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Age 15: I’m in my final class in Secondary School and it’s time to finally register for the JAMB UTME. For the past 12 months, I had been seriously searching for a course to study in University, but I had settled for Computer Science because I wanted to be a programmer. My reason was that they looked really smart and female programmers were rare 😂😂🤦🏿‍♀️.

Had to convince my folks, concerned family friends, teachers and every other person that I really desired to study Computer Science in University.

“How can a smart girl like you be filling Computer Science in her JAMB form??”

“Do you want to work in a cyber cafe? There’s no job for them.”

“You’re wasting your brain.”

“You should study Medicine. Or at least Pharmacy. What’s Computer Science? Which faculty is that?”

It’s a cheap course.”

“Why not do Engineering? There’s Computer Engineering too if you really like computers. Engineering is a professional course at least.”

What’s special about Computer Science? Is it not the same thing as Computer Engineering?”

These are some comments I got when people found out my choice, but thankfully, my parents supported me and I got admission to do Computer Science in University of Uyo.

Age 16: I’m about to start Year 1. I’m gifted a laptop by my parents and a friend of ours encourages me to start learning python. It’s an upcoming language and has huge potential.

Age 17 & 18: I have progressed through the University to Year 3. I was nowhere near what I had planned. I had tried learning to program and failed. From python (I downloaded the shell but didn’t know how to get a terminal to write and run my code), to Java, html, css, php, Vb.net; I couldn’t just do it! I was frustrated. By the side, I had gotten into some business in school (was a freelance writer on Upwork, and had just started my phone accessory store on Instagram).

Age 19: I’m on a 9 months industrial attachment from school. I got a placement with Codekago Interactive where I handled content development and social media and also ran my business on the side. I had given up on coding. Programming wasn’t for me. I’ll just finish school, drop my certificate and probably be a serial entrepreneur. I was happy. Life was looking good again.

Age 20: I’m back for my final year in school. My life begins to change. I’m beginning to pick interest in computer science again. ‘There must be more’, I kept thinking. This led to me researching, asking people working in different areas of tech what their work is like, following techies on Twitter, unsubscribing from business/strategy blogs and newsletters then signing up to developer/tech blogs. I started taking advanced courses in school and I was assigned a project supervisor for my Undergraduate research project.

This was the turning point.

I was honest with my supervisor about my near-novice experience level and how I was searching. He guided me and asked me to research some areas. I hit the jackpot!

I knew what I didn’t want. Wasn’t quite sure what I wanted yet, but, I simply relayed what I didn’t want. We worked together and arrived on what areas I had been searching for all these years. I felt at home. I was happy. I was motivated.

He supervised and I worked on building an ontology for the Nigerian Tourism industry. This is a project I hope to revisit and improve upon this year. The code of the first version can be found here and hopefully before the end of this month, I’ll be publishing an article about the project .

During the course of that work, my friend and boss, Dr. Udeme was referred to me. He is trained in a similar area to what I was working on. He encouraged me, gave me resources and guided me alongside my academic supervisor.

Age 21: After my project defense and writing my final examinations, I decided to start from scratch and intensively learn everything in this area. This area is Data Science.

Data Science was the field I realized I wanted. I had felt lost in the tech world all these years because I was limited to website and mobile app development or graphics design. Mfon and Opetunde Adepoju were some other friends that I had discussed Data Science with about a year ago, but I still stumbled a bit before I found myself going back to DS. On Twitter, Nsikak Thompson had asked me ‘Why Data Science?’, I’ll be answering that in a blogpost by next week.

For the past 6 months, I have devoted myself to this and I’m happy with my growth. I keep learning everyday and I’m grateful for this opportunity.

Unfortunately, many people may not be lucky as I am. They are limited to certain areas of tech or certain languages because that’s what their friends are doing or simply because of their location (sadly). If you’re reading this and you’re probably feeling lost or confused, without direction, please there are many other areas that are explored around the world. Don’t let your peers or location limit you. Research, reach out to people, utilize the Internet.

You can also send me a message, I might not have all the questions but I could lead you to someone that could be of help. I answer my DMs, especially work related on Twitter: @_aniekan_

Please if you enjoyed this article, could relate to one thing or the other or you were impacted in any way, please leave a comment below, clap and also don’t forget to follow me so you don’t miss out on subsequent articles.

I have quite a backlog of articles so for February, my goal is releasing at least one article each week. It could be a tech related post or a personal article like this one.

Hope you enjoyed it. Thank you for reading.

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