I’d always wanted to be a developer. Growing up, I watched practically every computer-related movie/documentary I could find – from Pirates of Silicon Valley and The Social Network to Triumph of the Nerds and Revolution OS. There was just something about spending hours at a keyboard that fascinated me. Weird? I know. Nonetheless, such was what appealed to a younger Tofunmi Kupoluyi.
Upon graduation from secondary school, I decided to take a gap year before going off to university. As with anyone taking a gap year, I was confronted with the unavoidable question, ‘what do I do?’ Well, in what seemed to me like a fairytale sequence of events, that question was answered. I was invited to intern at a FinTech startup, Flutterwave.
Now at this point, you’re probably wondering, ‘what is Flutterwave?’ No need to be abashed – I was too, when I stepped in on my first day. Still caught up in the haze of my offer, I walked in that day only knowing that they were into e-payment and yeah, I was going there to improve my code. What exactly they did and how they worked, I was completely oblivious to.
Soon enough though, I was introduced to their clientele and everything started to make sense. Their list of clients? Almost every company collecting online payments in Nigeria. From major banks and Uber (yes, the UBER!), to my own church, everyone was consuming Flutterwave’s APIs. Here, amidst the jokes and lax working environment, was a company redefining what it meant to make payments in Africa. In a small community-like office however, it wasn’t hard to forget the enormity of what was being done.
I soon settled into life as a Flutterwave intern. As days passed, I slowly started seeing subtle changes in my code. Elements I’d often trivialized like indentations and comments soon started appearing. I started including third-party dependencies, writing REST APIs and by my fourth week I’d built an online shopping mall system. More importantly though, the developer jokes started making sense and comments like, “Oh boy, my stomach is throwing exceptions this afternoon” all of a sudden didn’t sound so foreign.
By my sixth week, I started having business strategy meetings with Jim, the product manager. As we sat in the meeting room, discussing business plans and sales tactics, my thought pattern started to change. From ‘what programming language should I write this application in’, I started asking the question, ‘how does this application help people’. For weeks, I’d learnt how to debug code, but with Jim, I learnt how to debug business plans. It was no longer about application flow and syntax but now application usability and feasibility.
As I came to the end of my eighth week, I bid Flutterwave goodbye. With A-Level courses and university application deadlines, I had to go in search of the great perhaps. The lessons I learnt and the people I met in those Providence Street offices however, I will remember for a lifetime. I’m especially grateful to the developers I worked with in my time there – Femi, Deji, Gondy, Iyke, Ridwan, Remi, Obinna. I thank my handler, Gondy, most especially; his passion for his job and belief in my potential inspired me to keep coding even when my applications spawned unreasonable errors. In my two months, I was able to live out a childhood dream and for that opportunity I am eternally grateful to the founding members and the entire team at Flutterwave. Till we meet again, thank you.