Azubuine Samuel Tochukwu is a first class graduate of Software Engineering from UNN, and in this interview, he speaks on plans to build his career path.
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What is your educational background?
I grew up in the busy and bubbly city of Onitsha, in Anambra State where I attended one of the best schools, Christ the King College, Onitsha for secondary education and Mabo Primary School for my nursery and primary education.
Initially, I wanted to study Chemical Engineering partly because I was very good in Chemistry but my application to the University of Benin wasn’t successful. I then proceeded to obtain my A-Level and later gained admission to study Agricultural and Bio-resources Engineering at the University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN). I recently graduated with first-class honours (Summa Cum Laude) from the same university.
When semester did you first get a first-class grade?
My second year wasn’t all blissful but I ended with a “four point-ish”, cumulatively. I made first class in my third year, but you know it’s a cumulative thing and not on semester basis, so my final and penultimate year helped boost my previous grade points from other years.
What did you do differently that made you come out on top?
I wouldn’t say I’m a nerd, or I read 11 hours every day, nah. Honestly I just knew I wanted the best out of life and the university. I like this line from Goethe that, ‘things that matter the most should never be at the mercy of things that matter the least’. It all boils down to time management and getting my priorities right, and again building systems to help me stay on track.
Donella Meadows’ “Thinking in Systems: A Primer” did justice to this. For instance, I used to trick myself by setting my time to be 30 minutes faster, ahead of the local time. This helped me a lot especially when I’m behind schedule.
Notwithstanding, I wouldn’t stand here and I tell you I was a student with no social life. I had friends from all departments and very extroverted. I mean I like humans; we are very interesting and unique, but my university and accumulated experience helped me find a middle ground. Currently, I would say I’m an ambivert, immediately adjusting when I need to and especially to get stuff done. So, I think I just did the right things at their supposed right time.
What do you enjoy most about being a software engineer?
I would say the community, and the awareness that you’re never alone, the army of mentors out there, especially on Twitter, often always willing to help, and the numerous available learning resources and open-source tools. However, amidst all this, one also has to be diligent and disciplined to finally thrive.
Do you have life and career mentors?
Yes, I do. I do have mentors or people I would say I admire for every aspect of my life. People like Naval Ravikant, he’s a deep thinker, entrepreneur and meditator; Sahil Lavingia and Dan Brown – their writing skills; and Elon Musk for consistency. Nnamdi Kanu, Jordan Peterson and Obama, their oratory skills and confidence and conviction is out of this world especially the former NK; Adams Grant, Lionel Messi for humility and skill and some others too.
What are your hobbies and interests?
One fun fact about me is I’m very gifted and skilled in football; I enjoy every bit of it. A friend marvelled at my skills once and told me I should be playing in the Champions League but we laughed it off. I also enjoy YouTube, writing, gulping down insightful books and meeting new interesting people and friends. I also enjoy travelling.
What are your overall career objectives?
First, I just graduated and I’m just starting my career. My longer-term goals are to learn a variety of areas within the tech space, specialise in one as an expert. I intend to join a company that offers me a stable and positive atmosphere and culture that inspires one to enhance and therefore bring one’s best to work, while still providing opportunities to learn new technologies and grow professionally.
My recent post on LinkedIn helped strike up some conversations for me with some recruiters, and I have been interviewed by a few of them. In addition, these skills would also be instrumental to conduct innovative and high impact research. Overall, I intend to make a positive impact with my skills on my world and community, and help shape my country’s narrative.
Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
I wouldn’t want to be hard on myself in achieving my goals or career, the pandemic has taught us a lot, and why we need to be flexible as the times. I wouldn’t boldly say I would be here or doing this in five years to come but I believe in whatever I’m doing. I would be interfacing between technology and products, the agricultural space and global markets. However, I admire and would want to work with the big MAANG formerly FAANG- Facebook now Meta, Amazon, Google in the near future.
What advice would you give to students who want to graduate with first class?
Frankly speaking, I don’t know how to or set out with the idea to motivate people. I just live my life. Motivation at best is often temporary. And coupled with there are many quotes out there already; trust Nigerian youths and their ingenuity in coming up with hot comedic phrases and motivational quotes. However, since we are here, I always have two favourite lines, from Henry Ford and the second from Naval Ravikant. “Whether you think you can or you cannot, either way you’re probably right,” it all boils down to our thoughts. Again like Naval would say, life is a single-player game, what worked for your friend or brother might not necessarily work for you. And your realities and experiences are, I would argue, often personal to you. In essence you just have to discover yourself and craft your path. Groupthink or herd-instinct is often not optimal, or dangerous. In the end you would be left all alone. So, with your thoughts, you can create your ideal world.