My Most Important Lesson To New Developers? Write Code Every Day.

Afro Tech Story series.

Obialo Ndubueze

1 month ago|12 min read

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“My most important lesson to new developers? Write code every day.”

I had an interesting conversation with Hero Momoh, a mobile app developer who has devoted the last 5 years of his life to helping people create software solutions to real-life problems.

Dive into this pool of light, and emerge on the other side illuminated.

“We are about to start, bro.”

“All right.”

“All set?”

“Yeah, I’m good.”

“Cool.”

*Click, click*

*Starts recording*

Good evening hero.

Yeah, good evening.

It’s great to have you here. How are you feeling tonight?

Just generally tired from work. Apart from that, I’m okay.

*static*

Tell me a little about yourself?

My name is Hero, and I’m the only son, the last born and the first son.

I’m the only boy in a family of four.

It’s been just me and my sister all our lives, and when we were both 8 years old, my dad put us in separate rooms and hence my love for computers started.

He gave me a desktop and a Nokia express music. I was always in my room, either on my phone or my desktop. That was how I got exposed to the world of technology and computer programming.

Was that when you got into the world of tech?

I won’t say that’s when I got into the world, I’ll say that’s when I knew how to operate a computer.

I mean, there are a lot of factors that go into understanding or going into the tech world.

What I was doing then was learning how to type fast on Mavis Beacon. I don’t know if you know that typing game.

I was playing other forms of typing games too, just generally increasing my speed in typing.

And from there I began exploring and exploring and I came across computer science and that’s where I started.

Okay. At first, you were playing with computers. So, at what point did you get into the industry, did you stumble in or was it an intentional move?

It was an intentional move. I was exposed at an early age, but that didn’t mean it was a straight path from there.

It wasn’t.

I did my A’Level at Ibadan, and it was meant for me to write the Cambridge exams and get into the University of British Columbia, in Canada.

I wanted to study Aeronautical engineering, and I needed 11 points to get an admission into UBC.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get 11 points, and I was advised to study another course.

Now, the only thing I loved next to planes then, were computers.

So, it was pretty straightforward.

That’s how I got into Bowen University.

I was barely 15 years old at the time, very much a novice and just attending classes and trying to get my head in because I wasn’t happy.

I mean, I should have been out of the country by that time if things had worked out. So, I was trying to get my head back into being in Nigeria and adjusting to life again since my travel plans had been scattered.

By 200 Level, I began to find my feet.

During the long summer holiday, I got home and told my dad that I wanted to learn computer programming.

At first, he was like, what’s that? I explained it to him and he accepted and I was enrolled in a school in Port Harcourt to learn.

This was my first ever school where I had to learn. I won’t say I was fully taught because I went on to do further reading on my own.

I was shown the light, and I walked the path.

I resumed 300 Level first semester, and we had a course called,

“A New Horizon”.

Coincidentally, it was exactly what I had gone to learn over the summer, just the advanced form. So, I was flowing with it and understood what I was being taught. Then we had to take the New Horizon exam.

It did not play any role in our final work paper, it didn’t play any role in our CGPA.

It was just to test if we had paid attention to what had been taught in class.

At the end, they gave us a certificate.

It was graded over 1000 and I topped my class with a score of 700.

The next person, scored 400 and something, and we had a score difference of almost 300.

The difference was so large that the New Horizon’s master noticed it and called me into his office.

When I got there, he asked me one question,

“Do you have an interest in this thing?”

I shook my head and said I did.

“That’s fine,” he said. “I’ll help you.”

He gave me videos to watch.

Questions to practice. And eventually, he became my mentor.

It was hard at first because my laptop was not compatible with what I wanted to do. I had to set it up to use the Android studio environment.

But once that was over, the coding began.

I watched videos, learned, and every day after class, I went to his office and wrote codes with him for about an hour before going back to the hostel.

My classmates were going back to the hostel around 3 or 4 pm, and I was coming in by 7 pm.

They always asked where I had been to, but I told nobody except my two closest friends.

When they heard it, they took the opportunity and kept their heads down to learn with me.

And as God would have it, we are all in the same industry today.

My 300 Level second semester was the time for my IT, and when I got home I told my dad that I wanted to continue from where I had stopped.

My dad played a huge part in what I am today. He paid heavily for the courses, summer school and the bootcamps that I took.

So, I went on to learn mobile app development because that was where I had developed an interest.

The program was meant to run for six months, but when I got there they didn’t have a teacher.

They said they would teach me other parts of programming and tech in my first 3 months. I could learn web development, ethical hacking, networking and all.

