My Tech Journey from Zero to Now

· The Genesis

2020! Two Nations with Weapons of Mutually Assured Destruction, singing war songs on the very first day of the year; if I were superstitious, I would have said that was a bad omen but maybe I was wrong not to be, because the Year 2020 had enough problems to crumble the World and it actually did.

Covid-19 Virus! What’s this again? The year was not going great, every month seemed to have it’s own bad news or event and the Month of March, 2020 would be the Genesis of events that probably changed my life. The deadly Covid-19 virus which started the previous year, was taking the world by storm and spreading fast. Has Thanos really snapped his fingers?

Consequently, lockdown was imminent and came into full effect in the month of March. I had just completed my undergraduate studies as a Geologist from the prestigious University of Nigeria and was eager to go take on the World heads on. It also my service year and I was still in camp when the Lockdown was announced and I had to rush back home to avoid being stranded by the lockdown. The Lockdown would prove to be one of the key catalysts to my switch into the world of tech.

· An Idle Mind Is The Devil’s Workshop

Boredom! With ample time, literally nothing to do and nowhere to go; I had no other option than to keep myself busy, so I began doing courses on MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses). In the Month of April,2020, I did a course on the use of advanced Microsoft Excel functionalities, turned out pretty cool when built an interactive Workbook for Geologic Sieve Analysis. This took me two weeks of intensive and dedicated learning and practice all thanks to the ample time due to Lockdown. I felt pretty good that I could do something that productive within a short time and I became hungry for more.

Data Science quickly caught my attention and I began to take courses on IBM Digital Nation Platform. Also, I picked up interest in HTML and CSS. Around the month of September, the lockdown was gradually easing and I returned back to National Service, with about six Months left. The ripple effects of the Covid-19 cut across all socio-economic strata. Extending my career as a geologist which was already handicapped by the poor polity of the country, was given a bigger blow during this period, a decision about the next phase of my life had to be made and quickly.

The remaining months of my service year provided me a time span to setup a premeditated but deliberate plan. I had made a decision that I will be going into tech, I began more intensive learning on HTML and CSS. More luckily for me, the work at my PPA (Primary Place of Assignment) was not time intensive and it put me in a sweet spot to accelerate my learning.

· Mission Impossible?

Doubts! In the space of 6 months of my remaining Service Year, I had planned to learn HTML, CSS and Vanilla JavaScript. At first, learning JavaScript was overwhelming, I also had another dilemma; I was still an aspiring Geologist and the relevance of acquiring more technical skills to boost my career as a Geoscientist could not be emphasis in the span of this article.

So, yes! I was a “doubting Thomas”, the alien concepts of Computer Programming wasn’t helping either. I was struggling to get a grasp of anything and it seemed and at some point I began even making an array of business plans and alternatives. I even considered playing football professionally, who does that in Nigeria? The fear of the unknown was that bad.

Fortunately, I scaled through this phase and as at January, 2021; I was ready to play around with JavaScript. By March 2021, I was done with National Service and it was officially game on. I had built a few web pages, learnt some basic React, Bootstrap and jQuery but one project changed my orientation about software development, a simple Calculator web app. It did not take me long to realize that more work had to be done on my understanding of Data Structures and Algorithm. I did algorithm challenges on platforms like HackerRank and soon began to get better with building logic to solve problems. My orientation and scope about software development became wider and that made me to begin building projects other than just webpages. I learnt about the use of Git, GitHub, API and some other implementations as well as concepts involving Frontend Development.

Experience was needed at this point because I did not know what next to do or how to restructure my learning pathway. I began to feel like a headless chicken left to run around, so I asked for advice and help from a few friends who were into IT. It was time to get an internship, so I began searching and applying for internship roles. Meanwhile I had to keep chasing my career as a Geoscientist and other opportunities. This was the toughest stage for me as it became difficult and exhaustive.

· Reward for Passion…

Not Bet9ja! I applied for an array of internships, I was rejected a lot of times and I took note of the requirements that were my shortcomings. “Rome was not built in one day”, so I kept learning and perfecting the little I know. A collaboration between Zuri and Ingressive For Good was targeted at accommodating tech enthusiast as myself, I got in. It was remote and mostly project-based. I kept learning and kept applying for other internships.

Fast forward to June 2021, I got an internship at Genesys TechHub where I am currently learning C# and .Net Core under the BEZAO training (Between Zero and One). This is a massive opportunity as it not only provides a much needed experience as well as exposure but also a very comfortable position to learn as all the resources I was initially lacking or had limited access to, is made available at my disposal and to use at my Will.

· Shortcomings and Lessons Learnt

It is not all Love and Light, challenges and obstacles were expected. I also had shortcomings that decelerated my progress, thankfully it didn’t stop it. At the initial stage of learning, I procrastinated a lot. This was one bad habit I had to drop to progress. I also had self-doubts, coming from a totally different intellectual background; I had little or no knowledge about the fundamentals and whenever I came across a strange concept, I would be perplexed and discouraged to keep learning, this was another error I had to debug from my head.

A lot of discouragement came from some friends and family (they meant well though), most of them had thought that a career switch at that time was a very risky affair and rather put in efforts in other things. I was able to keep going because I enjoy building things, innovation and doing things differently, I want to do what I enjoy doing and I enjoy the “toxic relationship” with debugging console errors, sitting in on spot for hours, shouting “WTF”, and whatnot. The zeal kept me going.

Mentorship and collaboration played a crucial role in my growth, things got easier quickly when I began seeking advice and suggestions from Experienced Software developers as well as fellow learners. In fact, I would say that most opportunities and growth can be attributed to the relationship I had with fellow newbies. Get out there and socialize.

Lastly, if I could go back in time. I would advice myself to practice effective Time Management, strike a balance between work and play; maybe add more weight on work if you are in beginner stages like me but you get my point.

· What next?

First of all, let me briefly introduce myself; I should have done this earlier…I know! I know! I am Kennedy Onyekachi Jonah Ugwu, do not ask about the backstory of how I took the name Jonah. I am Nigerian, a Geologist and tech enthusiast; supports Arsenal Football Club, a slim daddy, and a fun guy mostly.

Now that we clear on who I am, what next? I love learning, I enjoy developing projects and productivity, I want to help as much people as I can on a massive scope. Apart from accomplishing my personal goals, most of the goals I set are usually oriented in making the world a better place. Sounds cliché but that is the radical truth.

One of the personal projects I plan to build will oscillate around providing technical tools for enhancing Geoscientific Research and Study. I also have interest in in Culture and providing business solutions. I will keep learn and keep growing, as well as be able to give back whatever little to as many people as I can.