Earlier this week, Alex and I discussed over lunch on the trends of software developers and engineers in the country. And it occurred to me that it will be precisely 10 years ago that I took my first step into the world of programming.
My first encounter with a computer was in my secondary school when we were given mid-term assignment to type and submit via email. That was how I registered my first email address firstname.lastname@example.org, I still can’t remember the password to the email till date.
I was fortunate to have a Compaq Notebook in my first year in the university, one fateful night, I took my laptop to my cousin to help me with some configurations, he said “let me show you something cool”, brought out a compact disc (Visual Basic 6 setup) from his CD rack and installed the software on my laptop. I moved closely to him to see what he was about to do, he launched Visual Basic 6 after installation was completed, and wrote a short program to calculate two integers that printed the result on the form. I was beyond thrilled. And at that moment, I knew this was it.
Still in that mood of excitement, I ran to Akinwande Adegbola to show him the wonders of Visual Basic 6, we were so excited that we tried out a lot of stunts that night, we didn’t know when it was past 2:00AM. This was my first encounter with programming.
The zeal to learn and do more with Visual Basic 6 grew by the day such that I wrote my Uncle in New Jersey telling him to help purchase and send “Sam Teach Yourself Visual Basic in 24 hours” (programming books were hard to get in the country at the time). Myself and Wande completed the book in less than 3 weeks, we developed cool software programs and taught our colleagues who were interested in learning programming. Sharing the little knowledge we had, further grounded our expertise in Visual Basic 6.
Few weeks later, the news of Java being the coolest chick in town and Java programmers being the bad-ass programmers, went round the campus, Wande immediately jumped ship into the world of Java, I was reluctant at first as I felt so comfortable with Visual Basic (I was already into Visual Basic.NET ) but the zeal to explore made me pick up Java tutorial to quick start.
Reading about Java framework was interesting until I needed to practice all that I had read. I was stuck on system.out.println (“Hello World”); for 2weeks, this was during the holidays. And even though I had learnt O.O.P (Object-Oriented Programming) with Java, I still couldn’t print out a string to the console, I mistook “L” in println for “I”, this led to the search for an alternative, luckily I found C#. I learned and started writing C# codes in 2 days.
To improve on my C# skills, I took part in the programming challenge, interestingly 90% of the contestant programmed in Java, I programmed in C#, and came out second. The winner was a 2 year senior— my consolation. My little achievements motivated me to learn more, I dived into the .NET Framework, WPF, ASP, Web Forms, Access DB etc.
One evening, Sola Amusan walked up to me after a computer science class and asked “Do you want to keep writing software programs for fun or do you want to create solutions?” I asked how and that led to a series of conversation that lasted for over 2 hours. We talked about how vision and purpose was a key factor in succeeding in life and this led to another question, “What is your vision, in one sentence” I without a second thought replied “To make life beautiful for millions of people around the world”.
Our conversation gave birth to an Initiative (Software Developer and Research Initiative of Nigeria — SDRIN) convened by Sola. Myself and Wande worked closely together as we were Software Director and Research Director respectively. We drove innovation massively on campus by convening tech seminars, workshop training, mentoring etc. such that we got the attention of the school authorities.
In my 2nd year, I joined JCI (Junior Chambers International). I made a decision to commit myself to JCI believing that my involvement will make me a better person, I was right, it was one of the best decisions I have made. I was made the Director for ICT, under the administration of Olumide Bamiloshin as LOM President, I went ahead to badge an award of the Most Innovative Jaycee, that year. Olumide is one of the best leaders I have worked with.
My association positioned me for recommendations to develop websites and software programs for individuals and organizations, and as a student that fetched me some extra cash. The services rendered became a business, I registered my business name “Emusoft Entrerprise Solutions”, I wrote proposals to schools, business owners and even government agencies on why they should integrate software technologies into their systems.
While the website development business was growing , I thought of diversifying into SMS business, DuduMobile was king in SMS business at that time. So, I setup my website, integrated the gateway and started offering SMS services to Individuals and organizations. The SMS business was doing fine until someone from China hacked the website. Samuel Okoraofor did a job to trace the Identity of the hacker, but we decided to let go, and that was how the SMS business crashed.
Two years later I landed a significant job which I believe to be the game changer for me, i worked alongside 6 of my friends, We were to customize a product for the Land Record Bureau . We were trained by professionals from United Nations, I even got to meet with top officials of the State and the Governor . All these and more were fascinating to us as youngsters.
During my service year after graduation (NYSC), Myself and Olaolu Otegbayo proposed a CBT solution to the University in the city where I was posted to serve, we pitched the idea to the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academics), he loved it and we were too sure that we would get the project. But alas! we didn’t get it and this opened my eyes to the real world.
The journey hasn’t been just about programming, but through programming I have connected with people who formed an integral part of my growth, I have learnt both life and business lessons and I am still on the quest to making life beautiful for millions of people around the world.