Transitioning from customer experience to software

Chris Quintero
4 min
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 Ani Chinyere, a software engineer based in Lagos, Nigeria who currently works at Yellow Card, a crypto-focused fintech. We talk about work life balance and her journey into software from customer experience.

Hey Ani! I see you studied international relations in school. How did you get into software engineering?

Lol. I got into software out of sheer curiosity. I used to work in customer experience at a bank.

I worked with a web application that sent marketing campaigns and became curious about how I could sit at my desk and send sms or emails anywhere in the world. I started researching web applications and asked my colleagues in the tech department to explain things.

That was the beginning of the rabbit hole.

I’ve always liked creating things. It gives me a sense of alignment and fulfillment. I also like to dismantle things to understand how they work. I realised that software engineering was the career path that I wanted to take long term.

To prepare for the transition, I watched videos on YouTube and also read articles and books – any resources I could afford.

After some months, I spoke to the head of engineering at the bank where I worked about joining his team as a Frontend Engineer. He was very impressed with my progress and agreed.

That's amazing! So you started in frontend engineering at Sterling Bank?

Yes I did.

What was it like working at a bank?

Working at Sterling was a great learning experience but it was also very exhausting. It was fast paced and we churned out products every other day.

As time went by, my manager became impressed and kept increasing my tasks. At one point, I remember working on five different applications at the same time. That was a lot of work.

How did you decide to transition to Union Bank?

Hehehe, I was poached! A former colleague at Sterling moved to Union Bank. He told me about an opening on his team and asked if I was interested. At that point, I felt I was due for a new work environment, so I applied and got the job. This was during the pandemic so I was already working remotely. I worked there for about 8 months before eventually transitioning to Yellow Card, a crypto focused fintech.

Cool! How did you get interested in crypto and Web 3?

Peer Pressure!!! 😂

People wouldn't stop talking about it on Twitter.

My interest in blockchain actually started back in 2019 but I didn't explore it much at the time. Some blockchain engineers joined my team. I was curious but didn't actively start learning or transitioning until last year.

What's it been like working at Yellow Card?

It’s been a refreshing change of pace. I love it here.

Do you have any advice for people who are also looking to transition?

  1. Take little steps at a time.
  2. Celebrate your little wins.
  3. It can get overwhelming and you may often feel stuck. Be patient with yourself. Just remind yourself of the things that you were able to learn and understand. This is evidence that you can learn more, so keep going.
  4. Get a mentor. It helps to be guided. You can learn faster.
  5. Ask for help, online, offline, anywhere. You will find someone who is willing to help.
  6. If you can, pay for resources, in-depth training, courses (online or offline)
  7. Practice! Build! A lot! The evidence of knowledge is what you have built. That is why interviewers ask for your portfolio.

That’s great advice! What do you do for fun?

I play the guitar and also teach people sometimes.

I’m also an amateur painter. Feel free to reach out to me if you want me to paint the ugliest version of you or anything.

What's next for you?

Hmmm, to be honest I’m not sure. I know I have the capacity to walk many paths. Right now I’m staying put and replanting myself before diving into something new.

Over the past few years, I’ve repeatedly set goals for my career and then achieved them. I started 2022 without any goal in mind so I decided to prioritize two things for the next few weeks:

  1. Rest! I consider this an important part of work. I felt like I had been doing a lot and needed to cut back and maintain a healthy balance. This way I can enjoy work better and also pursue other interests like my ugly paintings.
  2. Create sustainable systems that will help me achieve big goals. I want my goal for 2022 to be very audacious.

Love it! I feel like more people should prioritize those things.  Thanks for taking the time Ani! How can people follow you?

Thanks Chris. My twitter is @AniGray.

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