Hi Lilian, 👋 Great to speak with you and have you share your tech journey with us! Could you give us a brief introduction to yourself?
I am a software engineer with Accenture working within the Infinity Works team. I am also a YouTuber and a mentor. My background was in agriculture and food security where I had my Bachelor’s degree and Masters. I made a career switch into tech in December of 2020 and the experience has been very rewarding.
I am a self-taught developer, I love learning new concepts and working on new ideas - for me, the journey into tech made me more open-minded, receptive to change and conscious about the power of networking. I enjoy mentoring others who are looking to make a career switch into tech from non-technical backgrounds, encouraging thought-provoking conversations among peers to be the change we seek in our communities.
As a YouTuber, my channel is dedicated to simplifying the journey into tech, drawing from my personal experience and that of others because I believe there is a place for everyone in the world of tech, together we can all make a greater impact in our world.
A career switch is a bold but brave move - what was it that inspired you to change careers?
At the start of the pandemic, I had just graduated with my Masters degree and accepted a job offer working as an energy advisor, but I felt under-utilised. I had much more to offer, I had great ideas and I was ready for a more challenging opportunity for a chance to grow and develop. At the top of my list of motivations were
- growth potential
- opportunity to solve day to day problems with code
- job satisfaction and benefits
I printed off my motivations on an A4 sheet and pasted it close to my bedside where I could see it every morning as a reminder on why I started the journey and why I needed to finish. I was working 9 am – 5 pm weekdays and having to code 3-4 hours into the night, it was a very difficult period for me, but my motivation outweighed the discomfort. Looking back now, I am so glad it paid off.
Do you have any advice for anyone thinking of making a career switch? Perhaps some resources you leaned on while making this transition?
My advice to anyone thinking of making a career switch into tech is DO IT!
- Make a list of your WHYs (motivation) and keep that close to where you can see it every day because some days will be tough, and you need to remind yourself why you are doing this in the first place.
- Find suitable ways to learn, whether you choose to become self-taught or join a Bootcamp, make sure you are happy and you are enjoying the process.
- Join tech communities such as Black Girls in Tech, Coding Black Females, and Code First Girls. Actively ask questions, network and make good use of the resources that are available to you for free.
Some of the sources that helped me during my journey are:
- The full-stack development course on Udemy offered by the London App Brewery – instructor Dr. Angela Yu.
- 100 Days of Python coding course on Udemy offered by the London App Brewery – instructor Dr. Angela Yu.
What technologies do you work with, and why do you like/choose to work with them in comparison to others?
Many new developers have said that they experience Imposter Syndrome - have you ever experienced this, and do you have any tips on how to overcome it?
I recently shared a video on my YouTube channel about my experience with imposter syndrome, especially in the first few weeks of my role. I felt the need to work harder to make up for my lack of a computer science degree, I felt like I was way over my head like I didn’t belong here and what in the world was I thinking! I am a constant work in progress, and I have found ways to overcome the imposter feelings and keep my feelings under check:
- I try to acknowledge the feelings once I feel they are there: identifying the imposter feelings and making yourself aware of them can help, I try to speak to my mentor to get some outside context on the situation going on in my head.
- Build connections: I avoid doing everything myself, that’s why I have mutual support because I believe my network can offer guidance, support, and validate my strengths in times when I feel unaccomplished due to imposter syndrome.
- Challenge your doubts with facts: this is one of my favourite ways to tackle imposter feelings. For example, during my first few weeks at my job I adopted this approach by telling myself that having passed 3 long interview stages and being offered the job was a fact that I deserved to be here, and I am qualified to be on the project - this definitely helped.
How do you find the motivation or dedication to work on personal projects outside of your full stack developer role?
When I started out on my journey, I looked for answers to the many questions I had but could not find the answers online. I made some mistakes, had a few successes and I now know what I could have done differently. My YouTube channel is a place where I share helpful tips, insights, advice and resource recommendations to those starting their journey and I enjoy the process of creating each content just because it could help someone out there.
It's recently been International Women’s Day! Do you have any women in your life and career that have been of inspiration to you?
Yes, I have been blessed to come across Patience Ndlovu, my very first mentor in tech. She went above and beyond to help me achieve my goals, she inspires me, and I am thankful that our paths crossed.
I am also grateful to my career mentor Sandy Forrester; she has been amazing and I can’t thank her enough for the supportive role she is currently playing in my career.
Finally, I am happy to have connected with Ugo Ojike on LinkedIn, I look at her and I believe I can achieve much more.
You can follow Lilian's journey on Linkedin and Twitter - and why not check out her YouTube channel! You can get inspired and read more Developer Stories exclusively on Haystack.