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Jonathan Z. White @JonathanZWhite
, 22 tweets, 4 min read Read on Twitter
Doing a #stories and Q&A session with @consonanceng, an amazing community of designers and engineers in Nigeria and across Africa.

Here’s a thread on how I got into design and building products👇 Feel free to ask questions 🙏

I got into programming late. My first experience with it was in high school, AP Computer Science. Funny enough, it made me feel discouraged about programming. 😫
The class was confusing. I had a hard time grasping what classes and objects were. Needless to say, I got a 2 out of 5 on the exam 😬
After graduating high school, I decided to do a degree in Computational Media at Georgia Institute of Technology. Computational Media combines computer science with HCI (human-computer interaction). 👨‍💻
Despite my not-so-great not experience with programming in high school, I wanted to give it another chance. 🙏
Thanks to a scholarship, tuition was free for Georgia Tech. However, I still had to pay rent and other living expense, ~$18k a year. 💰
My parents were not able to provide financial support, although they gave me lots of ❤️ support, so I had to figure out how to cover the costs. 😰
During my freshman year of college, I started teaching myself web development. Even though it was only basic HTML and CSS, it was *really* exciting to me. 😍

Because, unlike in high school, I understood the concepts. 😮
A few weeks after learning HTML and CSS, I had an idea💡What if… I could cover my school expenses by building websites for people? 🤔
So I started reaching out to people and companies, offering to build them websites.

Unfortunately, no one wanted to hire someone with zero experience and no portfolio. 💩
One weekend, I made a post on Reddit. Something like… “I’m a professional web developer and I would love to help you build a landing page for free”.

Emphasis on “professional” 😉 I wanted to get some experience, even if it was unpaid.
For some reason, the thread blew up. I got tons of private messages. I did one free landing page and delivered it.
Then, I had another idea 💡 What if… I could convert the rest of the private messages, into paid contracts 🤔
So I followed up with the rest of the private messages, offering a discount on my “normal rate”.

Remember, at this point, I had never done any paid work. So I had no “normal rate” 😁
Many people said no, but a handful of people were willing to pay me to build them a landing page. That’s how I started building experience and a small client base for my freelance work.🕺
It was actually thanks to the experience I built up from freelancing, that I got a front-end internship at Yahoo that freshman year 🎉

My manager really took a chance on me. I will forever be grateful to her for that 🙇‍♂️
So even though I had a few scary moments where my bank balance dipped below 0 a couple times that year, between freelancing and my internship, I was able to pay for all my school expenses 🙌
From that year on, I kept freelancing. I found a niche with early-stage startups who needed both design and development work. As a result, I was able to hone both those skills at the same time.
And… Those experiences helped get me to where I am today. 🐥 I work at @airbnbeng, I write on Medium (, and I work on tons of side-projects ( 🙏
Also, while freelancing was fun, it was stressful as well. Early on, I did such a terrible job building a web app for a client, that they refused my work and paid me $100 bucks in consolation money. 😨

Experiences like that 👆 motivated me to get better at my craft.
You might like this story 😄
Q&A time! Happy to answer any questions that you might have 🙆‍♂️
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