DevDays: A Resounding Success!

ronica-at-devdaysWell, the big day has come and gone, and the event was a resounding success!

On Saturday 12 May, IT varsity held its first ever DevDays, and it was successful beyond anyone’s expectations. DevDays was attended by awesome students from various institutes as well as experienced developers from companies in the Durban area. There were a lot of interesting topics discussed, and everyone left more enlightened. And above all, everyone had a great time. Check out the pics on IT varsity’s Facebook page.

The idea behind DevDays is to start something: to bring developers and aspiring developers together to talk, to teach and  to learn. The long term vision is to create a thriving, buzzing tech community in the Durban area, and to get more young people interested in IT. By all indications, this was achieved, because most attendees were already wondering when the next DevDays will be!

But don’t take our word for it – see what some of the visitors had to say:

 More and more events like this…they are very educational! Sandile

This wasn’t just about talks, but it was more practical and we actually see and understand the code behind everything. Sakhwamuzi

It was marvelous! It encouraged me to learn more about IT and programming. Sabelo

Interesting and relevant content. Hayley

All I can say is, what DevDays offered for free is more useful than what we pay for nowadays. Ngcebo

This is a fantastic step in the right direction for building tech communities around South Africa. Sipho

With great feedback like this, it’s hard not to consider organising another DevDays…

Cellphones spur reading revolution

BOOKstackThis article was originally published on ITWeb

Mobile phones could help to enhance literacy rates in emerging markets, where physical books are in many cases outnumbered by cellphones.


Do’s and Don’ts in an Interview

Sitting for interviews can be extremely stressful. Being called for an interview is good news, because it means you’ve made it throught the initial stages and have been short-listed; but an interview is also your last chance to either land that job you want (need?) or to blow it.

With a fair amount of preparation, though, and some tips from experts, you can greatly increase your chances of getting that job of your dreams. Below are some tips from Yawar Baig, internationally-renowned business and leadership consultant, and president of leadership consulting and training company Yawar Baig and Associates.

Uploaded on authorSTREAM by yawarbaig

IT varsity DevDays

devdays-bannerThere’s a lot of excitement at IT varsity about the upcoming IT varsity DevDays event. To be perfectly honest, prior to proposing the idea of DevDays, I did not expect such a positive response from IT varsity staff.

What really took me by surprise, though, was the overwhelming response from IT varsity students. The instant they were told about DevDays, they took to it like ducks to water, and wanted to know how they could get involved. Some students began to throw their ideas around, and I must admit, many of those ideas were really good!

Everyone is excited to be a art of such a unique event in Durban, but more than that, everyone is really energised about the opportunity to empower others with tech skills.

“We rise by lifting others”

It is really going to be an amazing event, for a number of reasons:

1. Durban is generally overlooked in favour of Cape Town and Johannesburg when it comes to events like this. There are a lot of events taking place at various venues in other cities, but Durban is not usually seen as a viable option because, as one organizer mentioned to me, “there aren’t enough developers in Durban”. I can say from experience that this is a gross misunderstanding, because when we organized the BBJam at the Durban University of Technology last year, there were over 50 participants from Durban!

I believe that it’s a 2-way road: if we create the opportunities, more and more people will take interest and turn up for these events. If we stay with the mentality that there aren’t enough developers in Durban then, well, there will not be enough developers in Durban.

2. We’re taking things to a new level. Yes, there are lots of Developer events around the country, but a large number of them are totally ineffective: either they turn out to be nothing more than marketing ploys, or the quality of the sessions is truly sad, and you leave with nothing more than you arrived with.

At IT varsity DevDays we want to provide an event of international standards, where attendees will leave inspired and with a sense of having empowered themselves with new skills. And the programme we’ve planned is set to achieve just that.

3. We’re trying to make it the first of many. In other countries, particularly in the US, there are countless events for developers taking place throughout the year. The problem here is that even when these events do take place, it’s usually a once-off thing with no follow up at all, leaving developers with a thirst for more but nothing to go on.