I opted for networking and web development, and did it for the first 3 months. Then the teacher came and my last three months were used to learn pure Android development.

But again, even as the teacher came it wasn’t all rosy.

He came once a week and stayed for a maximum of two hours a day.

So, I had to go home and watch YouTube videos to understand what I was learning.

At some point, my laptop was a semi YouTube. A section of native Android app development could have about 50 videos on my laptop at the time.

I kept downloading and watching videos over and over again, taking these mini-steps.

I was focused on what I was doing and had zero interest in any other thing at that point.

Then I got a job and built on that foundation, and here we are today.

You got a job. Tell me about your first job?

I didn’t get my first break immediately.

For 3 years I was writing code without pay, without making a kobo from it. I was just learning and improving myself.

It was in 2020 that I got my first 100k from tech.

The company is in Lagos and I still haven’t stepped my foot in it.

I got the job through a friend, a recommendation.

The two friends I told you about from school, the ones we started writing codes together, they just called me and said,

“are you up for a Mobile app job?”

I said, yes.

I didn’t even have an interview, I just got a contract letter the next day saying this will be your pay and this is when you will be starting.

Everything looked good, I looked over and I signed.

And till tomorrow, I haven’t had any issues with the company.

So, when I saw that I could make this large amount of money literally overnight, I continued.

What’s your specific niche in tech?

Mobile app development.

I’m talking Native Android, cross-platform development, and native iOS.

Hmm… You’ve had quite a journey, and I’m sure you’ve also experienced challenges. Can you share some of them?

*Inhales*

I applied for a job with a company in London two years ago, and it was a four-stage interview.

I went through the first and second stages well.

The interviewer told me I had scored 4.5 out of 5.

Now, when an interviewer lets you know you have that kind of a score, you get this high confidence and you will do anything to get the job.

At the third stage we were asked to build a project using flutter, cross-platform.

They gave one week to work on it. My one week was going to start from Monday to Friday, but I received a mail on Tuesday, saying the deadline had been extended from Friday to the next Monday.

I felt, maybe they needed me to take my time and finish it up properly.

Now, don’t get me wrong.

I was already done with the project by Thursday, and I remember my dad telling me,

“Hero, submit this thing.”

But, I was having this imposter syndrome and feeling like,

what if it’s not good enough

what if this…

what if that…

So, I spent the weekend double-checking, cross-checking, triple-checking, and just checking everything to make sure it worked as expected.

Eventually, it did. Then I submitted on the new deadline, Monday morning.

I also had a call with the interviewer and he praised the work,

“Nice code structure,

Clean readable code.”

He said he was going to get back to me on Wednesday, but it came and it passed.

I didn’t hear from him even till the next Monday.

That’s when I began to suspect that something had gone wrong.

So, I wrote to them asking what was happening.

When they replied, they said they had decided to go with someone else.

I was heartbroken!

I had worked hard for that.

I asked what their reason was and they told me it was the whole deadline thing.

“But you were the ones who extended my deadline!”

And they said it had been a test, that I was supposed to submit within the first set deadline.

For about two months, I wasn’t able to do anything. I was thinking and thinking.

And it hurt because I had been told to submit, but I was having this imposter thing.

That’s sad, man. But, this imposter syndrome, is something that happens a lot?

Oh, yeah. Every developer, no matter what standard you have reached, has faced or is currently facing imposter syndrome.

There is this rich, popular developer on Twitter, who recently tweeted about facing imposter syndrome a few days back.

It’s just something that happens to test your confidence level in yourself. You’ll see some things, people will post their works and you’ll be like,

“wait, am I not smart enough, why can’t I also think of this, why can’t I also do this?”

Okay. How then do you deal with it, or do you let it cripple you?

I watch movies, I play video games and I don’t code.

I know it’s a phase. I just let it flow till it leaves me. It stays for a while, but soon I’ll be so vibrant and I just get back to work.

Would you call mobile app development a creative process?

Yes, actually.

So, how do you come up with ideas?

I currently work with a startUp as a mobile app consultant. They haven’t launched. They are still in the alpha testing mode, and this startUp was born out of personal experience.

The lady just woke up one morning and was like,

“why is this thing like this in this country? We need to change it!”

And boom, the idea came out.

You can’t be creative if you’ve never had these experiences.

And you can’t get them within the four walls of your room. Well, it’s possible but it rarely happens.

You need to go out there, face life’s challenges and then say you want to come up with a solution for this nonsense that happened today.

I work for a company and we help individuals and companies build mobile apps and software. Clients come and say I want my app to do XYZ.

