The Way Up is Down: Building a Strong Foundation for a Successful Career in Software Engineering

The Way Up is Down: Building a Strong Foundation for a Successful Career in Software Engineering

A guide to mastering the fundamentals and staying ahead of the curve in the ever-changing world of technology.


The Way Up is Down is a typical representation of how greatness is being birth, people don't just wake up one faithful morning and become successful in careers, in their business, relationship, partnership, academics etc. They normally start at a level and rise from that level to the top. So greatness does not just start from the beginning, but like a seed, it grows until it becomes a tree and starts producing fruits.

The Tree Analogy

It is very easy to forget that the big and mighty tree producing fruits was once a seed too. With this analogy, I want to talk about the concept of "The Way Up is Down". So before I start breaking things down, I want you to have the mental picture that a tree was once a seed.

Trees don't just fall from the sky as trees, they pass through some stages to get to that level, and we will be seeing those stages right now:

Stage 1: The Planting Stage

Every tree undergoes what I call the planting stage, this is the stage where, the soil, the viability of the seed, the environment and the season are being considered.

The soil should be suitable for the seed, not just fertile because the soil might be fertile but yet not suitable for the seed. The viability of the seed matters, because if the seed is damaged or not healthy, even with suitable soil, it will not thrive, next is the environment, that is when you check if the weather condition right for that seed because that is why some seeds don't grow in some places because of the type of environment does not suite the seed.

If you are planning on being a Software Engineer, you have to consider your desire (seed) and see whether it is good enough or not, you need to ask yourself things like why do I want to go into Software Engineering, next you check your environment (mindset), is it suitable for what I want to do? As a software engineer, you will have to overcome many obstacles every single day of your life while having to face new technologies coming up every day at a very fast pace, can you have a growth mindset where you believe you can get better at what you do? Because your environment (mindset) is what you will be operating from. Finally, you need to check if your soil (gadget) is fertile and suitable. Now you don't need a very expensive gadget here, you can start with a low-budget gadget, but do you have the right gadgets intact? your laptop, mobile phone, internet connection etc, because that is what you will be using to build and learn as a software engineer.

Stage 2: The Germination Stage

After the seed must have been planted, the next thing is that the roots and shoot begin to develop, while the roots grow downwards, in search of water and nutrients, the shoot grows outwards, in search of sunlight.

In this stage, you have started searching for materials, boot camps, and training centers to start learning the basic concepts behind Software Engineering, also go out there and connect with other people in the field, as well as those that are also just venturing into the field, doing that will allow you to learn which path to take, which mistake to avoid on your journey, it will give you the plethora of opportunity to learn the ingredients that will speed up your journey.

This stage also helps you understand better what software engineering is and what software engineers do, as you connect with other software engineers.

At this stage, you don't attract many people, and your foundation is not strongly rooted yet, so you have to work on yourself to persevere even as you encounter different kinds of obstacles, from feeling burnt out to the feeling of imposter syndrome to wanting to give up, to feeling overwhelmed, these are some of the things that connect with like minds will help you to overcome, with time and efforts.

Stage 3: The Growth Stage

This is the stage where the tree is now rooted in the ground, the shoot has now become a tree with several branches, growing several fruits on each of their branches.

In this stage, because of the fruit you begin to produce, because of the things you are building and the problems you are now solving in the Software Engineering sector, people will begin to take note of your presence in the Software Engineering industry, sometimes some of them will even ask where have you been since, just like how people will not observe a tree until it starts producing fruit, then you see people flocking around the tree to eat of its fruits.

At this stage, you are not to feel relaxed and forget why you started the journey in the first place, you are to sit back and restrategize on how not just to produce fruits, but to produce better fruits that can produce good seeds tomorrow because you could remember, you were also once a seed that grew to a tree, so you should also make sure it does not stop with you, but that the process of Seed Stage, Germination Stage and Growth Stage keeps going. This simply means you can now give back to the system, your support, your advice, your experience, your resources and even your mentorship can do that for you, let it be that those coming after you will be better and more refined than you, that way you will not only be a good software engineer, but a fulfilled one.


My focus might as well be on Software Engineering, but this same path applies to anything you have set out your mind to do. Remember this:

Every tree was once a potential seed and every seed is a potential seed.

My name is Gideon Bature, and at the time of writing this article, I am a student of ALX Software Engineering, I look forward to connecting with you on Twitter and LinkedIn. Thank you as you connect with me.