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Journey from medical education to #FirstTechJob
2016-02-24 12:00:00 -0800
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Recent involvement in #FirstTechJob discussion on Twitter brought out all nostalgic memories. Here I tell my life changing story from medical education to computing.
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Until the year of 1999, I didn't know anything about computers apart from believing that they play some important roles somewhere.

At the time, I was pursuing an education to become a doctor. It was high time to do my best to enrol into any medical college by getting good grades in college as well as in entry test. Next step was to get ready for an entry test to make up to minimum merit level for medical colleges. I moved out of home temporary with my cousin Aamir to Lahore for better preparation from some private acadamy. One of our dear friend Tanvir helped us get lodging at his IT college student rooms in Model Town.

Tanvir was no doubt the person who actually introduced me to the computers for the first time. He took me to his lab sessions few times to educate me about extremely basic stuff i.e. using mouse and keyboard. I still remember how difficult it was to control the cursor movements initially. Later sessions amazed me further as I went on playing with MS Paint.

As expected I was a convert very soon. Aamir sat in an entry test ahead of me only to find out that out of 5000+ passed candidates, first ~1600 can make it to available slots in colleges. We both were extremely disappointed. At least I lost all the charm of it and being already back to home means no more interactions with computers either.

These were very depressing times I had no clue what I'm going to do in my life so with no proper guidance I still went on repeating exams year to improve my college grades. Ultimately not making such a big difference but learned that repeating the same educationl subjects for another year actually brings down the overall moral and does not help in any kind of improvements. Consequently I never sat in an entry test for medical colleges.

All these years we had been living in different towns because of my father's job as Sub Divisional Officer (SDO) in Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA). He was transferred every 2-3 years to different towns so we had to move each time. But now getting closer to his retirement, we moved back to our family home in Mansoorwali while father had to travel to work either daily or weekly. After few discussions with my parents on what to do next, we concluded that I should go for some short courses in computing to see if they can help anyway in my career. So I started with a 6 month long basic computing course at a college (MCCS) in Wazirabad.

In about three months, the passion doubled and I convinced parents to buy a personal computer taking that IT is the field to go with. The most funny thing that happened was to actually buy a printer instead of a computer because budget couldn't allow me to do so. The thought behind was that eventually I am going to need a printer anyway so why not buy what I can. That printer then sat on store shelve for few months before I actually got the budget to buy first computer. It was an Intel Pentium, 250GB storage and 512MB memory.

Meanwhile my tutor at college unfortunately fractured his leg in a road accident and management felt dire needs of filling the vacant space. Based on my abilities to learn quickly and passion about computing, I was asked to teach basic computing as substitute teacher. That's how I landed into my #FirstTechJob. I taught basic computing to individuals, groups of boys and girls, did a lot of hardware and software installations, and much more.

That was back in 2001, in Wazirabad. I studied/taught basic computing for 6 mon then web design & hardware for another 6 mon #FirstTechJob

— Jabran Rafique (@jabranr) February 22, 2016

It was just start of internet crazy times. Number of cyber cafes started to increase rapidly as not everyone could afford a PC. Internet provided a new platform for people to communicate with each other. Dialup modem connection sound was a unique thing to ears. Despite being agreed to certain amount of salary, I was rather offered an internet package in lieu of at end of my first month of the job. I hesitated once but taking all the charms and amazing world of internet I accepted it. I found it very very useful in terms of learning as it opened a whole world of possibilities to me. I learned how to email, IM and much more. Then all the sudden I became curious about behind the scenes of how a website works. That is how I entered into the world of web design, development, FrontPage, Dreamweaver, Flash and lot more that continues to day.

The best thing that I learned from this whole story was to stop keep trying to improve the same things instead choose to move on and accept new challenges. This definitely helped me that time and still helps me.