Maryam A. Lawal and Caleb Eke are students with the ‘MSc. Information Systems with Computing’ programme at DBS. They were chosen as volunteers for the 2019 Web Summit in Lisbon. Web Summit is an annual technology conference, considered the largest tech event in the world where attendee tickets start from €1,500 and the crème de la crème in tech gather to network and exchange ideas. Volunteering at this event is a fantastic opportunity for anyone looking to break into the industry and rub shoulders with industry leaders.
We caught up with Maryam and Caleb to hear more on how they got involved, what they will be doing there and their plans for the future. Maryam and Caleb are both Masters students who are currently finished with classes and working on their dissertations.
Maryam has a background in Computer Science, graduating with honours from her home university in Nigeria. She came to DBS to obtain her Master’s Degree. It was a chance encounter at an IT meet-up that steered her towards the opportunity of a lifetime. Admittedly she says she was unfamiliar with ‘Web Summit’ but she actively engages in networking opportunities whereupon a stranger informed her on the event and directed her to the volunteer applications.
Paying forward the goodwill; she shared the information and link with classmate Caleb and their departmental group, “but fortunately it was just the two of us who registered” she jokes.
They applied via the website and patiently awaited a response. Web Summit assessed their application on the basis of background, qualifications and experiences. After qualifying these stages they were invited to work as volunteers. The event manager then contacted them and shared the event brief and itinerary.
Caleb completed his degree in electrical engineering. Following graduation he worked with Chinese Tech giant; Huawei. The experience sparked a newfound enthusiasm in the technology industry “and so I decided to move into IT even though I have a background in engineering” he recalls.
One thing they share in common is the desire to get involved in volunteering and networking. “I’ve always had an interest in volunteering; I volunteered for different organisations before including the John Maxwell team, the Euro 2020 games with the FAI… and so when this came about I was very interested especially because it is in Lisbon” he tells, adding that he is a Cristiano Ronaldo fan and hopes to visit the museum dedicated to the footballer whilst in Portugal.
The pair will travel for a ten-day stay. They have the choice to work full-time for two days or part-time for three days. The rest of the time they are free to do as they please and attend any events they wish; with complimentary event tickets awarded to volunteers.
Maryam will join the Operations Team for her volunteer experience whereas Caleb will join the Airport Team assisting with registrations and scanning.
When asked how they feel to be going to an event where the ‘best of the best in Silicon Valley are going to be’ Maryam responds by saying “that’s the reason why we are so eager to go. I believe it’s going to open great opportunities for us, and we can always seize that opportunity and connection as well.”
Caleb admits ‘I have a particular interest in networking’ and has his eyes set on Chuck Robins, CEO of Cisco (at the height of the dot-com bubble, Cisco became the most valuable company in the world, with a market capitalization of more than $500 billion).
“I’m looking forward to Microsoft” Maryam chimes in, “I have a passion for IT, I’ve always wanted to work as a software developer so I’ve always been trying to make a connection or network with those people in IT and I really wish I could work for Microsoft or Google - those big IT firms… and I believe I could probably get what I want with this opportunity; if I really use it very well.”
How big a deal is Web Summit? Well, from just becoming volunteers Caleb says he has noticed the impact – “I have had accommodation teams pitching me on LinkedIn to say ‘You’re coming to stay in Lisbon? Would you like to stay with our accommodation?’
“The residents in Lisbon are very eager to welcome people coming in”, Caleb explains giving an example of their trip to the embassy to sort out a visa (as they are non-EU students). “We went to the embassy and when they heard we were going to the web summit they made sure that our visas got sorted quickly."
Both students signed up to volunteer full-time for two days (eight hours a day). However, these two days needn’t necessarily fall within the live event timeline. Caleb will work with the airport team meaning his start date is pushed forward (as everyone arrives before the event officially kicks off). Lucky for him as he will only work one day of the official event and enjoy all the benefits for the rest of the duration of Web Summit 2019.
Best of luck Maryam and Caleb – GO #TeamDBS #RealiseYourAmbitions