It is a general expectation that for one to become a software developer, one has to undergo a formal training. While this may be true, it is not necessary a must for everyone. One can transform himself/herself to a software developer without sitting in any university or college class. Today I wish to take you through my journey of becoming a software developer. This may also apply to you if only you have the resolve.
How My Journey Started
After my high school education, I joined university to undertake bachelor of education arts with my teaching subjects being Swahili and Geography. Nothing at all to do with ICT or anywhere near computer science as you may expect. As matter of fact, I had no idea that computer studies was anything that could be anywhere within my reach. Those days, computers were rare and the only accessible to those undertaking technology and information science. For the rest of us, we could only see them through the windows as we passed by to attend our art based lectures.
Friends will always remain valuable components in our lives. This is a fact only well known to me. One evening after a busy day of attending lectures – with some bouncing anyway, my friend Peter called me aside. Consequently I left the hilarious company of fellow students with whom we were cracking jokes and sharing funny experiences. While playing the elder brother at that moment, Peter advised me to visit the Technology department the following day. He vividly narrated his one day experience in the computer room with students undertaking computer science. That he came across computers running some interesting programs where – according to him, they could call out his name. Alas! Exciting as his story was, I promised to do as he wished but I never did it.
Three days down the line, he quarreled me and that is when I obliged. That marked the start of my Journey as software Developer.
First Day Experience
If anyone ever tells you that good things come easy, then he is a liar. No wonder they say, when a deal is too god, always think twice. My first day’s experience at the technology lab (as it was called those days) was not good at all. Unlike my friend Peter who received a ward welcome from his former high school friend – Magochi, I turned out to be unwelcome stranger. When I approached the mean looking students asking for assistance on how to operate a computer, they gave me a cold look. At once I realized that I was navigating unfamiliar territory. The thought of going back to Peter with a story that I did not get anything gave me the momentum to push harder. To cut a long story short, one guy showed me how to type a command for the WordPerfect path. He then handed me the keyboard and left.
My First Computer Document
Those days, that is before Windows 95, things were not as easy as it is today with operating a computer. In front of me was DOS window where I painfully typed a letter – ostensibly to a girl I wanted to impress. Instead of using the correct Print command to send it to the printer I used the Print Screen command. As a result, the output had everything that appeared on the screes. Nevertheless, I did not complain. It was the most genius thing I had done on a computer that far!
The Power of Library in My Journey
In as far as the source of information was concerned, library had no equal those days. This was long before internet stole thunder and bolted with it. Confronted by the tantalizing desire to go tech on one side and lack of helpful guidance on the other, I resolved to go it alone. The library turned out to be my only hope. I searched the University library upside down sniffing out any computer related material with minimal success. Luckily, the university bookshop started stocking cheap books from India and that is when lady luck came smiling. I spent a substantial amount of my allowance on computer books till I got confident that I knew little more. I balanced my studies in education and my ‘new found studies’ till the end of my university studies. In spite of all that, what I lacked most was the practical aspect. My head was full of theory on computers which I had no idea how it would in real situation.
I Landed a Teaching Job in ‘the Desert’
When nature wants to test you, it truly does and to the limit. A young enthusiastic and aspiring man who was waiting for this moment to crack the hard nut finds himself in the middle of the desert. Getting there was no easy deal. This was an area that could only be accessed using lorries that were ferrying livestock and foodstuffs supplies. The only way one would ‘comfortably’ travel was to cling on the top of the lorry, sit for hours on the hard metals (we called them England) and pray to God to deflect the bandits bullet away from your dehydrating body. The alternative to this was the back of a camel and risk two things: take ages to arrive or fight it out with hungry lions.
This far I believe you know where my story is headed. With such hardships, what would one prioritize, survival or innovation? Your guess is as good as mine.
In my subsequent article, I will narrate to you how I overcame the challenges and emerged even stronger. Kindly follow me as I give you part two of My Journey as software Developer.