When I decided to learn technology skills (specifically, graphics design), I faced some challenges about a decade ago.
Although this might be a long time ago, you might still be facing the same issues today. I hope my experience help you navigate through the tough time.
Challenges are often why most people won't learn technology-related skills in the first place. Not because they don't have the time; in most cases, the essential resources might not just be available.
Back then, getting a computer to use for practice was a big deal!
My family couldn't afford one; I only see a computer whenever I go to the cyber cafe to purchase 30 minutes browsing credits (some will still remember that era).
Seriously, it never occurs to me then that accessing the internet will be this accessible.
One faithful day, I was told by my mom to meet a family friend (Mr Ade) to help me get a place where I could learn something.
Funny enough, she wasn't particular about what I should learn exactly, but she knew whatever Mr Ade suggested, will definitely be useful for me (imagine the uncertainty and belief).
Thanks to my Mom, looking back, she was right!
Right in Mr Ade's sitting room, he was deliberating what should be a good fit for me.
While speaking out loud, then Mr Ade asked himself, "should I take this boy to learn how to operate printing machines, or should I take him to learn graphics?"
Even though I didn't understand what he was saying then, in my mind, I was just saying, "anyone is good for me, jare".
Mr Ade continued with his deliberations; he went further to say, "if I take this young boy to learn to print, he won't continue with his education, but if I take him to learn graphics, it will help him further his education (since it is computer-related).
What visionary thinking! Thank you, Mr Ade.
God planned my life, and he placed people to guide me through the process. I can't underestimate this fact because there are many encounters I've had that made these clear.
By now, you should feel how difficult it is learning then, considering not having a laptop or a desktop computer to learn.
In fact, I could not afford a transportation fair when I finally got a place to learn. As little as it N100 (less than a dollar), I couldn't afford it each day.
If the situation is that difficult, how come I learned and even transitioned from graphics design into software engineering?
If you are going through the same scenario, I will ask you to focus on two things:
1. The Courage to Learn: Focus on gaining new skills no matter what.
Often, we focus on the problems rather than what we can do at the very moment. After I got a place to learn (with help from Mr Ade), there was another challenge.
The learning centre happens to be an actual design company; in other words, people come in every day to request designs (flyers, banners, brochures etc.) - no time for playing around.
The business only had three desktops, one of the desktops is for the boss (no go area), and the other two was for the most senior two apprentices. About five of us who are junior apprentices has nothing to use.
As junior apprentices, what is expected from us is to watch while they work and go for errands as the needs arise.
Remember, I was the most junior; I know it will take months and years before it will get to my turn to mount a system.
At this point, learning became even more difficult.
But, I noticed a loophole; whenever the boss assigned projects to the senior apprentices, not all were done.
If I had to learn, I told myself that I must do things even when I'm not asked. I started attempting the project that my seniors are too busy to do whenever they close for the day (I stay back late).
Each day, my understanding began to grow. Then, finally, things made sense; my confidence level started getting stronger.
When my boss asked the seniors for the project before giving excuses, I always presented them with the finished work. Even though it doesn't look good, it saves the boss 40% of his time.
It wasn't long; the boss started giving me projects directly. Then, a few months later, my boss clients started giving me jobs directly (why they pay to the company).
I began to gain relevance, and the company ended up dedicating one desktop to me.
These experiences changed my entire life for good.
My takeaway here; in every situation you find yourself in, there's always an opportunity. So, look out for it. That's where your breakthrough lies.
2. Remain focused and consistent
Always remember this; stay focused!
Your friends might be making money from petty jobs, wearing new clothes, and going to shows. That's the best their money can buy. Instead, focus on your unique skills; when their clothes are faded off, your skills will get fresher each day.
Please remain focused, committed and consistent. That way, you will do away with opposing counsels that hinder you from reaching your goals.
I hope my experience was helpful. If you need support, don't hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org