Q: Nazneen kindly tell us about yourself.
A: I was born in Peshawar, I studied at the Malakand Public School before moving to Abbottabad from where I completed my schooling. I later came back to Peshawar for further studies. I wanted to be a doctor after clearing my FSc but due to some mishaps, I wasn’t able to fulfil my dream of becoming one. Therefore, after FSc I switched to Computer Science and got a BIT degree from University of Peshawar. Following that, I chose web development as my profession. I started my professional career at the IT Park, Deans Trade Centre and got my first training at the Gravity IT Solutions. After this I joined different software houses and gained experience in web development. I also joined DoIT (Directorate of IT) as an internee in web and got certified. During my training in DoIT, I came to know about the KP Civic Innovation Fellowship Program and applied for it. I was selected as a web developer in this program. During the Fellowship, I worked on an application for the KP Traffic Police Department.
Q: You wanted to be a doctor but you shifted your domain towards the IT sector? How did this change happen?
A: Well to be honest, becoming a doctor was my passion but due to ineffective results of ETEA I couldn’t accomplish my goal and was heartbroken. So I never tried the ETEA test again and diverted my mind from that domain completely. Afterwards, I entered into the field of IT and realized that my performance was much better in this field so I decided to continue with it. At the present, I’m very glad that I switch my field to IT and chose web development as a profession.
Q: Are you satisfied with changing your field? After so many years, have you felt any regret on your past decisions?
A: I am very satisfied with my decision and have no regrets about my choice. When I completed my studies, I had to choose a career; I talked to a lot of people and asked them for their recommendations. Subsequently, after exploring my skills and interest the outcome was to select web development as a career. After working for a couple of months I realized that I have taken the right step to utilize my skills in the desired field. Currently, I am very happy with my field; I have learnt a lot of new things and have discovered a lot of new concepts.
Q: You are working as Full-stack Web Developer. Why did you choose web development as career choice?
A: When I chose web as my career, my interest was in Coding (PHP) and Photoshop. Towards my final semester, I developed my final year project in PHP which polished my skills. Since this field is completely practical and less theoretical I got more and more inclined towards it.
Soon after graduation, I took extra courses on web development and designing. Simultaneously I started working in different software houses as a Web Developer and with the passage of time I was gaining more and more knowledge which further increased my curiosity level and made me eager to learn even more.
Q: You have also done certification in freelancing from Basecamp Peshawar. How do you manage your freelance work with the job/Fellowship?
A: My professional career started with a software house named Gravity IT Solutions. Sequentially acquiring experience from one after another software house, a time came when I was not able to continue work. At this stage, a friend of mine told me about freelancing and suggested I give it a try. Thankfully I came by an advertisement of a freelancing workshop being held at the Basecamp. After attending it, I made an account on a famous freelancing platform and started earning money from home. It was not a hurdle for me to manage my freelance projects with my office work; I mostly completed my freelance projects on weekends and after office hours.
Q: How did you come to know about the KP Civic Innovation Fellowship Program? What compelled you to join this program?
A: Well, no such coincidence lies here, I came to know about it from one of my batchmates. When I was working as an internee in ITEC, one of our batchmates shared an advertisement of the Fellowship Program on Facebook. Following that, I started thinking about this program and went to Code for Pakistan’s website to explore it further. I learnt that the main goal of this program was to work for the welfare of the public of KP i.e. reducing the gap between the government and its public through digitization, and encouraging the public through technology-based learning. At the Fellowship Program, I have had the opportunity to learn new terms, techniques and technologies which have greatly contributed to my professional life.
Q: How do you think this program is different from other local tech-based contractors and programs?
A: This program is different from the others in so many ways; like, I have learnt so many technologies (Slack, Trello, and GitHub) and have polished my skills more efficiently. Here we are familiarized with open data and different open source technologies. I learnt to work in a team, innovate, ideate, to learn from other’s skills and experiences and so on. Likewise, I have learnt how to deal with the government, how to work with them and cope with them with respect. The Fellowship Program provides a supportive environment, and opportunities for women developers and designers. I am glad that I’m part of this program and had a chance to develop apps collectively to improve public services and make citizens’ lives better.
Q: Till date, how do you find this Fellowship Program and how do you think this program will help you reshape your future?
A: As a matter of fact, I found this program very helpful and effective in every aspect, whether looking for future job opportunities, entrepreneurship, skill development or knowledge sharing. This program and the staff is very compassionate, encouraging and supportive. Here, knowledge sharing opportunities were massive and the sessions conducted were very informative. In addition, working and dealing with the government via this platform was a fortunate thing for all of us. The experience I have gained during this program by working with advanced technologies will help me a lot in the future.
Q: So apart from web development, how do you make the best of your free time?
A: Well, web development is my passion and much of my time is consumed in development. However besides this, whenever I find some leisure time I try to spend that with my family. I also like to spend time with kids, watching animated movies, cooking and playing badminton. I am fond of arts also and create many different kinds of handicrafts. Whenever I have a chance, I enjoy sketching and freelancing. Apart from what I have mentioned above I also know how to use Photoshop where I put on fictional objects in a way I want and have also designed a couple of website templates.
Q: Whom do you consider as an inspiration and why?
A: I have many inspirations but one of them is Maria Umar. When I was at Basecamp for the freelance workshop, I meet Ma’am Maria Umar who is the President and Founder of Women’s Digital League Program (WDL). WDL has been operating since 2010 as a sole proprietorship and it aims to empower Pakistani women through capacity building, skills development and training in digital work.
Q:If Nazneen Shafiq had not been a Web Developer, what would she be doing right now?
A: As I had mentioned before in this interview, I had a craze to be a doctor since childhood. Till FSc I studied medical textbooks but I was left heartbroken after my unsuccessful ETEA medical test. Hence, if I would not be a developer right now, certainly and undoubtedly I would have been a doctor.
Q: Any words you’ll like to share with youngsters opting for IT, especially web development as career choice?
A: I would suggest that IT is a vast field where you can develop your expertise in database management, software management, networks, and can also switch to finance and accounting etc. Choose the path in which you’re most interested. If you like to code, a relevant route can be followed, if it’s PHP or ASP, one can choose web development as career choice. You can be a front-end developer or back-end developer and if you enjoy both then you can become a full stack developer. Learning takes time and after stepping in the software development field you have to be very patient as it takes some time to become an expert.