Being deliberate is the way to transition into tech successfully

Iyin Fisher
3 min read
Remote Religion is a series which shines a spotlight into the life of a remote tech worker in Africa. We explore the promise and perils of remote work and how to navigate career transition.
In this edition of Remote Religion, we spoke with Onyinye Uche, an Observability Engineer at Paystack. She talks about her journey into tech, her self-directed learning, and her advice for others interested in transitioning into the space.

Hi Onyinye! Thanks for speaking with me. Please tell me about yourself.

Thanks, Iyin! I hold a Bachelor of Science degree in Microbiology from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.  I started my journey into tech as a writer with Techpoint Africa, before I made the decision to switch fully to a technical role. I currently work as an observability engineer at Paystack, and I have over 4 years of experience in the DevOps space.

How did you go from studying Microbiology at the university to working in tech?

It’s a story that started awhile back. In secondary school, I built the habit of learning a new skill during the long holidays. It was on one such holiday that I ended up in a computer school. I opted for the strangest course in the catalogue as I already had a fair idea of the other options. It was a basic course in web development - HTML and CSS. I totally loved it.

I wasn’t thinking about a tech career at the time, and I pretty much forgot about my learnings once I got into university. But that was when the passion was ignited and the experience made it easier to jump on the tech train after my degree in microbiology.

So how did you transition into the tech space?

After university, I was sure that I didn’t want to pursue a career in Microbiology. Coincidentally, I had to teach JSS2 students BASIC programming during my NYSC program. This reignited my interest in coding.

Afterwards, I discovered the Andela fellowship which was gaining popularity around the same time. I started doing a lot of self-learning with Andela's curriculum as well as courses on Codecademy and Freecodecamp.

My plan was to focus on getting into Andela until I saw this exciting vacancy for technical writers at Techpoint. I joined the company, and after a year, I was confident I had learned enough to work in software.

Is there a specific reason why you started your career in technical writing?

At that point, I didn’t know much about the tech space and its career prospects. I just really enjoyed learning to code.

But I also enjoyed writing, and I figured that working with Techpoint would be a great avenue to validate my interest in tech and learn more about the space.

When I decided I was ready to work in software development, I figured the easiest route to achieve this would be to attend a coding boot camp that promised to secure internships for participants upon completion. After my 6 months Bootcamp with NESA by Makers, I began an internship with Venture Garden Group.

The only twist was that I ended up working in DevOps instead of Backend Engineering as planned.

What’s your life like now as a DevOps engineer at Paystack?

I enjoy it because I’m working to support the growth of African businesses. I also enjoy working remotely and the fact that I’m given the freedom to do so without any distrust.

Each day brings exciting challenges. I could start my day with a clear plan and do something entirely different. This is expected because we build tools and platforms that support other engineering teams and end-users. As such, my work is greatly influenced by others.

What advice would you give to people looking to transition into tech?

I’d advise them to be very deliberate and have a realistic plan.

Some questions you should ask yourself are: Which aspect of tech do you want to focus on? What is a reasonable timeframe to dedicate to learning to avoid getting stuck in a learning loop? How do you intend to nail your first job? etc. Answering these questions early enough can give you some sense of direction.

To find these answers, you’ll need to interact with people in the space. Join tech communities, and be ready to learn. Finally, seek opportunities to help demonstrate your new skills.

That’s really great advice. What are your plans for the future?

I intend to stay focused on the things that really matter to me, embrace personal, and career growth - stay learning, and move up the career ladder. I’ve also enjoyed learning about the crypto/blockchain space from the Stack Shift Web3 fellowship. I plan to continue diving in, experimenting, and learning new skills in the field.

I like to keep an open mind, so I don’t have very rigid plans. Life so far has come with a lot of interesting and unplanned diversions, and I am definitely looking forward to the next twist.

Thanks for an insightful conversation, Onyinye! How can people follow you?

I appreciate you for having me. I’m not an avid social media user, but you can follow my Linkedin. Thanks!

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