How I transformed from pharmacy to programming

Ahmad Ali
3 min readFeb 15, 2021


I’m a pharmacist with a degree in pharmacy and pharmaceutical chemistry from Damascus University graduated in 2016. It was a 5 years long course in a domain I don’t like and I don’t have any motivation towards it, but this was the choice of my parents, so when I first started I took a look at the 60 courses in the curriculum and felt scared, so I ran away.

Then I went back to another institute called Higher Institute of Applied Sciences and Technology (HIAST) which is the top scientific institute in Syria. I passed all the entry tests, and those were the hardest tests I’ve ever seen in my life. I studied computer science there for a month. During that month my parents kept persuading me that they need a medical career.

Under pressure and my parents’ dreams of their “social rank boost” if they had a pharmacist son I went back to study pharmacy. For the next 5 years, I faced a lot of low motivation moments, cause what drove me here was not my own motivation.

Quickly I learned that the motivation you don’t will be a burden, so I have invented my own motivation which was that I don’t start a project and leave it uncompleted. This has helped me to continue my studies and graduate with an 80% GPA.

Later on in my life, my motivation towards computers and programming did not go away., and I did not find the promised after graduation life. So in 2018 -after 2 years of graduation- I started teaching myself the basics of programming and computer science as a self-taught or self-directed learner using open-source books and youtube tutorials.

But soon I realised this is not the best way to reach anywhere, cause there was no defined roadmap and there is a lot to learn. So I searched for help and I ended up getting a scholarship from Kiron Open Higher Education Institute. Their idea was to give people access to learning resources. So I completed 35 online courses in 2 years on platforms like Edx and Coursera.

Kiron Idea was very helpful cause it contains a roadmap and they are not a bunch of randomly collected courses. So I finished these courses with a concentration on web development. Then I decided that there is still a lot to learn so I took an open-source online Bootcamp called Free Code Camp. In 2020, I started assisting in teaching web development basics to newbies at Code Your Future coding school in the UK. And I felt that I lack the theoretical fundamentals of computer science due to the lack of formal education, so I started a computer science degree at University of the People.

I believe that the internal motivation is much stronger and will last longer, cause I did with 2 years of intrinsic motivation more than what I’ve done in 6 years of extrinsic motivation.

In the ‘era’ of extrinsic motivation -between 2011 to 2017- I found it hard to keep motivated with a motivation you don’t own, so I ended up extracting an intrinsic motivation from that extrinsic one in order to keep me going.

This article was originally submitted by me for UNIV1101 course at UoPeople.