Growing Up

Locked INside

Published on

an image depicting how school, like a chain tied lock, traps us into seeing life in a narrow distorted view

"What advice do you have for me?" He asked

"I'll get back to you in a minute I replied." 

It's been a week now and I'm still as confused as I was a week ago.

The Genius

You're probably scratching your head wondering what this is all about. You see, many moons ago, when I was in the land of memorizing formulas and reciting useless facts, I was good friends with this person. I still am but you know how distance mutes a lot of stuff. So after not being in the same physical space for lightyears, we finally got to meet.

He explained about how he, A recently graduated student, had spent several years confined in what I call an academic prison. An academic prison that has guaranteed employment after you leave it, but a prison nonetheless. 

He then went on to elaborate on how easy it is to forget how the real world is like after being trapped in such a prison. And asked "What skills do I need to learn between now and being deployed at work?" I thought this would be an easy answer and dedicated a few minutes to think about it. And it turns out that this is a really hard question. I've been failing to come up with anything meaningful.

Let's take another shot today.

Skill 1:


Goodness me! The thing called tax completely ruins your income. You need to know the difference between your GROSS salary and your NET salary. This will be incredibly helpful when looking to move onto the next job.

Figure out what the tax is in that country, download tax tables and figure out how much your net income will be. In Zimbabwe, the Zimra website has a nice little PDF with a few worked examples to help guide you.

ACTION: Head over to the Zimra website using this link.

Do that after you finish reading this blog post.

Skill 2:


There's always politics wherever you are, regardless of the industry you are in. Communication makes the difference between you getting sabotaged and you staying at your job for a decade.

ACTION: Actions speak louder than words. Our bodies are poor at keeping secrets. Find out about this thing about non verbal communication. Learn to see beyond what people say with their deceptive mouths.

Skill 3:

Clean up your room! 

You see, when you move from home, you quickly discover that if you leave your trousers on the floor, you will find them there. Staring at you. If you don't move it, it won't move itself. You had better learn good housekeeping now.

Skill 4:


You need to make cooking healthy food a good habit. The great thing about healthy food [in Zimbabwe] is that it's cheap too! This means that you'll be teaching yourself to save!

Skill 5:


...and track where you go off track

We make budgets. And we are rarely to them. Why? Because we don't know where things go wrong. We just say "I can't believe how much I spent on ...."

What I did when I had budget issues was to track where my budget starts to go astray. I figured it was because my budget was boring. If there was no money set aside for entertainment [trivial as it may was] in my budget, I would end up ditching my budget and regretting it afterwards.

Find out what you get wrong and take remedial action.

Skill 6:


At work, you make concessions all day. You negotiate to get the best office space. You negotiate to work in the shift with the least troublesome workmates. You negotiate to get a computer [that actually works without having to call IT every morning]. You win some deals, and you lose some. If you are a poor negotiator, you will get used at work. Learn to negotiate

ACTION: Look for negotiation books and videos on the internet.

Skill 7:

Get acquainted with the latest digital technologies that are relevant in your field.

Find out what digital technologies are used quite frequently and get to learn them A.S.A.P.

I'll just list a few:

#1. The Google Suite

You need to know how to do the following:

- Edit documents & collaborate with others using Google Docs. 

- Create a basic spreadsheet using Google Sheets

- Share and save files using Google Drive

- Send and receive emails using GMAIL

#2. Planning - For Projects & More

You need to know how to do the following:

- Create a gantt chart using MS Projects, Google Sheets, or Excel

- Create a kanban board using a physical whiteboard, a Google Sheets document, via Trello boards, etc.

- Update your gantt chart and/or kanban board using whichever tool you are using

- Share THAT gantt chart with your team mates

This will be useful when you do the following:

Plan for a project (Varsity Students, Project Managers, Teachers, Administrators, Freelancers, YouTubers, etc).

Everything needs planning.

#3. The Microsoft Suite

If by some miracle you managed to escape it, I have come to rekindle your fears. It's time to face them. Learn the office suite.

You need to know how to do the following:

- Create a Microsoft Word Document

- Edit & Save a Microsoft Word Document

- Share a Microsoft Word Document

- Create, Edit and Save a basic Excel document

- Create, Edit and Save a basic PowerPoint document

- Add a few animations and pictures to your PowerPoint document without pulling your teeth out. 

This will be useful when you decide to create your little business. The Microsoft Word document is where you will put in your wild business projections and create your business plan. You will also store the progress to date in a Word document.

You will use a PowerPoint document to get good money from prospective investors. Put in a FEW animations to make yourself look like an expert.

Your excel document is where you will make your business calculations. That's how you will come up with your wildly inaccurate gross profit, margins, EBIDTA, etc.

#4. Talking to other people via the Internet

One day, you will need to present whatever you are researching to other people - your bosses, investors, etc. Or, you may need to share your views with other people. Gone are the days where the only way to do that was to go on the Radio or on TV. Now you need to know how to talk to other important people via the Internet.

The software tools i'll focus on are:

Microsoft Teams - Because Zoom has annoying limits if you don't pay and most organizations are run by cheapskates who don't believe in software licences.