Our plan is to make this the first of many such events, perhaps every quarter if possible. Not only that, but we’re keen on setting up groups and forums where developers can keep in touch on an ongoing basis.

All in all, we firmly believe that Durban has a lot of talent, and DevDays is one of the mechanisms that we can use to spot and harness this talent.

See you at DevDays!

Eat brain food for better studying?? Yip! It works!

This article was originally published by  Top Universities

Many of our IT Varsity students will be starting with assessments soon. If you are also preparing for exams or upcoming assessments, then give yourself the best chance with these top ten study tips.

1. Give yourself enough time to study

Don’t leave it until the last minute. While some students do seem to thrive on last-minute ‘cramming’, it’s widely accepted that for most of us, this is not the best way to approach an exam. Set out a timetable for your study. Write down how many exams you have and the days on which you have to sit them. Then organize your study accordingly. You may want to give some exams more study time than others, so find a balance that you feel comfortable with.

2. Organize your study space

Make sure you have enough space to spread your textbooks and notes out. Have you got enough light? Is your chair comfortable? Are your computer games out of sight?

Try and get rid of all distractions, and make sure you feel as comfortable and able to focus as possible. For some people, this may mean almost complete silence; for others, background music helps. Some of us need everything completely tidy and organized in order to concentrate, while others thrive in a more cluttered environment. Think about what works for you, and take the time to get it right.

3Use flow charts and diagrams

Visual aids can be really helpful when revising. At the start of a topic, challenge yourself to write down everything you already know about a topic – and then highlight where the gaps lie. Closer to the exam, condense your revision notes into one-page diagrams. Getting your ideas down in this brief format can then help you to quickly recall everything you need to know during the exam.

4. Practice on old exams

One of the most effective ways to prepare for exams is to practice taking past versions. This helps you get used to the format of the questions, and – if you time yourself – can also be good practice for making sure you spend the right amount of time on each section.

5. Explain your answers to others

Parents and little brothers and sisters don’t have to be annoying around exam time! Use them to your advantage. Explain an answer to a question to them. That will help you to get it clear in your head, and also to highlight any areas where you need more work.

6. Organize study groups with friends

Get together with friends for a study session. You may have questions that they have the answers to and vice versa. As long as you make sure you stay focused on the topic for an agreed amount of time, this can be one of the most effective ways to challenge yourself.

7. Take regular breaks

While you may think it’s best to study for as many hours as possible, this can actually be counterproductive. If you were training for a marathon, you wouldn’t try and run 24 hours a day! Likewise studies have shown that for long-term retention of knowledge, taking regular breaks really helps.

Everyone’s different, so develop a study routine that works for you. If you study better in the morning, start early before taking a break at lunchtime. Or if you’re more productive at nighttime, take a larger break earlier on so you’re ready to settle down come evening.

Try not to feel guilty about being out enjoying the sunshine instead of hunched over your textbooks. Remember Vitamin D is important for a healthy brain!

8. Snack on ‘brain food’

Keep away from junk food! You may feel like you deserve a treat, or that you don’t have time to cook, but what you eat can really have an impact on energy levels and focus. Keep your body and brain well-fuelled by choosing nutritious foods that have been proven to aid concentration and memory, such as fish, nuts, seeds, yogurt and blueberries. The same applies on exam day – eat a good meal before the test, based on foods that will provide a slow release of energy throughout. Sugar may seem appealing, but it won’t help when your energy levels crash an hour or so later.

9. Plan your exam day

Make sure you get everything ready well in advance of the exam – don’t leave it to the day before to suddenly realize you don’t know the way, or what you’re supposed to bring. Check all the rules and requirements, and plan your route and journey time. If possible, do a test run of the trip; if not, write down clear directions.

Work out how long it will take to get there – then add on some extra time. You really don’t want to arrive having had to run halfway or feeling frazzled from losing your way. You could also make plans to travel to the exam with friends or classmates, as long as you know they’re likely to be punctual!

10. Drink plenty of water

As a final tip, remember that being well hydrated is essential for your brain to work at its best. Make sure you keep drinking plenty of water throughout your revision, and also on the exam day.

Good luck!


For more Career Guidance, be sure to visit IT Varsity too!

Degree versus Certificate versus Skills – What’s the Deal?

 This is a special guest post written by our CEO , Award winning developer, Bilal Kathrada

Fact: there is a global skills shortage in the IT sector. There seems to be a never-ending demand for skilled IT personnel globally, and this trend is expected to continue well into the future. As a result of the severe skills shortage, IT companies are forced to poach IT professionals from other companies.


The big question is, how do we satisfy this global need for skills? Clearly, the current educational institutes are failing to meet this demand. So what is the solution? In our opinion, we should be producing more IT professionals, more quickly than we are currently doing. What is really needed is a short turn-around time to get people out there so that they can hit the ground running. We need to take students in, provide them with relevant, cutting edge skills, and get them out there in the shortest time possible.


That is why in our opinion a three year full time degree is simply too much of a time investment for a student who is serious about IT. The reason for this is very clear: technology is changing so fast, that by the third year of studying, what a student learned in the first year will be outdated. In any case, the best place to learn is the workplace.


I’m not dismissing the value of higher education; I’m simply saying it comes at the expense of experience” Steve Jobs, Founder of Apple


Added to that, the total cost of a degree in South Africa is around R100 000, depending on the institute at which you study. In fact, the cost will be considerably higher if you consider things like books, transport, living expenses etc.


As such IT varsity recommends the following to anyone who wants to get into IT:

certification1. Do a 1 year National Certificate at a recognized institute that provides practical training, quality education and, more importantly, cutting-edge skills.

2. At the end of the year, get a job in the field.

3. While working, choose a specialization field.

4. After the first or second year of working, apply for an IT degree – it may prove very valuable if you want to climb the corporate ladder, or if you want to go to work overseas. Study via distance learning while you work. In most cases, the employer will be glad to offer financial and other types of assistance.

The advantages of this approach are as follows:

  1. You get into the industry far quicker. After all, the reason for studying is to secure a job. Once you’ve secured your job, you can start growing professionally and financially.
  2. When you study towards your degree while working, you are gaining experience and going up in the salary scale. By the time you’ve completed your degree, you will have at least five years of experience! By then you will be a valuable asset to your company and at a senior level. Salary scales at this stage are at least R250k gross per annum. (Check out Career Junction and PNet websites for confirmation of this).Now compare the above with a student who goes straight into a degree programme at DUT, UKZN, etc. Realistically it takes about 4 years to complete a degree. At the end of the four years, you will struggle to get a job because, let’s face it, all these institutes are dishing out stuffy, outdated theory; the courses are far from practical. If you do get a job, you will be at the bottom of the salary scale, earning around R5000 typically, and then start climbing the salary scale.
  3. More often than not, by studying while you work, your employer will pay for your studies, which is a huge benefit to you and your parents or the people who are paying for your studies. Remember that in many cases, employers receive benefits from the government for up-skilling employees, so they are very glad to assist.


So clearly, the question is not whether a degree is better or a certificate; both have their merits. Instead, the question is about the immediate need of the individual and of the global tech industry. The individual needs to be out there as quickly and as cost-effectively as possible, while the industry needs as many skilled people as it can get, and as quickly as it can get them. In order to fulfill both these needs, a 1 year National Certificate is clearly the winner.

Are you a software developer or studying to become one? check this #InfographicOfTheDay on why the job rocks!

Glassdoor how to hire a programmer

Woeful lack of women in the African ICT sector

“The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights” Gloria Steinem

International Women’s Day


International Women’s Day was celebrated on 8 March and is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future. The day is celebrated as a result of the hard work of Suffragettes. The great women campaigned for women’s right to vote. International Women’s Day honours the work of the Suffragettes and celebrates the success of women worldwide. The first International Women’s Day event was run in 1911.


IWD is now an official holiday in Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, China (for women only), Cuba, Georgia, Guinea-Bissau, Eritrea, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Madagascar (for women only), Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nepal (for women only), Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Zambia.

