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How I got my start in programming

My first encounter with a computer was in 2000, I was 14 years old . It was part of a UNICEF programme to promote computer literacy in schools .They were going from school to school with their truck which a computer laboratory inside . I had about 20 minutes with computer where I was taught to write my name in Microsoft , change font colors and save the document. I was completely amazed and I could not stop talking about it for a very long time.

After that encounter, I would not stop reading about computers. I would look for computer books in library and read anything that I could understand. I learned about how Bill Gates started Microsoft and went on to become the richest man in the world. Inspired by the prospects of being very rich and also having read that information technology was going to grow much bigger in the future, I decided there that my future was with information technology.

For some reason that I do not understand my school did not have computers and did not seem to have any plans to get them even though other comparable schools were getting them and everybody was talking about their importance. Years passed by and I completed my ordinary levels and went on to do my advanced level. Unable to study computer science at A-level in high school, my only hope was at the university level. I did my research on the degrees that I could do and found out about Business Studies and Computer Science offered by the university of Zimbabwe. In order to qualify you needed to get As in your subjects including mathematics. I worked hard and for the better part of my A-Levels that was what I was getting. I completed and wrote my final year exams .Results later came out and instead of straight As I had 3Bs which was very good result but not good enough to get in the programme.

I was disappointed and I thought my dreams of having career in Information Technology were over. Fortunately for me someone advised me to try other universities and I found that Midlands State University was offering a similar programmed called Information Systems. I quickly applied and I was accepted into the programme in 2005.
I was optimistic of learning but later found myself finding it very difficult to understand the basics of computer science mainly because access to computers was very limited with preference being given to final year students. Also the quality of lecturers was low, with the better qualified going to countries like United Kingdom, United States , South Africa because the economic hardships in the country.

First year passed and I could not make head or tail of programming. I even failed the introduction to programming which was done in C. Failing programming which was something that I wanted to pursue as career was disheartening. I knew something had to change and I decided to work extra hard. I started spend a lot of time in the computer laboratory and sometimes stay late just to get computer time. I would try simple programmes at each and every opportunity I got and after sometime I mastered the concepts. Programming became easy and other students were soon asking for my assistance. My confidence grew and I now wanted to learn something advanced other than recursion and other basic concepts. I did not have enough access to books, internet or the computer so I spent my second year learning whatever I could get.

I completed my second year and it was time to go for one year internship with any company of your choice. I got the internship position with the university’s information technology department in 2007 and worked in the computer laboratory doing network and system administration . I still did not have my own computer so it was a big opportunity to have unlimited access to internet and a computer. I download open source software and books that I could find. It was during this time that I really learned a lot of things that include new languages like C++, Java, PHP, JavaScript and other technologies. I became very good in C++, a language that I taught myself such that I was assisting final year and masters students with assignments and their projects.

Internship soon came to pass and during the period I had become a confident programmer. In 2008 just before my final year I bought my computer. It gave me a big boost to improve my skills plus I could work at any time I want, given that I no longer had access to the laboratory computer. Final year was a easy ; I passed my studies convincingly and graduate with a Bsc Information Systems Honors in December 2009.

I have not been able to get a job but I have managed to keep developing applications. Recently I developed http://www.mixdem.com and hope develop more challenging applications in the future. It has not been easy but I am proud that I have managed to keep my dream of being an expert software developer and entrepreneur.

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About Munyuki Manatsa

I am web developer @ http://www.mixdem.com.I like programming in php ,hip hop ,soccer and action movies.

Discussion

One thought on “How I got my start in programming

  1. Thanks for sharing Munyuki. Your persistence is inspirational.

    Posted by Stefan | April 28, 2012, 8:44 pm

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