level up CSR initiative

Interview with a Coder: How To LevelUp

We recently caught up with one of our LevelUp scholars who has paved his way to a 1 year, full-time internship in the Ireland’s IT industry. Mduduzi Ndhlovu, was the first one to find a job and he has been working at HubSpot HQ in Dublin since 1 year. 


If you haven’t heard of it; LevelUp aims to provide focused training and help in connecting ambitious professionals from the asylum seeking communities in Europe with tech employers. This is a not for profit, industry-led initiative managed by Zartis in partnership with the Code Institute.


We had a few questions for Mduduzi regarding his experiences in LevelUp and in the job. Have a look! 


How did you hear about and get involved with LevelUp – do you remember?

– From a friend who happened to know how much I love computers, so he sent me a WhatsApp link about the LevelUp programme. Honestly, when you guys announced, the word spread pretty quickly in many direct provision centers.


What was the process of selection like?

– If I can still remember, I had to send in my CV and motivation letter stating why I should be considered for the program. Also had a phone interview going through what I had written on my CV. For me, it was refreshing due to the fact that, LevelUp team seemed honored to have us even just apply, there was a distinct level of respect and joyfulness towards me.


What was your first impression of the programme and of the coding education? 

– I was really impressed, everything I had always wanted to know was in the course. Some topics like ‘Django, Flask’ I was already curious about and a few others I had to do a bit of research on. I had never heard of them before but quickly I understood how it would work together. I understood at the basic level how the ‘frontend’ side of things worked but ‘backend’ I had no clue. This got me eager to know more, which made it easy to sometimes sit for hours in front of the computer, learning.


How did they provide support, considering you were new to coding?

– LevelUp offered laptops to those who did not have. We had a point of contact at all times to make inquiries and they also provided us mentors from their own network. The Code institute also offered dedicated online mentors, there was the student care if your had any issues and tonnes of channels on Slack which cover every topic or question.


Can you give us a recap of what languages / skills you learned in the Code Institute?

  Code institute offered the following modules

– HTML fundamentals giving a basic understanding of how websites work and  are structured.

– CSS fundamentals teaching how to style and modify html elements.

– User Centric Frontend development focused on developing websites centred in user experience.

– JavaScript and interactive frontend development   (This was a real eye opener for me) – focus on how to develop truly interactive web applications with the help of external APIs.

– Python fundamentals how it be can be used in web development and dived into the backend side of web development in the ‘Data Centric Development’ module.

– Django ties everything you learnt in the course and help understand how to build Full Stack Web Applications using Django.


Did the education open any doors for your career and what are you doing now? 

– Yes it did, I was offered a 6 month internship at HubSpot and which is extended to the end of the year. 


And how do you find working in an IT company in Dublin? 

– First it was really intimidating, but gradually I got a hang of it. HubSpot is an amazing company and the work culture there deserves  a huge praise. Lots of really smart people there, willing to help in any way they can. I have learnt a whole lot from them. I am grateful to have the opportunity to learn from some of the best and it is all thanks to the LevelUp programme.


Any words for people joining LevelUp this year?

– Its okay to feel overwhelmed and sometimes think I cannot do this, but if there is one thing you can’t do, that is to quit once you have started. If you really want to learn and are passionate to know how it all works, put in the time required. If you don’t understand, ask. There are lots of channels to get help, there are no ‘stupid questions’ when you are learning. You don’t have to be the smartest or best in Maths like so many think, but you do have to put in the work. 


Ohh by the way, a hint: You don’t have to memorise every bit of syntax but just have the idea of what you want to do…. then just ‘Stack-overflow’ it :D. Been told again and again this takes practice and it is just a memory muscle you need to exercise; it will get better with time!


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