Zoom - Because people who pay for software licences still exist

There is a thing called netiquette. That means etiquette for people on the internet. You need to know the following basics:

  1. Finding that link given to you. I cannot tell you how many times i've been in a meeting that get's delayed by 30 minutes because the invited guests cannot find the link.
  2. Join the meeting with your microphone and camera turned off. Please, please, I beg you, don't join a meeting with your microphone on. It is horribly annoying. I always wonder why people can't follow such basic manners. SHUT YOUR BLOODY MIC AND CAMERA OFF PEOPLE!
  3. Raise your hand when you want to say something. Both Zoom and Microsoft teams have such features. You click on a little "raise hand" button and you are given the opportunity to speak.
  4. Learn to unmute your microphone when it is your turn to speak.
  5. Don't tell us about why you were late to the meeting. WE DON'T BLOODY CARE! Just shut up and listen attentively to what's going on. 

#5. Talking to Other People By Yourself

At times, you need to create a platform for other people to listen to you. Maybe you are a doctor and you are tasked with communicating some important stuff about drug abuse and YOU urgently need to raise awareness. There are many ways of doing so.

I'm going to focus on two ways:

Video and Audio.

You need to learn really basic video and audio editing skills. 


You need to learn how to take a video, save it to your computer, perform basic video editing tasks and publish it to wherever you want to.

Platforms for publishing videos are: YouTube, Instagram (Short Videos), Twitter (Short Videos), TikTok (Short Videos), WhatsApp (Short Videos), etc.

Awesome Software tool:

Kdenlive - i love this one because it's cross platform. If you don't know what that means, just ignore it and move on.


Maybe you need to share a quick audio. In this case, you need to learn how to take an audio recording, save it to your computer and perform noise reduction. 

Bonus tips: Get a good microphone, record in a quiet room or use a blanket to make the room quiet (search on google how musicians do this. You'll get a lot of good tips). 

Awesome Software tool:

Audacity - i love this one because it's cross platform. If, again, you don't know what cross platform means, then it's ok. Move on and pretend you didn't see that phrase.

If you just can't get over this mysterious phrase, then google it. You're going to learn a lot about computers after doing that!

Platforms to share your audios:

Podcast: Spotify, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, etc.

Social Media Platforms: Whatsapp, Twitter, etc.

#6 Create Graphics

You're going to need this for many reasons. Perhaps you wanna create a poster for a gig you want your staff members to attend. Or maybe you are selling chickens and want to make a quick advert to post to your social media page. You need to learn how to create posters on the fly.

There are a few options to consider.

If you have fast, reliable internet access, here are a few great options:

Canva - It's pretty simple to make posters and they have billions of photos waiting for you.

Adobe Creative Cloud (formerly Adobe Spark) - Another great option. There are many photos waiting for you. High quality photos.


Lunacy - cross platform. I love it. Incredibly easy to learn

GIMP - harder to learn than lunacy. But loved by millions. Also cross platform.

Adobe Photoshop - I don't have the magic required to use this sorcery. But some people love it. Many people love it. People who are not me. Maybe you will love it.

Blender - I don't have the book of spells required to even begin to comprehend how this magical application works. Pros love it. I don't know why. Maybe you'll love it too.

And I left out something very important. There are things called copyrights, and it turns out that people actually get mad if you use their things without telling them. However, there are nice people on the internet who give away pictures for free. Check out sites like Unsplashed and Pexels to get free images that won't come to haunt you later.

The same applies for videos and audios. I'd forgotten that. Search for sites that offer free stuff. Along the way you'll learn the meaning of the phrases Creative Commons and Attribution.

#7 Unleash your Nerdiness to the World!

If you have a good internet connection and a bit of free cash, there are some wonderful courses out there that will give you the practical skills needed to do really awesome things.

#1. Mobile App Development

Create a simple application that does something simple. Here's an Idea. Create a simple calculator application. Or even better, make a one page app that reads "You are rich!" That's an awesome affirmation, and an easy app to make. 

The best framework to dive into at the moment is flutter. Dive into flutter and dart. Where? Buy Dr Angela Yu's Flutter course on Udemy. 

#2. Web Development

Create a website that looks dope. Make it interactive. 

Where do I get the learning material? Dr Angela Yu on Udemy!

This could come in handy when you have a business you wanna create. Why hire a developer to make your startup's website when you can do it yourself?

#3. Contribute to open source projects

Find projects you can contribute to in any way. This could be improving the code (refactoring), or just helping out with language translations or making the documentation clearer.

#4. Learn GIT

Version control is something you need to know. All aspiring Automation, and Software Engineers need to be well acquainted with GIT.

Well, that brings us to the end of the blogpost. I surely hope i've come up with something meaningful.

Enjoyed it? I knew you would! Be a good person and share this blogpost with your friends : ). You can also follow me on twitter @maputiatota

Didn’t enjoy it? Perhaps this wasn’t a good fit. Try going through these and see if there’s any you’ll fancy.

See you next week Wednesday!