Inspiring Figures is a monthly column where I share with you people who are catalysts in inspiring and motivating me. They are people that you should really know about.
You can find the whole list of my inspiring figures over on the shiny new website, InspiringFigures.co. Each feature first took place live on YouTube Live, this is a write-up of our conversation. Thank you once again to everyone that joined in live!
September 2020 features Temi Olukoko
Temi Olukoko is a Graduate Software Developer on a Technology Graduate Scheme at BT. Outside of her day-to-day, she is a passionate content creator! Creating content relating to tech and early careers across platforms like Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. Her goal is to encourage more black and woman of colour to consider joining the tech industry. Temi advocates for making tech as simple as possible, breaking down I also concepts so that beginners find it easy to digest.
We’ve been connected for a couple of months since Temi first started her graduate scheme, and it has been an absolute pleasure to see her grow from strength to strength as she gains her own confidence. It’s lovely to see her pay her knowledge forward to others now too! I’ve especially enjoyed her beginners-related content and how she has been keen to make tech as accessible as possible.
I hope that you get a lot out of our conversation!
Listen to our live conversation
💻 Temi’s journey getting into technology
Temi’s journey into tech was not really clear cut. She has an undergraduate degree in Geology in Physics. “I kind of just picked that because I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do. I think from the beginning of school, I was never really passionate about one thing. So I kind of picked a mix of things and just went from there.” It was in her second year of her degree that she was exposed to coding. But because it wasn’t taught very well, Temi explained that she actually didn’t enjoy coding at that point and thought that it was too difficult and that she wasn’t very good at it.
Once she completed her undergraduate degree, she decided to take on a Masters in Geophysics, still unsure what subject to specialise in. During her masters, she took a module around data visualisation where she had another hands-on experience with coding. Overall, she found it quite interesting and it ended up being one of her favourite modules that year! Although she didn’t enjoy the rest of her degree, she stuck around until the end anyway.
Along the way, she came across different women in tech bloggers and YouTubers that further inspired her to pursue a career in technology.
⚡️ Securing a place on the graduate scheme
Temi began her graduate scheme at BT in September 2019. Temi explained one of the selling points of a graduate scheme to her was the fact that you can try a bit of everything, “The reason that I was really excited to join is because I knew I was interested in tech, but I didn’t know what specifically interested me and I knew that this scheme in particular had, it kind of gives you the opportunity to try different kinds of sectors and have a feel for what’s out there.”
She started her first 8 month rotation in the Network Design team where she learned about mobile networks such as 3G, 4G and 5G. Her current rotation is in Software Development which she has been enjoying quite a bit.
View this post on Instagram
🎥 NEW VIDEO: Get a Job in the Tech Industry – No CS degree & No Experience! *Link in bio* In this video I share some of my tips on how to get a job in the tech industry as someone at the beginning of their career journey or as a recent university graduate without a computer science degree or any experience! These tips are coming from my own personal experience as I applied to technical roles, but many of these tips can be applied to many other industries! Goodluck with your job hunt 🕵🏾♀️ Don’t forget to like, comment & subscribe ❤️
In just a year, Temi has already picked up some golden nuggets of wisdom from her graduate scheme. Her biggest learning and advice to future graduates is to speak up and take initiative. “I think when I started, I obviously started the scheme straight after uni. And before then the only time I’d really worked was I did an internship, but summer before my master’s, so that was kind of when I was exposed to proper working life. So I think I really wish I would have taken more initiative and spoke up more in the beginning. So whenever I felt like I needed help or didn’t understand something, I think I was really prone to just not saying anything and waiting for my manager or people in my team to just ask, you know, how’s everything going with you?”
Psst…you can read about my experience on the BT graduate scheme here.
💡 Advice for University graduates wanting to get into a graduate scheme
“The main thing and most important thing is not to be discouraged.”
With competitive graduate schemes, it’s quite easy to be discouraged when you don’t get into the one that you want. University is difficult anyway, applying for grad schemes on top of everything else can be quite unmotivating. Temi advises that the more that you apply for things, the more you go through video interviews, do psychometric tests and assessment centres, the more accustomed you are are to it. Eventually the easier it becomes!
