Journey in Tech: Tough times don't last, tough people do
The world looks at the people in tech as the solution providers. What they don't really understand are the efforts and challenges faced to rise to that status. I'll be sharing some of my challenges in this article and how I delt with them.
I used this laptop while in university; I was very annoyed and irritated when I received it during the 3rd semester. It had a 40GB hard disk size, 1GB RAM, the processor, battery life, speed and just about everything was awful. After a while, I got over it. I decided to use the laptop to its maximum capacity. Every semester, I would uninstall the IDE for the previous language learned to give room to install a new one and replace the battery every year. I still don't understand how Visual Studio survived on it.
Despite the hell I faced with this laptop, my programming and general academic activities were not distorted. Sure, it hindered progress because it couldn't handle some things I wanted to explore deeply, I made the best use of what I had and came out with good grades. (Read more about this here).
Fast-forwarding to months after graduation, I got a better laptop because the one in the picture suddenly shutdown (You don't understand the joy that struck me when it happened). Now I look back and wonder how I survived with that crapy old Dell. But it taught me patience and perseverance. I can't go back to that laptop though.
- The output of anything is more dependent on the person behind the machine than the machine itself.
People in tech think this phrase is limited to them. They haven't met a newly trained make-up artist go for his/her first gig.
I was one of the few people in my class (back in uni) that really enjoyed programming. I was confident I knew things but at the same time, I didn't know a lot. I remember when I started learning Android development, I quickly updated my resume and LinkedIn skillset to include it. Twice I was asked about my level of competence in that skill but I couldn't defend it.
In 2019/20, I challenged myself to learn and practice more. I got exposed to people in the tech space and working in teams shed more light on best practices. During my first team project, I used a fake it till you make it approach. I also got a mentor.
Imposter syndrome makes you doubt yourself but that doubt should translate into growing your skills.
- Start believing in yourself.
- Practise makes perfect.
- Ask questions in doubt and follow the right people.
Too many technologies to keep up with
Keeping up with the constant evolution in tech is not easy; it's not mandatory to pick up every new tool released but having knowledge of various tools gives you flexibility in what you can do and command.
In university, I explored
Visual Basic -> C -> C++ -> Python -> C# -> HTML, CSS & JS -> PHP -> Java. I mainly used them to solve arithmetic problem but I took a deeper dive into the last 3 technologies.
After university, I started exploring Android, NodeJS and TypeScript. There's so much more I want to learn; learning gets exhausting. I've enrolled in many courses on Udemy, Coursera, Datacamp, Pluralsight, edX, API Academy and maybe a few more that I don't even remember. When I enrolled, I was "saving them for a rainy day" but I will never finish them.
The key thing is planning. I know I can't possibly learn 5 new technologies while trying to maintain a social life and working full-time in a short period. I don't want to be a mad scientist and lose my mind. I plan my learning path so as to maximise effort and get the best out of the learning process.
- The road to your destination is never straightforward.
- Seek help if you're stuck.
- Working in a team is a great way to learn.
- Plan your learning path and be realistic about the time you have.
You don't want to know how many jobs I've applied to and got rejected from since I graduated from the university because they're many. The majority were outright rejections, "you do not qualify", no response from some, didn't pass the tests or didn't get to the final stage for others. You'd think just finishing from schools means you're still "hot and fresh" and so you'll be rushed. Sadly, this doesn't favour every graduate.
Looking back, I realised that I didn't have enough knowledge base (but I was a fresh graduate. Was I supposed to have 10 years of experience?). I decided to be more purposeful about what I wanted and targetted them. I started blogging as another way to show my technical competence and got involved in communities where I met people who can vouch for me.
- Build your skill and your network.
- Be specific about where you want to be and work towards it.
All the things I faced made me stronger and more confident. I wouldn't change anything because my challenges paved a way for me to see clearly what I want. If carbon has to be subjected to intense pressure, temperature and other factors to produce the beautiful diamond that you see today, humans as well have to go through a refining process to become the best versions of themselves.