My Year in Review — 2020
A lot happened this year. Lots of sad tales. To be honest, it’s a bit difficult to write a review about this year without being overwhelmed with all that happened. Regardless, I’m going to keep my personal sad tales out of this review and focus on how my year in tech went as I’ve always done.
In terms of activities, I think the highlights of my year was in three parts: January, Internship and December, so I guess it would make sense to arrange it same way.
The month of January started on a high note, I got a potential project with a manufacturing company through a referral by my friend and was to build them a website. I was pretty hyped. But I had to travel back home for a meeting with one of the company top execs because she "likes meeting people she wants to work with face-to-face". Lol. If only she knew what the year had in store (*laughs in Zoom*).
School was still in session at this point and exams were fast approaching, so I really wasn’t looking forward to travelling for this meeting. But my friends, supportive as always, encouraged me to make the trip. Some of them offered to pay for my trip. One of them was even up past midnight on the day of the meeting helping to polish my confidence and assuring me I was going to do well. Another sent me a video that morning on how to be in control of meetings with clients and how to effectively discuss price which was super helpful.
My meeting with the company exec and her team went well. I was relaxed and in control of the discussion. Unfortunately, the project eventually fell through due to unfavourable project timelines and a huge change in what was initially agreed on. However, I value the experience I got to have in negotiations as this was my first physical meeting with a potential client this big. The company would’ve been the biggest client in my portfolio at the time had it worked out, but it was not to be.
Last year some of my friends and I started a community development initiative with the aim of bridging the gap of technological divide. We had our first outreach last year July and towards the end of January this year we visited four government secondary schools in Ilorin, Kwara State. We had tech-infused career talks and CBT training for senior students that would be writing their UTME exams later in the year using the minimalistic CBT app we built in-house. We also had the help of some of the core team members of GDG Ilorin and Kwarabuild for the outreach.
We managed to pull our second tech outreach off amidst tests, I was incredibly proud of our team for that. In February, I had my head buried in books for exams.
While preparing for my internship, which was a requirement for my Bachelor’s degree, I had applied to several openings, informed those I thought could help with recommendations and even cold-emailed several companies. But none of them bore any fruit. So, as a last resort, I decided to hit the streets of Lagos. I made a list of companies I would love to intern at, including some I had already cold-emailed, and decided to go in person to "ask and apply" for internship openings. This was a week before the eventual lockdown in March.
So, the scouring began. I visited a couple of companies on the list in the first few days, but wasn't fruitful. Most of them had already started working from home due to the coronavirus pandemic while those that hadn't at the time weren't taking interns. Fortunately, towards the end of the week, I got an on-the-spot interview at one of the companies - a digital agency. Meanwhile, I had already applied formally for an internship opening they had but got no response.😅 I eventually got the job as a Fullstack Developer Intern (yay!🥳💃🏻).
This was my first time working in a company as a developer plus it was remote too. In the first few weeks, I felt like I was being micromanaged but soon realised I must’ve caused this with my poor communication mostly because I was used to working alone. So, I had to improve on my communication and collaboration skills which made working with my team more enjoyable.
I worked on exciting projects during my internship which cut across different sectors like Law, Health, Finance and Humanitarianism. I also had a brilliant Product Designer to work with and a Senior Developer who was always ready to lend a helping hand.
My internship ended in November and I spent the first few weeks in December battling burnout. It also became apparent almost immediately after my internship that work had shielded/distracted me from focusing on how shitty the year had been and the many sad happenings it came with. Burying myself in work used to be my way of avoiding dealing with things like these, but here I was uncheerful, unmotivated and uninterested in anything. I was in low spirits for the most part of the month.
Prior to finishing my internship, I had said I was going to dedicate my time post-internship exclusively to personal development of my skills but I just wasn't in the mood to do any work. It also didn't help that my Bachelor's degree program had been extended by a year no thanks to COVID and ASUU😑.
Then I had a discussion with one of my close friends about how I had been unproductive. I opened up to him about how I felt slightly pressured about my slow progress and how it was sucking all of the joy I used to derive from coding. While being genuinely happy for the people I know (and people I don’t know) when they shared their progress and achievements, in this low spirits I was in, it also heightened the pressure I put on myself and made me feel slight intimidation and jealousy which I was ashamed to admit.
In his responses, my friend reminded me of how well I was doing, but how the pressure I was putting on myself was doing me a disservice of not recognising it. He advised me to "remove the pressure of trying to get better and replace it with trying to have fun exploring". He was right, I started feeling stagnant and felt I wasn't making progress when I no longer enjoyed what I was doing. And when I stop having joy doing something, my productivity level drops. I unconsciously make progress when I enjoy what I do.
He also added that I could unfollow people on social media who I felt made me feel more intimidated than motivated. He stressed how I needed to stop feeling like I was racing against time to upskill while reassuring me of how much he believes in me and loves me (*wipes tears and blows nose*). Honestly, one of the things I’m grateful for and do not take for granted is having great friends that are understanding and that I feel free to be my emotional self around, vulnerable enough to share my worries without the fear of being judged.
I spent the rest of the month mostly off social media platforms, away from coding, with limited online interactions, making sure to rid myself of harmful envy, appreciating myself for my progress so far and watching movies.
One of the things I developed more interest in this year was Finance. I enjoy reading articles from entrepreneurs, founders, investors and following startup stories; and I read more of those in December. I also read the Economics, Banking and Finance in Emerging Markets book by Dr Ola Brown (Orekunrin). I had a discussion with one of my friends from school earlier this year which made me become more intentional about my financial literacy. I also started reading about financial markets and decided to test the waters by taking a swipe at stocks first.
My friends had lots of wins and progress in their careers this year which I’m absolutely happy about and proud of them for. I want to continue to work to be a better friend and be there for them as they have always done for me. We’ll definitely be celebrating more wins together, that’s for sure. 🥂
I met almost all of the goals I set for this year except for few. I also worked on more projects this year compared to the last. I do not have any explicit goals set for next year (and that is intentional), but I do know that I want to do only work that I enjoy. To do this, I’d need to not have to worry about my finances for a while. I don’t know how I’m going to pull that off but here’s me hoping I do get to wing it somehow. ❤