When I asked to speak with 28-year-old Marzuwq Muhammad, a software engineer with Bank of America in Wilmington, I was surprised to hear a male voice reply, “Sure, I am his secretary, I will get him.” After leaving me speechless for a few seconds, Muhammad laughingly let me in on the joke and told me he was only messing with me.
Muhammad’s journey into the tech world is just as colorful as his personality. Before completing a course with Zip Code Wilmington, he held numerous jobs, such as being a member of Best Buy’s Geek Squad, a gas station attendant and a band manager.
“I have had a lot of jobs, even for my age,” Muhammad said, adding that there is a big difference between cleaning viruses from hard drives, like he did on the Geek Squad, and building software to run computers. “But I have always been drawn to technology.”
He admits that although he always wanted to learn how to write software because computers are used every aspect of life, he was intimidated by the task.
“I was intimidated by it because it seemed it hard and frustrating to learn,” he explained. “After I gave it a try, I saw that it wasn’t harder than any other skill I have had to learn.”
Muhammad decided to take the leap into “the other side of tech” after he tried his hand at building software and created a game.
“I built a game for Native Arcade, the band I used to manage, and sent it out to our fans on our email list,” he said. “Once I saw the positive response, I knew this was something I could do.”
A few months later he enrolled in Zip Code Wilmington, a coding bootcamp that received national recognition from the U.S. Department of Education last year. During the 12-week program, Muhammad said he learned a lot about the ins and outs of coding and how to go about getting a job in such a competitive field.
“Being a part of Zip Code Wilmington, taught me more than actual coding. It showed me how to survive on this side of tech, prepare for a job interview, negotiate salaries and I was able to make tons of friends,” said Muhammad, who still goes back to Zip Code as a mentor from time to time.
While the program prepared Muhammad for his position as a software engineer, he was still surprised by some of his daily duties and projects.
“At Zip Code, we were given a project and told we needed to have it completed by the end of the week,” he said. “We were given a lot of hard deadlines”
“But, since starting at Bank of America, I realized that as a new person coming in you are not given as many responsibilities as you think you would get. When I first started, I thought everything I worked on would have an immediate effect on the company, but now I know that there are many levels of testing that projects go through, before actual customers see them.”
Muhammad, who has aspirations of starting his own game design studio one day, has some advice for others like him who may be too afraid to take the leap into the tech world.
“Before you jump into it, play around on websites, like Code Academy, to see if you actually like it. Start off with the basics and try it out. If the process intrigues you, go for it.”
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