So don’t be discouraged. Keep applying!
🕸 #100DaysofCode challenge
The #100DaysofCode challenge is a challenge that is quite popular in the tech community. The rules? You code every single day for 100 days for at least an hour. For extra accountability, you can document your journey on social media.
At the height of lockdown, Temi decided that she wanted to commit to really focusing on learning for the next 100 days. When she explains her motivation, “I’ve been quite interested in the tech industry for the last maybe a year to two years. So I kind of knew that within that I did want to go into something eventually, that was quite technical, and more specifically, I wanted to improve my coding skills. And I think because I knew that for my second rotation, I wanted to go into the software development team. I wanted to prepare for it!”
“I was just like, it’s time for me to finally sit down and do it and stop saying, you know, I want to do this, I want to do that do that. I think that’s something I was really, really fond of doing in the past, like never actually taking, taking the initiative to start and just saying, ‘Oh, this is what I want to do.’“
And just like that folks, she committed! And it was inspiring ASF.
🎉 The good and the bad behind #100DaysofCode
When you write code as your job, it can be quite difficult to commit to a few more hours in the day to study more coding and technical concepts. That was the most challenging part – actually doing it after a long day!
“I think it was really hard in the beginning and at the end, more so in the beginning because it’s just picking up that new routine and trying to kind of integrate that into your everyday life. And obviously, if you’ve never coded before, it can be quite frustrating in the beginning. And so I just a lot of times I really did feel like giving up and then also near the end because by that point, I was just sick and tired (of coding).” 😂
The most rewarding parts
📈 Tips on committing to learning alongside a 9-5 job
Temi explains that if she was still working in the office, the outcome of 100 Days of Code would probably be a lot different because of things like commuting. She does advise, “I think that even if you get to day-50, day-25 whatever it is, I think as long as you go in with the aim of just wanting to pick up a new skill, that that I think that’s the most important thing and even if you can only do like 30 minutes a day, then that’s fine as well as 30 minutes every other day. I think in the beginning, I was very set on I have to do this every single day for at least like a few hours. But I was getting exhausted.”
Temi’s key advice is to take it slow and stay focused on what you can do based on your own circumstances.
She is currently undertaking another 100 days challenge! Today, it’s #100DaysofProjects. She is taking a completely different approach. Instead of doing it every day, she does it throughout the week whenever she feels like it. This challenge is a great way for her to put her learnings into real-life scenarios and practice. What a better way to do that than with projects!
🎨 Getting into the content-creator world
Temi shared incredible beginner-friendly content on social media. Her inspiration to create came from other women in the industry! The first person that she found was GirlKnowsTech, she enjoyed reading her blog about her career journey. Temi also mentioned me! (I’m still very honoured 🥺) It’s great that she has been able to identify those that inspired her and use that as the basis of what she does now… inspiring you all!
“I think it’s just all the women I follow that are in tech or whatever kind of STEM thing might be, is where I kind of got my inspiration from so I just think Because I was inspired, partly inspired to get into tech because of that, I’d like to do the same thing.“
When creating her content, Temi ensures that everything she puts out there is beneficial to others. “The main thing is just thinking about what I’d want to consume if I was if I knew nothing about tech or about coding or whatever the case might be, and just trying to produce that content.“
Once she gets an idea, she uses Canva to start bringing her ideas to life. Temi explains that the styles of her posts are always bright and colourful because tech can be quite dull and bland which can be off-putting for a lot of folks. She uses a similar approach for her YouTube videos. Temi reflected on how she used to sit in front of a camera and spend hours speaking to a camera without any preparation. She now plans through what she’s going to say and has a detailed Notion where all her ideas are stored.
✨ What does the rest of 2020 look like?
I love asking this question because it can seem like doom and gloom at the moment, so a little bit of positivity is so important at this time. 😊 Temi shared that for the rest of 2020 she wants to focus on family and loved ones. As well as focusing on her own personal development outside of technical stuff, including building up her confidence to continue speaking at events.