My name is Cebisa Peter, and I joined RLabs while going through lots of changes in my life. I was a first-time mother to a 3-month-old and mourning my father who passed away a week before my son’s birth. I don’t think I had ever been at my lowest. My partner lost his job and I lost the internship that I was doing because of complications with my pregnancy. I was depressed. My best friends and my partner were my support system. I cried a lot, but ultimately, I knew that there was a woman that I wanted to become and it would be very disappointing if I had given up or acted on the thoughts about ending it all. I now have a beautiful son whom I would love to experience the world with and guide him to never give up.

In 2019, I worked at the Artscape in the city. I was a technical intern, I worked with lighting, I did stage management, and sound. I learned a lot about how theatre has evolved in technology and was taken aback by how you can control the movement of lights, change their colours and create magic just by using the software. That is when I realised the power of technology. I wanted to become part of the people who came up with these ideas that make life simpler and interesting. I then started watching tutorials about programming. I saw that there is a huge market for people with digital skills and I wanted to learn more, so I started teaching myself HTML and CSS. I got hooked and I wanted to learn more so I moved on to learning JavaScript. I wanted to be more consistent and surround myself with people who want to develop themselves in this field as well because no one in my circle understood what it was that I was doing. I decided that this is the permanent career that I would be pursuing.

Cebisa Peter

In 2020, I saw an advert on Facebook for digital work at RLabs and I applied. I was a bit uncomfortable with the thought of looking at code in a text editor for the rest of my life because I’m a creative and colourful person but I’ve never limited my intellectual capacity. Since joining RLabs, I have been able to use my creativity and see where it would fit in and which specialisation field would allow me to be creative within the tech space.

I’ve learnt so much in such a short period. I learned how to create a presentation on Google Slides, how to use low/no-code platforms to create an app as well as applying Design Thinking while creating. I learnt how to plan for projects when in a team and planning a schedule using Google Calendar. I think all of these things are great tools for whether I start my own business or become a full-time employee.

One of the challenges I have faced in the workplace was spending long hours trying to solve a problem. It would slow down my pace. My solution was to only spend 20-30 minutes trying to solve it by myself and if I don’t find a solution, I will ask for help because being stuck on one thing and hitting a brick wall can demotivate you.

So far it’s been beyond what I imagined. I love the fact that I am working with people who come from a similar environment as myself because you all work to lift each other because you have similar struggles. It’s nice to be part of a group of people who want to make a positive change in their communities. I also appreciate that RLabs is a practical environment, we work on real projects and get the freedom to use our creativity as well as solving problems.

We are currently working on two apps and an advert for a client. The brief was straightforward, we had to create an app that lists non-alcoholic beverages that a user can purchase from Comprah. I wanted something that would make our apps stand out, I did some research on individual brands and realised that a lot of them have great background stories and I wanted to incorporate this in our app and I can confidently say that what makes our app stand out is that we are not only selling non-alcoholic wine, we are selling a lifestyle. I enjoy the work that I do and it challenges me to apply myself.

My highlights are; creating my app which serves as a directory for a free online course, it’s called OF-Course. I also got to work in a team where I was chosen to lead. We created two apps and an amazing advert for Comprah. My low light is that I got this opportunity during Covid-19 and I can’t meet my colleagues in person.

This is not my first time earning an income, but I am grateful that I can pay the municipal bill on my Mother’s house and buy food for our household.

I’m so grateful because my son has a happier mother who gets to do what she loves. My friends and family are very proud of the fact that I am dusting myself off and trying again.

To everyone interested in the progression of our society and the changes happening, it’s clear that COVID-19 has pushed the use of technology in South Africa further than it would have been had there been no virus, some shops don’t have cashiers, they use self-pay systems which indicates the need for software skills. People are losing their jobs unless they can work from home and I am grateful that I am among those that are still able to work.

To the youth out there; do not give up, preparation + opportunity = success.

The Skills Accelerator is a proudly RLabs initiative that is made possible thanks to the support of JPMorgan Chase.

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