Clients are free thinkers. Everybody has a right to think to whatever extent they want to think to. But, it is left for us as developers to say,

“Okay, do this. The app won’t do XYZ. It will do WXY.”

That process of brainstorming and coming up with how the app should work and flow, that’s you being creative.

And these ideas will not come unless you step out and interact with the world and see the problems.

That way, when it’s time for solutions, you know what to build.

Absolutely amazing, Hero. But ehm, let me ask you this. There are rumours about some form of discrimination between males and females in tech. What do you have to say about that?

Hmm.

I mean, it’s no rumour if it’s true right?

*Laughs*

I’m not saying women haven’t worked hard for what they have. I know some very smart ladies in tech. These ladies are extremely smart that I feel dumb when I’m around them.

But, a larger percentage of ladies I’ve met in tech are boosted and being favoured. This is subjective, and my opinion.

I was having this conversation with a friend of mine a couple of months back, and he was like you’ll always see female tech organizations.

Why aren’t there such organizations for men?

Why isn’t there an organization for men only?

I know tech is a male-dominated industry, but there are dozens and dozens of female organizations helping a female. A guy will be struggling to get into tech and he won’t know the steps to take.

I was so fortunate I met a mentor when I did. I know some guys who have been struggling to get into tech and they don’t know what to do and how to go about it.

But, whenever a lady says I want to do this thing, the organizations are there.

Guys who are into this tech thing also favour ladies more than their fellow guys.

This is not hearsay, it happened to me.

So, I once sent a tech guy on Twitter a message. I wanted to get into another area of tech and I had no idea how to do that.

I sent him a message and I asked how to go about it. I wasn’t saying he should come and tutor me.

I said give me links and I’ll go and find my footing myself.

Till tomorrow, I didn’t get any response. Then last month, I saw a tweet of a lady thanking the same tech guy for helping her get into the same area of tech I had messaged him about.

Just give me articles, that’s all.

Even if he had dropped just one link, that’s fine.

I’d have picked up from there.

But, I never got a response.

When I saw that tweet, I was like,

“Oh, I see how it is.”

*Laughs*

You feel men are being discriminated against in the industry?

I won’t use the word “discriminated”. I would say women are being favoured.

You’re saying the standard is being lowered for them?

Yeah. I mean, some roles are purely for females.

Now, I get that. But, why aren’t there purely for men roles too?

I haven’t seen that personally.

People think that it doesn’t matter, but there are guys out there that want to get in but they don’t know how to.

Why aren’t there organizations rallying for and targeting men in tech?

Hmm… That’s a broad conversation right there. But, would you say you are fine with where you are at the moment, are you at your destination now?

I am perfectly fine with where I am now, but I won’t say I have arrived.

So, you’re still on a journey then?

Yes, I am still on a journey.

Great. What then are your plans for the future?

Honestly, I want to get into Google.

*Laughs*

That has been my day one dream since I began this coding thing.

Getting into Google won’t still be my final destination, but that’s just the next step for me now. That’s where I’m targeting at. And I know it won’t be easy at all, but we’ll see where life carries us.

*Laughs*

You got any hobbies?

Oh, I love computers, I love video games, I love soccer. And up until last year, I never fully realised that I love car racing.

I mean, I’ve always been watching car racing movies, fast and furious, fast cars and all, but when I held the steering to have my first car race, I felt the adrenaline rush. It was so awesome, and I wanted more.

Hence, I see myself as being a car racer, or I love car racing now.

All right, man. We are wrapping up now. If you’re talking to people who are starting in tech or who are trying to get in, what are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learnt and would share with them?

No one will spoon feed you.

Even if you pay x-million naira to learn what you want to know, no one will give you that satisfaction of you being okay with what you learned.

You need to go the extra mile,

you need to work,

you need to learn on your own.

And the most important thing, write code every day.

Even if it’s one hour you spend writing code, do it every day.

This is my fifth year, yet, I write code every blessed day.

Even on Sundays when I don’t do official work.

I sleep on Sundays, but I still find one hour to play around with a plugin, a package in mobile app development on flutter, or I find one hour to learn more about native iOS development.

So, every day I write code.

That’s one thing that they should know.

No one will spoon feed you.

And every day, write code.

Thank you so much, Hero. This has been wonderful. You’re a bag of experience.

Thank you very much, Joseph. I appreciate you thinking of me.

*Static*

*Click, click*

*Stops recording*

***

Connect with Hero on LinkedIn here

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Obialo Ndubueze

Hi, I'm Obialo Ndubueze. I am a perpetual student of life, a writer, and a tale-bearer. I tell stories of Africans in tech, highlighting their journey, process and achievements.

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