Code for Australia: The Fellowship experience with Ezekiel Kigbo

I got a chance to meet up with one of our Fellows this morning, Ezekiel Kigbo, to discuss how he became a Fellow, and his experience working in the exciting and innovative Fellowship program. Ezekiel provided us with some very interesting insights into what to expect as a Fellow for the Fellowship program.

I asked Ezekiel how he came to work at Code for Australia, to which he explained that after working as a developer at the library in La Trobe University for about four years, he wanted a change of scenery and wanted something that could really move him forward with his career. With a background in computer science, Ezekiel wanted to apply his skills in an industry focused on community well-being projects, and that’s when he overheard an opportunity for the Fellowship program over the radio presented by one of our CfA representatives. Just like that, a moment of serendipity, Ezekiel found the opportunity he was looking for, and filled out the online application for the Fellowship program.

After successfully securing a face-to-face interview with the founders of CfA, we were happy to hear that Kigbo was just as committed to developing innovative ways of improving the well-being of society as we were, and with that, placed him in the Neighbourhood Justice Centre (NJC) for the Magistrate Court for the City of Yarra where he could work towards doing just that.

Ezekiel commenced his Fellowship at the NJC in August, where he would commit himself to engaging the community, designing innovative development prototypes to solve community problems; specifically — alternatives to circumstances of civil litigation, for the following 12 months.

Ezekiel admitted that he was surprised that much of the work in the early stage of the Fellowship involved communication, not with just the community, but with department associates and stakeholders, as opposed to diving straight into technology development. Though, Ezekiel stated that in retrospect, he could understand and appreciate why this was the case, and would have dedicated more of his time towards communicating and engaging associates, than on tech developing if he had known earlier. Ezekiel explained that the stress of pitching tech designs to people with no context is something that can be avoided simply by networking with them earlier, not just to provide context, but to also to gain trust which is very important in his field of work.

When I asked Ezekiel about any advice for potential future candidates for the Fellowship program, he’s answer was short and simple, “do it.” He explained that if you are personally passionate about community work, then definitely apply for the Fellowship, but stressed that strong interpersonal skills, patience, and excellent time management skills are an absolute must in the program. Surprisingly, Ezekiel explained that tech knowledge isn’t an absolute requirement, though, at the very least, basic knowledge, would be helpful. Creative and critical thinking is required of Fellows in the program, more so than tech-savvy minds.

Ezekiel is currently grinding away, working on a user research report for the NCJ, and we look forward to hearing more from him in the next few months.