven Development, while recommending some resources to help me.

I had the opportunity to get inputs as to how to manage my final year project and to work with others on a project. At the end of this formal mentorship in May, I had learnt a lot but the most important thing to me was that I got a new view of myself and found myself more organized and focused than before. Few shares of my mentor’s vulnerabilities to me strengthens me whenever in doubt that everybody goes through ups and downs even professionals.

Teaching on Global Code

I’m glad to have had the opportunity to volunteer as an instructor on the Global Code, and it was amazing. I was in Cape Coast on a Sunday before our first class on Monday. I was in a different hostel from the instructor so I didn’t get to meet him until the first Monday morning of class when I met my co-instructor Miteyan - this amazing Engineer from Morgan Stanley. We taught together until the third day when we were joined by Zsuzsana from Hungary who works with Microsoft.

We co-instructed until the end of the week when Miteyan left and Michael, another Engineer from Morgan Stanley joined us. In the week and half of instructing, we taught Linux, Python, Git/Github, Web APIs, IoT, and Raspberry Pi and GPIO. I finally left after a week and a half and replaced by Alex - another Lamplighter.

I had the opportunity to meet all the wonderful Global Coders from UCC this year and to say Bye to them after a week and a half was a very sad moment. It was really nice to have been in a position to help students inside and outside the classroom and to serve as motivation for others to work hard.

The future …

I am really happy to be joining turntabl this October 2019 as an Associate Software Engineer and as my National Service, to work on my dream of becoming a world-class Software Engineer. I’m looking forward to coming back to a Global Code class next year and the coming years to teach and be more involved in the organization process to see it expand to more schools in Ghana and to other countries.