Many international organisations and companies now support International Womens Day by running their own initiatives and supporting outside programmes.

Social Entrepreneur and LinkedIn Influencer Leila Janah wrote a piece to commemorate International Women’s Day. Her powerful sentiments express the ability for women to be leaders in the field of technology.

“When you think of women in technology, who comes to mind? Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg? HP’s Meg Whitman? Google’s Susan Wojcicki?

Yes, me too. But I also think of Martha Kerubo, an orphan from rural Kenya, who recently graduated from high school, acquired some basic technical skills, and is carving out a life for herself through online BPO work. Like those mentioned above, Martha is a bright, determined woman with great inner strength who sees and seizes the potential of technology. While Martha isn’t on Forbes’s list of the world’s most powerful, she is a very powerful woman in her own right.”

Google also celebrated the day with another of their famous doodles to show solidarity with the women of the world on the day.


Google Doodle for International Women’s Day


IT Varsity endorses empowerment of women and promotes equality among students on campus. Many students in our new app dev class are female. The campus is also busy with preparing to launch the Geek Girl Campaign which will encourage more females to get involved in app development and technology.


ITNews Africa, a leading tech website, recently interviewed Dr Rebecca Parsons, CTO at ThoughtWorks, to gather insight into the issue of the low number of women in the field of ICT in Africa. She commented that the African ICT context still has a high barrier to entry for talented females. “There is still a woeful lack of women in technology globally and Africa is unfortunately not any better.   Development roles, leadership pipelines and leadership development all need attention.  We need more role models for women in technology.”

While the industry for telecommunications, technology, smart devices, cloud computing and the economy of apps seems to be growing in Africa at a phenomenal rate due to high user adoption, it seems that the industry still lags behind with opportunities for women in the ICT sector.  Skills transfer is not happening quick enough to address the need.

IT Varsity is committed to addressing the need for more women in the field of science and technology. Our student intake for females is an encouraging 40% of all classes combined. With this trend, IT Varsity aims to inspire and empower females of all walks of life and learning to become an integral part of the ICT sector.

New students at IT Varsity Orientation Day 03 March 2014

Don’t discount Durban when it comes to South Africa’s digital landscape

by: Kim Stavropoulos

Durban is renowned for its beaches, surfers and sharks. Durban is also an up-and-coming digital and media force that could soon give the big players a run for their money.

Home to some serious contenders in the web and app development space in South Africa, including SA Web Design as well as a range of new and existing digital marketing advertising agencies such as Paton Tupper, and big businesses such as Unilever and Mr Price, Durban is becoming an interesting hub for digital marketing and media creatives.

Cath Jenkin, a freelance “Durban-proud” copywriter, media consultant and columnist, attests to Durban’s digital and media clout. “Just a short look around my address book will tell you that Durban’s digital media work actually serves a far bigger audience than just the town itself. Events like Durban Digital Day bring the East Coast’s digital media world to life, and spotlight it in a way that is so necessary. If Durban were such a “sleepy hollow” as is often alleged (usually by people who’ve never even visited), then many of us who do work in online realms would probably be selling surfboards at the beach.”


The digital and media powerhouses

Barry Tuck, the “guy who does stuff” (according to his LinkedIn profile) at Paton Tupper Digital, is very proud of what Durban has to offer in the digital landscape. He is quick to give his competitors and other leading digital, media and marketing agencies their due. His full-service digital agency prides itself on delivering world-class solutions to some of South Africa’s leading brands, including web platforms, app development and building social media communities.

Tuck conceptualised and launched the Stork I Love Baking SA social campaign at Gorilla Creative Media, a Durban agency he co-founded five years ago. It’s now run by Dorin Bambus, who focuses on conceptualisation, content creation and management as well as brand strategy. This Stork margarine campaign was extremely successful and reached a record high of 350 893 Facebook followers. Gorilla was nominated for a Bookmarks award for this great initiative in the “Brand/Company Identity Mobile sites” category and subsequently won a Bronze bookmark.

