CAREER OF THE WEEK
GUEST: ISAAC BANDA
Name of Institution: Malawi Investment and Trade Centre
Position: ICT Officer
Fact: If you can read this article, know that you are a consumer of a Computer Scientist’s handiwork. In all earnest, Computer Science is one of the least understood professions around. This is so ironical considering that most of us, eat, drink, sleep, and dream of computers day in day out. Simply put, if you’re in the 21st century, you can’t survive without a computer.
So, who is a Computer Scientist? What do they do? Is the career that rewarding? Well, stay put as our guest this week, ISAAC BANDA, an ICT Officer with Malawi Investment and Trade Centre, and also the Proprietor for J.I SMART SOLUTIONS explains more about what Computer Science is all about.
Profile by Gibson C Kamanga
I am a fourth born in a family of 7. I am married and I have a son.
In my childhood days, I had wanted to become a pilot. I was fascinated with airplanes. I really wanted to know what makes them fly, why is it that it flies yet cars do not, how do you start and stop it and whether you can land in the space or not? Those questions were eating much of my time. I wondered why my toy airplanes when I threw them in the air, they would still be falling back to the ground. But growing up, God had other plans with my life and I ended up studying Computer Science.
I did my primary education in so many places. However, I got my MSCE at Umbwi Secondary School in Dedza. I then proceed to get a Diploma in Computer Studies at National College of Information Technology (NACIT), and then a Bachelor of Science Degree Majoring in Computer Science from the University of Malawi, Chancellor College.
I was introduced to the world of computers by my brother. He used to bring home his office laptop. All I could manage to do then was play games. Then, I become so interested in it so much that my brother suggested that I applied for aptitude test at NACIT. I sat for the test, got selected and started my studies at Lilongwe campus. After finishing my Diploma, I applied for a Bachelor of Science Degree at Chancellor College where I majored in Computer Science. While there, I also had a privilege of studying Demography and Economics.
A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A COMPUTER SCIENTIST
Who is a Computer Scientist?
Computer scientists are generally trained to invent, design something new and find innovative uses for existing technologies in order to solve problems or improve solutions in a variety of fields. In Malawi, we are often hired to do software development, websites development, and managing company systems and their computer networks.
A day in the life of a Computer Scientist
Days of computer scientists vary from one person to another depending on the post you are hired for. As for me, when I wake up in the morning at 5:00 AM, I wake up with plans for the day in place. This is the case because I plan on going to sleep every night. Now when I get to the office, the first things to check are network and internet availability. After that, I check if all our systems and servers are working. From there, I then proceed to work on activities for the day that involve updating systems, improving the design/functionality of a software or websites, researching on new solutions for our office’s computing problems, resolving systems’ problems that may arise during the day, threat monitoring and prevention, updating information on our portals and corporate website.
I normally sleep after 11:00 PM each day.
A busy day for a Computer Scientist
Normally, I always have something to do. However, the busiest day is when you have encountered a problem you have never met before and you are researching and trying to implement what you are learning while users keep calling your phone looking for assistance to help them solve another problem. And at the same time, you have another programming project which is waiting for your attention. This is the moment you have to learn to prioritize your tasks and also communicate effectively so that no one should feel ignored.
TO ASPIRING COMPUTER SCIENTISTS
Possible challenges for a Computer Scientist
- In our country ICT is a field which is just developing. Not many organizations have fully gone digital in all their processes. As a result, ICT is not valued as it should and often it is looked at as a cost centre – something that wastes company’s money. This becomes a problem whenever you try to push for new ideas
- Change is difficult to implement. Many people are not willing to change the way they work. ICT often brings disruption to the way people work. So, you really have to work hard and persevere to ensure your new ideas have been adopted and implemented.
- ICT is not cheap. It is expensive. Often many organizations want good technology which, unfortunately, their cash flow cannot sustain. So, your challenge as a computer scientist is know how to balance the two; offering good technology while reducing its implementation costs.
Attributes of a would-be Computer Scientist
- You have to be passionate about ICT. Passion is what drives creativity in our field and eventually brings success
- You have to learn to communicate effectively because often you communicate to teams on how a particular system works or you have to convince someone to adopt a new system
- You have to be good at problem-solving
- You have to be ethical. Often we have access to sensitive information which can’t be shared anyhow or which cannot even be shared.
- Have a never-give-up attitude. Often in this field, you meet cases that you have never experienced before or learnt in class. Yet, your company relies on you to find a solution
- Rewards of being a Computer Scientist
Yes, this is a rewarding field. Most companies pay good packages. Apart from being employed, you can work as a consultant in ICT. Like in my case, I own a start-up ICT company named JI Smart Solutions and I have been able to work on several consultancies during my free time. In fact, my long-term dream is to quit my job and grow the business to a profitable and sustainable level.
- Take-home message to aspiring Computer Scientists
My message to the aspiring computer scientist is that any vision is achievable as long as we put our heart on it and trust that God will be with us. If you have a vision, start working on it today. Take action now. Any vision without action is just a daydream. This life has no remote. So you have got to get up and change it yourself. You will face challenges along the way. But don’t give up. Recognize that any challenge you face is a small price you have to pay in order to achieve your dream.
You can get to know more about Isaac Banda by clicking on these links;
Facebook Pages: https://web.facebook.com/Isaac.Banda