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Young Achiever: Zär’a giving joy with coding

Pointing the way: computer programmer Zär’a Cardell is shown with a student at ConnecTech Coding (Photograph provided)

Zär’a Cardell hopes to write himself a bright future after discovering a passion for computer coding.

The 22-year-old Warwick Academy graduate recently took part in an intensive course on the computer programming language of Python, with the support of ConnecTech and the Department of Workforce Development.

Mr Cardell said: “I have always been interested in creative expression, and programming just suits me. Some people like to make music, some people like to make art. I like coding.”

Mr Cardell said he had initially studied to become an engineer, but found his love of coding in the process.

He said: “I was in Bermuda College doing this programme where you do two years in Bermuda and then go overseas to finish up.

“I finished my two years here and I realised I was not really interested in the stuff I was doing.

“I was looking for other options and I found on YouTube this video that said coding was the perfect alterative to engineering.”

His family introduced him to Coral Wells, who founded ConnecTech Coding, a charity which teaches coding to young people between the ages of 5 and 16.

Mr Cardell began taking online courses through ConnecTech and eventually started to help teach youngsters involved in the charity’s after-school programme. He said that computer coding scratched his creative itch, and he quickly began to use his skills to make games.

Along with the joy of making the games, he said he loves to see people have fun with his creations.

He said: “One of the first things I did was Rock Paper Scissors. Every couple of months I have gone back and remade it with my new skills and each time it gets better and better.

“It’s awesome seeing people enjoy your game. It’s hard to explain. It’s satisfying. You kind of pour your creative heart and soul into something and the goal is for people to enjoy it.”

Along with Ms Wells he said John Gill, a local computer scientist, helped him develop his skills.

Mr Cardell said: “He was a big inspiration to me in the beginning. He was just awesome. He would always be super excited about what was happening and really encouraging.”

He said the course, an intensive Python “boot camp” held last month at General Assembly New York, gave him the chance to polish and develop his skills.

Mr Cardell said: “There was a real campus feel. It was awesome. There were about six people in my group and I’m pretty sure I was the youngest one there.

“There are people there who work for Spotify and all these different companies and industries taking the same course, whether to improve on what they can do or so they can jump into something else.”

He said he hopes to continue to build his skills and find a job where he can work untethered from the usual office environment.

Mr Cardell said: “I would love to be able to have a job or a project that I can do anywhere. I don’t have to be in Bermuda or in an office somewhere.”

Asked what advice he would give to other young people interested in a career in coding, he said there are a range of courses and programmes available online.

Mr Cardell said: “When I was trying to figure out the best way to do this stuff, I spoke to anyone I could find who was a professional, and the resounding thing I was told is you don’t need university. You can learn so much of it by yourself online.

“There are courses where you don’t have to go to school for it. You can do it on your own. You can build a portfolio with your own projects. You can take short courses to boost up what you know and get certifications.”

Ms Wells said she was proud to see Mr Cardell grow personally and professionally since he came to ConnecTech.

She said: “He started unsure of which programs to learn and with a little guidance and assistance his knowledge has expanded.

“His confidence in teaching has grown. He is a true testament to the new way of learning tech which is self-taught, boot camps and online classes.

“We look forward to his continued growth for starting to be involved in more development of applications.”

Source The Royal Gazette