6 Lessons I wish I had really understood when I was a student


I love law, all that jargon just does it for me. The hidden meaning for words, the different ways you can twist an argument and so much more. So before we get started here let me lay down the terms of reference. When I talk about lessons in no way am I referring to data structures and algorithms, calculus, automata theory or any of those really hard units taught in uni (of course by a lecturer who had no idea of the subject matter). The lessons I am talking about are real life lessons although the a fore mentioned are also very important.

I am still a student though a different kind, I am a student of life and at the moment I am doing just fine. Some time back I was a comrade, I viewed the whole differently. I thought it would worship at my feet, now I know better. As a student people didn’t have a lot of expectations from me. I also did my part, I hustled my way through uni since second year. Ngoja niende ocha juzi! I now know why the say a child belongs to the village and not the family. 

I am deviating, focus ni muhimu. On Saturday 11th of this month I was at Kenyatta University as one of the judges in a mobile application development competition. After the presentations I gave a short talk on my experiences as a young developer. I am going to share the same here, you never know it might just make a difference in someone’s life.

I have drawn my lessons from people who have been there done that. Life is too short to make and learn from your mistakes so it is always good from other people’s mistakes.

Lesson 1: Do what you love, love what you do

Elon Musk

Elon Musk never ceases to baffle me. Elon founded PayPal, the world’s largest internet payment system, only to sell it. He didn’t sell it because it wasn’t making money. I am an avid fun of the daily show and thanks to Fred, a colleague at work, I will never miss an episode. Sometime back Elon was at the show as a guest. Early in life Elon identified three spheres that would change the future of mankind. They were

  • Internet
  • Sustainable energy and
  • Space exploration

In March 1999 he co-founded X.com, an on-line financial services and email payment company. To cut the long story short a few years later this became PayPal.  In October 2002, PayPal was acquired by eBay for US$1.5 billion in stock. Before its sale, Musk, the company’s largest shareholder, owned 11.7% of PayPal’s shares.

I am sure if it were you, you would have never left. Elon had unfinished business, he went ahead and created SpaceX. He went from PayPal to making rockets. In the world there are only four entities that deal with space exploration

  1. USA
  2. China
  3. Russia and
  4. Elon Musk

So what was his secret to success? Elon did what he truly loved. Would you still do the job you are doing if there was no monetary gain? The money may seem appealing now but will you still look forward to work 2 years later. Are you doing something because of family pressure or societal expectations or maybe because it is because it looks prestigious? In no way am I saying that you should work for free, just do what you love and love what you do. I discovered early that I liked coding. In case I ever change careers I know I will still code even just as something on the side. I have seen many people code because it seems like easy money but they quit or get frustrated so early. My advice to you, identify that one thing you love doing and be the best you can be in that.

*Due to the lengthy nature of the posts I have decided to do it in 6 installments, lesson 2 is coming up pretty soon

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