Interview with an Alumni of Hotels.NG Internship

Editor Note: Hotels.NG is known to be a premier site for booking hotel reservations that has been built mainly using its Software-as-a-Service rather than a physical model but over the past few years, it has started giving back to the tech-ecosystem by running a remote internship program that lasts for 3 months in which yearning minds are put in work-like conditions and environment offering matching stipends and data allocation at tasks completions that varies based on said task complexity. 

The minds such as Fisayo Afolayan, Faith Dike of Find-Worka and Stephen AfamO of Africa’s Talking passed through the Internship and stayed the course.

On the 7th of April 2018, Mark Essien CEO of announced on Twitter the commencement of the 4th Edition Internship at Hotels.NG.

The HNG Internship described as the biggest remote software development internship in Africa, targeted at new and junior-level developers who wish to advance rapidly in their software development career.

The 3-month programme organised by debuted in 2016 as an Idea conceived from both Neo Ighodaro and Mark Essien, and since then it has had over 4500 participants sign up and has seen hundreds of interns pass through. Last year, the programme partnered with the Akwa Ibom state government with local resources provided for indigenes to facilitate their learning. It also had other participants join remotely from all over Nigeria and had the largest numbers of interns pass out yet and with support from Flutterwave all the way through.

This year, Hotels.NG Internship is working with Figma Design, Oracle and Bluechip Technologies to help participants learn to use technologies such as GIT, Docker, PHP, Continuous Integration, and Figma (for User Interface and User Experience design. It is also open to participants from all over Africa to provide more people with the opportunity to learn and grow.

Its 4th Edition in 2 years, 1000s of Nigerian have partaken in each edition and only a handful remain through to the end. In its first edition, there we just 15 people who finished the Internship programme but only Three were hired by Hotels.NG and in the word of Mark Essien

We ended up hiring three — Stephen Afam-Osmene (who I found out along the way started university at 14), Gideon Onwuka (a quiet guy who hardly said anything, but always was first in completing the tasks), and Fisayo Afolayan (one of the few guys that was as good on the front-end as on the backend).

Fisayo Afolayan — Lead of the Product Team for Hotels.NG was one of those who made it through the Initial Edition.

How did you start working at Hotels.NG?

Well, quite simple actually. I was part of the first remote internship set, I completed it, and I believe we were about 170 that started it back then in 2016. 3 of us were hired, Stephen Afamo, Gideon Onwuka and I.

How did you become a Team Lead in a short amount of time?

I constantly did things that I couldn’t do. This is sort of my motto to constantly do things I can’t do. I don’t claim to be the best, but I push myself to do those things that scare me.

Well now, taking a trip back. How did it all start?

I had a full-time job in Abuja. I worked as technical support staff at The American International School of Abuja ( I got paid well, It was (alot of) fun.

But, all along coding has been that thing I always did. Right from when I was still in school, I attended Babcock University. All my free time at my former job, I was always coding. Coding started affecting my main job.
You know when your mind tells you to do something, but you refuse, that was what happened to me. Eventually, I quit my job.

Moved down to Lagos in pursuit of a tech company to join. As at that time, the tech scene in Abuja was really not in existence. Around the time I got to Lagos, I applied to did an interview and was invited to join the remote internship. It wasn’t an easy transition I must say. I went broke, really broke. I survived on the weekly stipends received from the remote internship

How was it working remotely and learning on the job?

It wasn’t funny at all. Keep in mind that PHCN and Network/data providers will deliberately decide to ruin everything for you. But I didn’t let that stop me.
I had no backup plan, the plan was to learn as fast as I can, the plan was not even to get hired.
That in mind, I moved to a friend’s house, he had constant power. I subscribed for MTN’s 10gb or 5gb, twice, sometimes 3 times in a week.

I cleared out all the excuses and I had awesome folks interning with me. During my set, folks would use TeamViewer to help others out. just so they learn, achieve their task and get paid.

I also had fun along the way

Fisayo Afolayan

What can you say to the participants of HNGInternship 4.0?

Don’t give up, there will always be a ceiling. What differentiates those that make it in life vs those that don’t is that little push.
I say this every time “Leave your comfort zone”.
It’s like a box, you feel you can’t get out of it, or can’t do more, and every time you try reaching out of the box, you feel, no, I can’t do it. It wasn’t meant for me, then who was it meant for?
Every time that ceiling comes, push it away with a step, take a bold step and say, not today ceiling. I’m going to do this thing I can’t do and gradually, that thing you said you can’t do will gradually fade away.
In the end, as a developer, all you need is the experience. the difference between a senior developer and junior developer is the experience. And you get that experience by pushing yourself to do that thing you can’t do.


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