Turn weakness into a strength: the story of a Staff Software Engineer 👨‍💻

9 Jun 2023

Ever since I was a child, computers have always fascinated me. Although I didn't fully understand their inner workings, the commands that animated the screen always captivated my imagination, almost as if they were magic.

(Photo by Lorenzo Herrera on Unsplash)

As I grew older and attended school, my desire to own a computer intensified. However, coming from a modest family, those were the times when not everyone could afford such a luxury. Recognizing my insatiable curiosity, my parents made the decision to purchase a computer for me using a portion of their savings. And so, I received my very first computer—a Pentium III with a 600 MHz core and a crap graphic card.

Nothing worked 😔

At first, I was delighted. I finally got my own computer. My excitement, however, quickly turned to irritation as the days passed. Most of the popular games of that era, such as FIFA 2000 and Grand Theft Auto 3 didn't work, and I had no idea why. And that's how my adventure with computers started.

Turn weakness into a strength 💪

To get to the bottom of the problem, I began purchasing computer-related periodicals. Each edition contained valuable insights, including updates on the latest graphics cards, RAM, processors, and storage devices. I began to understand the limitations of my computer and why the games didn't work for me; curiosity drove me to learn how each component works. As the months passed, I become familiar with every single component of my PC and the proprietor of the computer shop where I went to buy new components with my hard-earned money was impressed by my knowledge. In exchange for a discounted price on the components, we reached an agreement where I would provide him with recommendations on the best components to sell in the shop, taking into consideration the balance between quality and price. I've turned my computer's weakness into a strength for me.

Then, I started to get passionate about programming because I wanted to understand how programs work. I wrote my first "Hello World 🌍" in Pascal and I'll never forget that blue screen of the editor. Taking it a step further, I developed an algorithm in Pascal that would randomly assign teams in a FIFA tournament, automating the process whenever my friends and I gathered to play. In this process, I knew what I wanted to create however, sometimes, I didn't know how to do it. Whenever I ran into a problem, I spent hours figuring out how to fix the issue. I tried and tried again.

Passion and curiosity will guide you 🍀

Acquiring more experience, I began to rewrite my programs to make them better and I was proud of myself for each improvement. I spent the nights programming and whenever my parents found me at 2 or 3 AM o'clock still programming they said to me:

You are crazy, you should find something new to do because spending hours in front of the computer won't give you a future.

I will never forget those words! They hurt me but I kept going because I was always driven by passion and curiosity. That was enough for me. Not for money, not for fashion, not for others.

The first steps 💻

A new day, a new story. I started learning new programming languages and understanding how web applications and databases work. This marked the beginning of my journey in creating my first technology websites (one of them is still online - ilsitoblu.com) and earning the first real money thanks to advertising 💰. At the same time, friends approached me with requests to create websites and develop initial software solutions for their companies. I gladly embraced these opportunities, as they brought me immense joy and provided a constant avenue for learning and personal growth. Everything else was a consequence of my attitude (let me know in the comments if you want to know more about how I went from Junior Developer to Staff Software Engineer).

I am a self-employed sole trader and a Staff Software Engineer at Zero Hash, today. I've come a long way since the day I received my first computer. I took part in huge and very complex projects (with millions of users) and wrote programs and applications in many different programming languages such as Pascal, PHP, Javascript, Python + Django, Java + Spring Boot and Golang (my favourite). However, I can safely say there is one thing that didn't change: my attitude. Curiosity, passion and the desire to grow and learn have guided me since the beginning. They motivated me in the most difficult moments (and believe me there have been many). So if you're just starting out, remember to follow your heart, not only trends. Do things out of passion, always try to understand the "why" of things and... CREATE! Only by writing code and working on projects, you can really learn.

I almost forgot. I want to share the following video with you. It was sent to me by a colleague and IMO it sums up very well how to learn programming. No tricks, no hacks!

And finally, one last thing. Please do share your feedback on whether you enjoyed the article. At the same time, it would be nice to know your story too. Write in the comments so that we can inspire others!

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south coast surfer
Good work 💪
Wow, your story and your carrier path is exiting! I found it so true.. I'm on the same level now as you was with your first codes. I'm starting step by step my path in ux/ui design. Sometimes I find it so hard.. but after reading this blog I felt this incentive kick and feeling that everything is possible and depends ONLY on you. I'm sure that I will read this blog a few more times when I feel down with my designs❤️‍🩹 Thank you for this story!!!
Turning weakness into strength is great idea because every time we think negatively we can't do any thing so we should find a solution to increase our confidence so this one thing can change
Wow Strong determination and a resilient spirit 👍
This is a good article on mastering your weakness and letting it be a source of strength
The life of a software engineer is never easy so whatever works for you
The ability to stop procrastination alone to me is turning weakness into strength.
Thanks for sharing your story! The self taught journey can be a difficult one but it can also be one of the most rewarding things you can do. I find the people that do much more fun to be around than the people that talk
Interesting story...great article.