2016: Year In Review
Stephen Amaza

2017: Year in Review

Photo by Kaique Rocha from Pexels

2017 has been an amazing year. I recorded so much growth and though I did not accomplish a lot of my publicly set goals, I made progress in ways I had not anticipated before.

Here is a summary:

Travelling 🚍

In 2017, I visited more cities than my average. I visited at least 5 new cities — 4 in Ghana and 1 in Nigeria.

In February, the CSR arm of an oil company took I and a few colleagues on a tour of agricultural Ghana. The trip had us going from Accra to Kumasi. After a few days, we went to Sunyani, Tamale and then back to Kumasi before going back to Accra. I wrote all about the experience here.

Later on in the month, I travelled to Cape Coast with a few of my MEST colleagues on a trip mostly sponsored by MEST. It was a time to relax and just enjoy the seaside and I was glad I went. We visited a slave castle called Elmina Castle before stopping for two nights at a beachside resort.

My final trip was in the month of November when I travelled to the ancient city of Abeokuta in Nigeria. Before then, Lagos was the only city in South Western Nigeria I’d travelled to. In all these, it was nice to learn about history of these places, go out and observe the nightlife and just enjoy the sights. Special mention to Eniola for being my tour guide in Abeokuta.

One goal I had set for the year was to visit a new country and I failed it at through a fault of mine. I could have simply accomplished this by visiting Togo while I was in Ghana. It was less than an hour away and there would have been so much to learn about but alas, I chickened out. My goal this year is to do much better. The plan is to visit two new countries and 5 new Nigerian cities.

Learning 📚

In 2017, I moved faster toward my learning goals than any other year. Right from January, I took on some freeCodeCamp courses. I also upped my Codecademy tracks learning. I went into detail on my learning in a post here.

In 2017, I pushed a project built on React Native, worked on plugins built on PHP for Paystack, did some design projects on the side and also learned Node. I always envisioned myself being a Frontend developer but my job role in Paystack as a Product Specialist has me doing lots of backend.

In August 2017, I graduated from a one year programme at the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) in Accra and moved back to Nigeria to join Paystack.

By design, I didn’t try to learn skills outside programming. I do not believe that will change in this year either. For a long time, I have been a jack of all trades — I need to focus for now.

My goal this year on learning is to do more of learning by doing. I am going to take a break from online courses and dive into working on real life projects.

Work 🛠

In early 2017, I was still an Entrepreneur-in-Training at MEST and I turned in a couple of projects with my team. One of which I was particularly proud of is a financial management app called Shift. The concept might not be as solid as an app in production would be, but I enjoyed the design process and working with an amazing team. I wrote about it in an article titled “Designing Shift ⬆️ — A Personal Finance Management App”.

Another project that was not as enjoyable but the one I learnt from the most, is our capstone project. We designed and built a restaurant management app called Chowbase. I and my two Kenyan teammates really had a hard time figuring this out. At the end of our Accra stay, my good friend Tony Kharioki moved back to Kenya to develop this some more. You can find more about Chowbase at getchowbase.com.

At the end of the MEST programme, I moved back to Nigeria to take up a role at Paystack. My role is as a Product Specialist which is basically customer success for developers or developer related roles. As such, I help developers integrating Paystack to fix their code, I build/maintain third party plugins on the Paystack API and build the occasional projects for high profile merchants — it is quite the challenging job.

Because of the diverse nature of my role, I have had to get familiar with major languages and framework, dive into backend programming, learn PHP because like all the content management systems are built on PHP and also get intimate with mobile app development.

Some of the projects I have contributed to within the last 6 months include

I have made some strides last year in programming that I didn’t imagine I would. This year, I have resolved to approach programming issues much more fearlessly (as fear has held me back before) and it is already yielding results.

Writing ✍🏿

Stats for all the articles I published in 2017

In writing, I failed miserably in my set goals. One of my goals for 2017 was to write an article on an average of an article per week. I however managed to end up writing an average of one article per month!

In quality of content though, there was a significant jump. I got published in two major publications and was recording article views in the thousands (my usual peak used to be below 150 views). In February, Facebook CPO, Chris Cox visited MEST and gave a short lecture. I recorded his words in an article titled “Lessons I Learnt From Facebook CPO, Chris Cox”. A few days after, a respectable tech publication, Hackernoon contacted me for permission to publish on their Medium. The responses to that article have been huge.

My most read Medium article to date was also published last year. It was an article on my journey to being a programmer. The article titled “In 2017, I became a Programmer. Here is how it happened”. It’s success is due to it being published on the largest tech publication on Medium — freeCodeCamp. Being published on freeCodeCamp was one of the goals I set for 2017 and I was ecstatic when I got the notification that my story will be published. At the time of this writing this, it had about 7K views.

The publication that has yielded the most surprising results however, is my second most popular article. It is all about Git commits and is titled “How To Write A Proper Commit Message”. It has about 6K views despite only being published on my personal Medium account. This proves my suspicion that technical articles no matter how elementary will be of great help to a lot of people. I will make a conscious effort this year.

I turned down several requests last year by publications seeking me to write for them. After some encouragement by a writer friend, Hazel, I intend to take up one of these opportunities for the right terms should they come by again.

2017 was a great year. My plan in 2018 is to go even more all out in personal improvement. By taking on more exciting projects, networking more, travelling and in every other way possible.

This is to 2018 🍻.