“Ìgbìyànjú la fi í mọ akínkanjú.”
“Willingness to make the needed effort is how an exceptional person is recognized.” -Yoruba Proverb
I am embarking on a new journey as I begin to earn my Udacity iOS Developer Nanodegree as part of the inaugural class (or “cohort”). But in many ways, this journey started with the launch of the first iPhone in 2007. My hope is that what I’ve learned thus far — from my career, my education and my extended community of family and friends — will prove instructive to others considering a career pivot.
The day the first iPhone made its debut, I was working as a retail sales consultant at an AT&T store in Delaware. When they opened the first box I didn’t know what I was looking at. Compared to the QWERTY-keyboard-laden “smart” phones lining the wall displays until that day, the first Apple iPhone just looked like a shiny slim rectangular tile. But when we turned it on and realized what it was and what it could do, it planted a seed that has grown into a transformative idea now rooted in my mind: I want to build iOS apps. (The first iPhone didn’t have an App Store mind you.)
Since that day, I’ve worked my way up within AT&T with persistence, dedication, sales abilities and considerable effort. Still, I haven’t forgotten about my passion to build apps.
But, how do you gain the necessary skills? I’m working full-time and the nearest community college with courses in application development is almost two hours away. I gave it a shot and drove for hours — cutting into family and sleep time — to sit in a classroom and be lectured from a book I could have read at home. This was irrational.
Then, AT&T announced to employees the new Udacity iOS Developer Nanodegree and offered to cover my tuition (just $200 a month but every dollar helps!). To prepare for the program launch, I took the Intro to iOS App Development with Swift course in which I built an app from scratch. I had already built an iOS app in Objective C called Share Yoruba which has digitized and translated hundreds of Yoruba Proverbs that you can draw inspiration from and also share with your social networks. But all signs are pointing to Swift as the language of choice for future iOS app development, so I must learn Swift. If you’re employed, I urge you to seek out tuition support opportunities to take classes to skill up.
With the skills I gain I will be prepared for an entry level iOS developer role. But I will also be prepared for jobs of the future and can even apply these skills to my current role. Mobile applications aren’t just fun and games. Many companies will be able to implement mobile apps within their businesses, with partners and with consumers to further business goals. For example, I could imagine building an app that helps retail account executives like myself communicate with and incentivize retail associates more efficiently and effectively.
Glassdoor recently released the 25 Best Jobs of 2015 based on earning potential, career opportunity rating and number of job openings. My current position as a sales manager is #10 — not bad. But the majority of these top positions (software engineer, data scientist, mobile developer) involve technical skills. It stands to reason that the top positions of the future will increasingly require technical skills.
What many people don’t realize is that they don’t have to quit their day jobs or break the bank to “level up” their technical skills for the jobs of the future. In fact, with affordable online education and the application of the needed effort, you too can learn the skills needed to live your passion. And a better job is one of the best kinds of recognition.
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Mikaila Akeredolu is a Udacity iOS Developer Nanodegree student.