Google Africa Developer Scholarships: A learner turned mentor's review

Google Africa Developer Scholarships: A learner turned mentor's review

Google Africa Developer Scholarship is a program supported by Grow with Google, Andela, and Pluralsight. The program is aimed at supporting African developers through training and certification in the fields of Android, Web and Google Cloud. The program gives participants access to curated courses on Pluralsight pertaining to their specialization, participants can also assess their skills and shortcoming using Pluralsight's Skill IQ tests and they also get support and mentorship provided through Andela Learning Community. The cherry on top is if participants qualify to the final phase, they also get free certification grants to write a Google Certification for their chosen specialization. Did I mention all of this is for free 🤯, I know 😅.

Now, unfortunately, applicants for this year have already been closed, with the first phase almost coming to a wrap. I, however, hope this guide will be helpful to those currently enrolled and those who wish to apply for upcoming programs.

Program Structure

The program is divided into 5 phases with a reduced number of participants proceeding to each new phase. The final phase is the certification phase where students will be given certification grants for their chosen specialization, passing this means you become a Google Certified Somebody 😎.

The first phase is the application phase where over 60 000 participants are chosen to take part in the program. It is very easy to get accepted into the program as it simply involves applying and engaging with at-least 2 hours of Pluralsight content before the cut off deadline. After getting accepted you will become part of the Andela Learning Community (ALC) where you will join a slack channel full of like-minded developers, be assigned a mentor and will regularly participate in different engagement sessions of your specialization.

The 2nd phase is Learning Phase 1 which takes place over 6 weeks, where you'll have to engagement with at-least 10 hours of Pluralsight content and will have to take a Skill IQ test to show your proficiency. From the initial phase, about half the participants will proceed to the next round based on the engagement with course content and the skill IQ score. Those who proceed to Learning Phase 2 will be granted access to even more content on Pluralsight and will have to repeat the process, engaging with more content and retaking the skills IQ score.

The next phase will be the project phase, where students will be required to undertake a given project or two depending on the specialization. Students are given a time frame of 3 weeks to study up and attempt the given project challenge. From the 6 000 which qualify to the project phase only 1 000 will be selected to proceed to the Certification phase. The lucky ( and hardworking) 1 000 get exam vouchers to take Google certification exams. So from over 60 000 participants, only 1 000 will get certified, daunting right ? Don't worry, keep reading and I'll share my tricks of how I managed to proceed to the final round and become a Google Certified Android Associate Developer😎.

Getting Certified

The Google Africa Developer Scholarship Program is developed to be beginner-friendly, it doesn't focus only on skills but it rewards handwork and effort. The easiest and most full-proof way to advance to the certification phase is through putting in the work, watch the recommended content, do the exercises and even practice on your own. After taking the skills IQ test, Pluralsight will assign you a score and also recommend areas in which you are lacking, this will be your secret weapon. Watch content to improve on this weak-spots and practice on them regularly until you feel comfortable enough to retake the test.

The program also rewards engagement within the community so make sure you actively engaging with your peers and mentors. Ask questions whenever you're having challenges, it is highly likely someone has already experienced the same issues you are facing, especially your mentors who have industry experience. Also, answer questions where you can and share articles and content you find helpful to your peers. In as much as the program includes elimination, it is not a competition, you lose nothing by helping the next person. That person may be a future workmate. Remember that the end goal for the program is not just certification but upskilling African developers, and whether you get certified or not the experience from the program is invaluable.

Thoughts and Improvements

So, I'm very much in support of this effort to support and up-skill African developers and commend Andela, Google and Pluralsight for their efforts. I would definitely 100% recommend this program to anyone wishing to better themselves as a developer, it is beginner-friendly and the community is very engaging and are always there when you're facing a problem.

That said, I however feel, there are areas Andela can address towards managing the program. For my cycle 2019/2020, there were some program delays, granted some were due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it however had the downside of putting a lot of participants off. Some ended up getting their exam vouchers in April/May even though vouchers were supposed to be disbursed in January, which was very stressful for some individuals as it's hard to continually study for 4/5 months for a single exam.

Another issue I had was with non-active mentors, I was added to a peer learning group which had a mentor who was not active and did not respond to message or questions. To help address this problem, this year I am participating as a mentor and I'm glad to note Andela has stepped up efforts to root out non-performing mentors. For example, they have already found learning groups where learners were complaining about low engagement and added additional mentors. I am proudly now mentoring two groups, and the experience has been amazing. I am hoping all my mentees manage to proceed to the certification phase🤞.

All in all, I am grateful for the opportunity to take part in this awesome program and I am looking forward to using my skills for good.