Durban is also home to Unilever, one of the largest FMCG companies in South Africa, who are involved in some exciting online initiatives with brands including Stork, Knorr, Shield and Dove.
The first Mr Price store was opened in an old Bakers Biscuit warehouse in Durban in 1985. Its founders, Laurie Chiappini and Stewart Cohen, had a vision of creating factory shops that stocked fashionable clothing at reasonable prices. It is now one of the fastest-growing retailers in South Africa and is engaged in the business of retail distribution through 937 stores in Southern Africa and 24 franchised stores in Africa. Their hugely successful strategy involves engaging customers via online communication channels and a well-executed ecommerce presence.

Quirk, one of South Africa’s leading digital marketing agencies, recently “set up shop” in Durban, spearheaded by Group Strategy Director Nic Ray, who has spent the last few years as MD at Quirk London. Nic is excited about the enormous growth opportunities in Durban, and “plans to offer digital marketing solutions and consultancy to Durban-based brands that seek to engage with connected audiences.”

As Cath Jenkin says, “The ‘D’ in Durban stands for ‘Digital’ and we’re all proving it, every day


Thanks to Ventureburn for this great article.

South Africa is not ready for e-Books

High bandwidth costs, low access to e-readers and choking e-commerce legislation will keep South Africa’s adoption of e-book technology “limited” for the next five years.


ebook image

High bandwidth costs, low access to e-readers and choking e-commerce legislation will keep South Africa’s adoption of e-book technology “limited” for the next five years, while the hard-copy book market continues to struggle.

This is according to PwC’s entertainment and media outlook 2013 – 2017, which notes a decline in both physical entertainment and educational book sales – as well as a slow uptage of digital content in the country.

In the report, PwC said that, while a number of local e-commerce services have become established in South Africa that sell both physical and e-books online, the cost of e-readers and bandwidth constraints make the downloading of books difficult in some areas.

The firm also highlighted proposed legistlation by National Treasury, which would require non-South African suppliers of e-commerce services (for example, electronic books, music and programmes) to register as VAT vendors in the country for output tax on its supplies.

“This has resulted in e-book and e-reader penetration being lower in South Africa compared with many other markets in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA),” PwC said.

“For publishers, there are also concerns about the lack of clear policy around digital copyrights. Currently South African legislation is not in line with the World Intellectual Property Organisation’s Copyright Treaty (WCT), which protects investments in digital media,” PwC said.

>>See this related video on iPads being used in the classroom in South Africa

A nation of illiteracy

According to PwC, the South African book market “continues to face a number of limitations in the wake of the high illiteracy rate and low incomes, coupled with the challenge of publishing books in multiple languages which effectively excludes large segments of the population from reading”.

“Illiteracy continues to be relatively high in South Africa,” said Vicki Myburgh, Entertainment & Media Industries Leader for PwC Southern Africa.

“[However], the government is taking steps to address this as part of its Industrial Policy Action Plan, with the goal of eliminating illiteracy by the end of the decade.”

PwC noted that books in South Africa are subject to Value-Added Tax (VAT) at 14%, which is higher than in most countries and has contributed to the high retail prices that tend to make books out of the reach of the majority of consumers.

“As a result, consumers are more likely to read newspapers and magazines,” PwC said.

According to data collected in the report, South Africa’s consumer book market is smaller than the educational book market, though both markets are expected to pick up by 2017.

The consumer and educational book market as a whole has fallen from R4.1 billion in 2008 to R3.6 billion in 2012 – however, this is expected to increase slightly to R3.7 billion by 2017.

“With a rise in the sale of consumer books, assisted by a general increase in living standards, the decline will not continue,” PwC said.

The consumer book market is forecast to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 2.5% to reach R1.6 billion in 2017, up from R1.4 billion in 2012.

However, the educational book market is expected to fall by a negative CAGR of 1.1% to R2.1 billion in 2017 – down from R2.8 billion in 2008.


Thanks to Business Tech for this great article.