Welcome friends 👋
After many DMs via Twitter & Instagram, I have decided to repost my tech journey so far on my medium account. This was originally posted on Elpha. This post covers what sparked me into tech, my job roles/companies, lesson learned, takeaways and the #TechTea.
Elpha is where women in tech to talk candidly online.
Early 2015, I remembered listening to this lecturer speak about her career in technology. She explained why she loved teaching, how technology will evolve in the future and the importance of why to be in the space now.
I was sold.
The truth was I wasn’t there for me, I was there supporting my younger brother about his upcoming university choice at an open university day. I was currently working in retail enjoying my early 20s after recovering my stressful undergrad degree.
I remember all my friends doing amazing things after graduating. But honestly, after the drama with an incident that happened in my first year which dragged out till my final days. I was traumatised and I refuse mentally to start my political career which I was always preparing to.
I decided to book girl trips aboard and attend festivals to escape reality and adulthood.
But after attending the open university day, I started researching tech courses. I remember googling ‘How to land a software engineer job’ and most search results required me to have an Information System Degree (which I didn’t have because I studied International Relations with Economics) or required me to have a tech-related Masters top-up.
At my retail job, I was top 5 in the country in sales, I was on route to another promotion and pay increase. But I wasn’t happy. I really wanted to have a tech job. So I drop my hours from 40 to 16 and moved cities (from London to my parents' house), paid my full tuition in one traction and I was all set & ready to pursue my tech job dream.
I did an MSc in Information System Management at De Montfort Univesity.
Modules: Object-Oriented Programming, Database Systems and Design, Computer Systems and Networks, Systems Analysis and Design, Research Methods Professionalism and Ethics, Management of Information Systems, E-Commerce Systems, Human Factors in Systems Design and Thesis.
After completing my MSc, I was ready for the tech companies to all come for me. But I quickly realised I really didn’t know where to start. All my random job applications (mainly for £60K) were not getting accepted because I didn’t have any ‘industry experience in tech’. It was getting a bit overwhelming.
I decided to accept an offer from an academy which offered me further training in a specific role and consultant contract for 2 years.
I did really well during the academy training and really enjoyed the academy experience.
My first role was at LGSS Digital ( mainly based at Cambridge County Council) as a developer.
I was part of a small team and was involved in various digital end-to-end projects. I had the opportunity to work in different stages of the service life-cycle and sometimes I had switch hats to a BA or UX (depending what the project needed). I also lead a project in Northamptonshire County Council, speaking to stakeholders, product owners, and the users. My main responsibility was to scope a new service but also solve current pain points.
I completed 3 projects overall. I would recommend working with the team, they are amazing.
When working for a small team, your more likely to play other roles throughout your position.
After a year, I moved to the Ministry of Justice (MOJ — a UK Government Body) and worked as a software developer/ engineer in test ( SDET).
I really liked working at MOJ, I was part of the massive team who was working on the end-to-end digital justice transformation. The way the tech team was set-up was very similar to the Spotify Agile Methodology.
I mainly worked on one service, my responsibility was to assess & add test automation where it was needed. I helped design a test strategy for the new feature being built and helped out with content changes. This was important as we were pushing continuous deployment of code to the public. The correct test coverage is required to ensure the best quality of service was used by the public. I left MOJ after my team released the new feature to the public just in time before my contract officially ended.
It was the right time to leave and move on. During my time working in tech, I was growing CGV ( a London-based Angel Syndicate firm) with my other co-founders. Working with founders on their start-ups and advising them about their product & IT infrastructure. I believe at this point I found my real purpose.
At Community Growth Ventures (CGV), we invest time and resources to help passionate founders create sustainable companies that deliver value to customers and the communities they operate in.
Currently, I don’t have a specific job role/ title — I am an investor/product manager/community builder but I still work in the London Tech ecosystem.
Sneek peak, I’m starting a new venture. Will post an update soon ✨ ✨ ✨
For information about what I achieved (so far ) please review Abi Mohamed #1–2018 Goals Revealed & Twitter Highlights. I also release a quarterly review with my latest start-up/tech journey called Abi’s Tweets Highlight.
Lessons Learnt & Takeaways
- You don’t need a Tech degree to get a tech job.
Doing my MSc was the best decision & investment in my life. It’s expensive but it was worth it.
Note: Most big companies might be able to sponsor your masters. For example, Google has programs which I found out after I graduated. They frequently post via their job board.
Additionally, you can apply to the tech role without having a tech degree as long as you can prove your tech abilities. I would recommend building your portfolio via Github with small projects if you wanted to become a software engineer.
2. Tech Bootcamps / Academies can be a good starting point but there are other routes!
Joining a bootcamp or academy can help you secure a job if you haven't got industry experience. But always do your research as it could come with a heavy price plan or a fixed contract.
Find people who have previously attended the program and ask them about their experience and the #TechTea.
Also, you can apply for internships and entry-level position to start your career.
3. Being a software engineer is not the only job in tech.
Before job hunting, I would recommend you to do research about what might suit you.
There are lots of job opportunities in tech, being a developer is not your only option. Try to attend talks & networking events. Try to reach out to people on LinkedIn or Twitter who you think is doing the role you want to do. And ask them about their day-to-day and responsibilities, and then make your decision.
4. Join a community and be part of the tech ecosystem.
Your network is your net worth ✨ ✨ ✨
I believe this is the most important part, I remember being really lonely and lost and honestly wouldn’t survive without my community. There are loads of communities in tech to join with regular events. And always give back.
My 1st community was London Campus (now known as Google for Startups).
Google for Startups is a startup program launched by Google in 2011, consisting of over 50 co-working spaces and accelerators in 125 countries, offering hands-on lessons for aspiring entrepreneurs.
Check out my previous post: List of groups who cater or specifically includes African or Caribbean in Tech
5. You can always pivot and change your mind about your career.
Looking at my journey so far, I’m grateful for all the opportunities and wouldn’t change my journey.
You can always transit to other job roles within tech. I believe if a company doesn’t provide career progression then you might need to change once you feel like you hit your peak at the company. Always put yourself first, that’s the only way you will be able to grow and develop.
“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson.