To those that think they can't make it.
To those that are put down by those that don't understand you.
And to those that have never had a dream come true.

Not a rant, but the story of how I got into programming

I've always been into tech/electronics. I remember being told once that when I was 3, I used to take plug sockets to pieces. When I was 7, I built a computer with my dad.
There isn't a thing in my room that hasn't been dismantled and put back together again. Except for the things that weren't put back together again ;)

When I was 15, I got a phone for Christmas. It was a pretty crappy phone, the LG P350 (optimus ME). But I loved it all the same.
However I knew it could do a lot more. It ran a bloated, slow version of Android 2.2.
So I went searching, how can I make it faster, how to make it do more. And I found a huge community around Android ROMs. Obviously the first thing I did was flashed this ROM. Sure, there were bugs, but I was instantly in love with it. My phone was freed.

From there I went on to exploring what else can be done.
I wanted to learn how to script, so over the weekend I wrote a 1000 line batch (Windows cmd) script that would root the phone and flash a recovery environment onto it. Pretty basic. Lots of switch statements, but I was proud of it. I'd achieved something. It wasn't new to the world, but it was my first experience at programming.

But it wasn't enough, I needed more.
So I set out to actually building the roms. I installed Linux. I wanted to learn how to utilise Linux better, so I rewrote my script in bash.
By this time, I'd joined a team for developing on similar spec'd phones. Without the funds to by new devices, we began working on more radical projects.
Between us, we ported newer kernels to our devices. We rebased much of the chipset drivers onto newer equivalents to add new features.

And then..

Well, it was exam season. I was suffering from personal issues (which I will not detail), and that, with the work on Android, I ended up failing the exams.
I still passed, but not to the level I expected.

So I gave up on school, and went head first into a new kind of development. "continue doing what you love. You'll make it" is what I told myself.

I found python by contributing to an IRC bot. I learnt it by reading the codebase. Anything I didn't understand, I researched. Anything I wanted to do, google was there to help me through it.

Then it was exam season again. Even though I'd given up on school, I was still going. It was easier to stay in than do anything about it.
A few weeks before the exams, I had a panic attack. I was behind on coursework, and I knew I would do poorly on exams.
So I dropped out.
I was disappointed, my family was disappointed.
So I did the only thing I felt I could do. I set out to get a job as a developer.

At this stage, I'd not done anything special. So I started aiming bigger. Contributing to projects maintained by Sony and Google, learning from them. Building my own projects to assist with my old Android friends.
I managed to land a contract, however due to the stresses at home, I had to drop it after a month.
Everything was going well, I felt ready to get a full time job as a developer, after 2 years of experience in the community.

Then I had to wake up.
Unfortunately, my advisors (I was a job seeker at the time) didn't understand the potential of learning to be a developer. With them, it's "university for a skilled job".
They see the word "computer" on a CV, they instantly say "tech support".
I played ball, I did what I could for them. But they'd always put me down, saying I wasn't good enough, that I'd never get a job.
I hated them. I'd row with them every other day.

By God, I would prove them wrong.

And then I found them. Or, to be more precise, they found me. A startup in London got in contact with me. They seemed like decent people. I spoke with their developers, and they knew their stuff, these were people that I can learn from.
I travelled 4 hours to go for an interview, then 4 hours back.
When I got the email saying they'd move me to London, I was over the moon.
I did exactly what everyone was telling me I couldn't do.

1.5 years later, I'm still working with them. We all respect each other, and we all learn from each other.

I'm ever grateful to them for taking a shot with me. I had no professional experience, and I was by no means the most skilled individual they interviewed.

Many people have a dream. I won't lie, I once dreamed of working at Google. But after the journey I've been through, I wouldn't have where I am now any other way. Though, in time, I wish to share this dream with another.
I hope that all of you reach your dreams too.

Sorry for the long post. The details are brief, but there are only 5k characters ;)

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