How I Became a Digital Technologist


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I gave a slightly edited version of this presentation to a group of high school juniors and seniors, on Career Day, during which I talked about my experiences and how I became a 'digital technologist'.

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  • Let’s start with a little tech primer, shall we?
  • How many of you have or have used a desktop computer?
  • How about a laptop or netbook?
  • How many of you own or have used a mobile phone?
  • How about a smartphone, like an iPhone or an Android?
  • Does anyone have or have used a tablet, like a Kindle Fire, iPad or Surface?
  • What about an iPod or MP3 player?
  • How many of you have ever used the internet?
  • Who knows what Facebook is? How many of you have a Facebook page or have used it?
  • YouTube?
  • What about Twitter?
  • Have you used search engines like Google, Yahoo or Bing?
  • How many of you send text messages?
  • Have you ever downloaded an app from the app store?
  • Or made a purchase from your phone?
  • You’re probably wondering why I’m asking all these questions. Well it’s simple. If you’ve done any of the things I’ve asked you about, then you have a little bit of an idea of what I do.
  • I’m a technologist. I’m a person who specializes in technology. My specialties are in the areas of web, mobile web, web and mobile apps, tablet and digital technologies.
  • I’ve worked for a number of different companies over the years, working on different projects for different brands, building my knowledge. You’ve probably never heard of most of the companies I’ve worked for, but that’s okay.
  • Sounds cool right? So now you’re probably wondering how you can do what I do. Well here’s how I got started.
  • School. I wasn’t some sort of techno genius like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs or Michael Dell. Do you guys know who I’m talking about? No? Then stay in school! I went to Incarnation, then Notre Dame High School, followed by Rutgers University, where I got my undergraduate degree in economics and finally, my law degree from Seton Hall.
  • After law school, my wife and I started an intellectual property law firm, where we represented artists and entertainers. Essentially, we helped people who created any kind of content: books, songs, paintings, records, computer programs, software, hardware. We help protect their rights.
  • One day these two young entrepreneurs walked into the office and asked me to help them start a company, called Digiwaxx – and I did. I got the technology bug when we developed the Digital Waxx Service, a way to send thousands of records to DJs across the globe digitally, with the click of a mouse. Today, Digiwaxx is one of the largest promotions companies in the world. They helped launch the careers of hundreds of underground artists, like Drake, Kendrick Lamar, Wale, Soldier Boy, just to name a few.
  • After Digiwaxx, I joined a company called Marksmen Productions, which was formed by one of my friends from Princeton University He was a computer science major, and he wanted my help to launch a product he was developing called DOT.TUNES. DT let you access your iTunes library remotely over any device that could get on the internet. It was my first mobile app. In 2007, when Apple launched the iPhone, we had one of the first apps available for the iPhone.
  • After The Marksmen, I was recruited to work for a mobile marketing company called MX Telecom. They were a Tier 1 aggregator, which means that they had connections to all the major telephone carriers. What they did was provide the back end support for all the texting that people do. Millions of text messages a day passed over their networks, and I helped companies set up their mobile marketing campaigns – getting short codes, creating calls-to-action and helping their mobile marketing campaigns get approved by the carriers.
  • From MX Telecom, I went to work for a start-up mobile content company called FonLabs. They were a boutique technology firm in San Francisco, that owned thousands of billboards across the country, and wanted to offer their clients the ability to add mobile marketing to their marketing campaigns.
  • A bigger company, that made mobile apps, called Kiwitech hired me after FonLabs. KiwiTech is where I learned a ton about apps. They had developed over 400 apps for clients like the United Nations, libraries and universities. They hired me because they saw that I had an entertainment background and wanted to get into developing apps in the media space.
  • I was with KiwiTech for about a year and a half before an even bigger company came calling, Usablenet, which I’ve already told you a little bit about. Today, I’m a senior project manager and I own my projects from end-to-end. That means if something goes wrong, I’m to blame and when things go right, I get all the credit.
  • But that’s my story. There is no right or wrong way to get there. Mine is just one path. What you want to do whether it’s technology or not is up to you.
  • Whatever it is that you want to do, it should be something that moves you. Anybody can have a job. Anyone can have a career. But you don’t want to wake up and ever hate what it is that you do. Or go to work just to get money. You should figure out what it is that you like to do and do it.
  • I love technology. That’s why I do what I do. What do you want to do?
  • How I Became a Digital Technologist

    1. 1. Presented to Patrick F. Healy Middle School East Orange, New Jersey by Stephen C. Chukumba, Jr. May 16, 2013
    2. 2. 76% of households own a personal computer
    3. 3. 26% of Americans own a laptop
    4. 4. 91% own a mobile phone
    5. 5. 55% own a smart phone
    6. 6. 42% own a tablet computer
    7. 7. 350 million iPods have been purchased
    8. 8. 72% of Americans use the internet
    9. 9. 1.19 billion users monthly
    10. 10. over 1 billion unique visitors monthly
    11. 11. over 645 million users
    12. 12. 500 million unique searches a day
    13. 13. 145 billion text messages sent last year
    14. 14. $15 billion earned by app developers
    15. 15. $185 billion annual wireless revenue
    16. 16. Went to School
    17. 17. Practiced Intellectual Property Law
    18. 18. Ran a Digital Promotions company
    19. 19. Launched an App Company
    20. 20. Dove into mobile
    21. 21. Managed a mobile content company
    22. 22. Hawked mobile apps
    23. 23. Landed at a mobile agency… …catering to Fortune 500 brands