My 2018 Review —The ugly, the bad, and eventually, the good.
“From coding passively for eight out of twelve months to ‘losing’ an internship, regaining confidence, conquering procrastination and how persistence got me my first developer job.”
I spent the greater part of 2018 being relatively inactive coding-wise. I had little (read: nothing) to show for the first eight months, schoolwork was time-consuming and energy-sapping; striking a balance was a constant struggle and making out time for my personal learning was challenging. I wasn’t able to do much until September. After letting eight months go to waste, I was keen on maximizing the last quarter of the year.
So, I figured getting an internship wouldn’t be a bad idea as I’d get hands-on training, exposure and the positive impacts the pressure in a proper IT firm would have on me (my self-motivation was alarmingly declining and I really needed a push). I intimated a mentor of mine about it and he promised to get back to me. The following day, he told me to get prepared as I’d be coming to his workplace the following Monday. At this point I was already having feelings of inadequacy; Microsoft technologies were heavily used at his workplace and I was more than rusty with my first language — C#. I told him about my fears and doubts but he discarded them by reassuring me of his belief in my potentials, whether he just said that to calm my nerves or he really meant it (which I knew he did), it worked like magic! So, after doing a little review; with renewed confidence, calmed nerves (okay, maybe I was still a bit tensed) and polished self-esteem, I set out the following Monday with high hopes (and a heartbeat rate of close to 100 per millisecond…lol). Landing the internship was almost certain, or so I thought.
I showed up at his workplace only to be met with disappointment; his boss who would assess me wasn’t around and wouldn’t be for the next few days. When I eventually met him, he broke the news I wasn’t looking forward to hearing — there was no space to accommodate an intern in the firm. Reason: the most valuable developer there (my mentor of course! 😉) was going on vacation the following week and he couldn’t entrust me to anybody else. As lame as the excuse sounded to me, I wanted to appeal to him to just grant me access to Wi-Fi and power as those were just the things I really needed; but I refrained from doing so as I could discern that he had already concluded in his mind, besides, this was a formal setting. So, from leaving home with high hopes to feeling dejected hours later; rejection sucked!
It was only normal to feel dejected at the end of the day, but I decided to reflect on what I witnessed that day and draw out lessons from them. Their day started with each developer being asked about: updates on what they’ve been working on, their plan for the day, the week, to give deadlines for the completion of tasks assigned to them and (interestingly) what they’ve been up to in their free time. This opened my eyes to how serious things are in the real world of software development and that I needed to find that inner drive in me again as I still had much to learn.
…and eventually, the good
At this point, I already gave up on getting an internship. I really needed to regain my confidence, reignite my passion and have a sense of accomplishment once again. So, I found a nearby public library with stable power while I took care of my internet data expenses. With a determined spirit, a loyal laptop and rolled sleeves, I decided to check a long overdue task off my to-do list — learning to use Git and GitHub. After I became familiar with the basics, I was crossed with myself that it took me that long to start using source code versioning tools.
The results of conquering this overly procrastinated task was almost instant as I got contacted by a developer I worked with earlier this year to join his team of developers to build a side project of his. And one of the requirements of the project was familiarity with any of the popular source code versioning tools. With a gradually increasing morale, I immersed myself in several projects and was soon back in high spirits.
Thinking October couldn’t be better than the previous month, I was in for a surprise! My friend who is a graphics designer sent me a mockup he had just made for the website of a digital agency that was launching soon to ask for my thoughts (apart from being his friend, I also serve as his Creative Director in my spare time…lol). I gave my thoughts on it, he reworked the UI and resent it to me.
In the spirit of immersing myself as much as I could in projects, I took it upon myself to make a prototype of the website overnight and by daybreak I sent him a link to a live demo of the website. Boy did he like it! He was so impressed that he forwarded it to the owner of the soon-to-launch agency who was a senior developer himself before telling me. The owner requested my contact and before long got in touch with me, told me how much he loved my works and how he strongly believed I had great potentials (the smile on my face at that moment was wider than the equator) and crowned it all with saying that he would like to have me onboard his agency. I was elated!
The only disadvantage, however, was that our locations were far apart and I’d have to work remotely. Did I hear someone mention GitHub? Oh yes, that was an essential requirement in order for me to work remotely. Thank goodness I conquered my procrastination of learning how to use it when I did. Truth be told, working on live projects has been really tasking as I am new to the real world of software development. Learning to work with deadlines has been difficult as well. But of course, this new experience does come with lots of positives as the pressure is making me progress faster than I realise.
While rounding off writing this article, I thought to myself how long I’d keep hiding under the ‘beginner’ shade; wanting to play it safe, not wanting challenges to be thrown at me and thereby limiting myself and restraining my progress. I wondered how long it would take me to admit that I was no longer a newbie. With my new job role making me transition from frontend development to backend and ultimately — full-stack, I dared to admit that I was no longer a beginner. So, what am I? — A world-class developer in the making!
I had an awful first eight months but my judicious use of the last quarter made up for it. Although my coding this year started on an ugly note and then became bad, it eventually ended up being good. Digital Marketing and Computer Networking have also piqued my interest this month and I’m keen on feeding the interest even more. Going forward, I can’t help but anticipate what more I’ll achieve and much more progress to make.