My Pivot Journal is a Ventures Africa weekly series documenting people’s career transitions from one industry to another, especially to tech.

Adeola Esther Aderounmu has always been passionate about teaching. But when she found it difficult to practice teaching in a small town, she quickly turned her lemons into lemonade and found a new passion in tech. Here is Adeola’s pivot journal.

How it started

I studied English education at the university of Ado Ekiti. After I graduated, I worked as an editor for an online paper for a year. I went through the mandatory National Youth Service (NYSC) in Ekiti State. After I served, I moved back to Lagos, and I got a job as a teacher. I became one of the youngest teachers at Holy child college, Southwest Ikoyi. It was a wonderful experience because I love to teach. It was easy for me. I was not the type of person who just wanted to teach it because that is the only profession available. It was my passion, so it was easy for me. I had people who invested in me growing up, and I was willing to do the same, to pour myself into my students, to build with this young mind and impact on them.

Epiphany

My light bulb moment was marriage. After I got married, my husband’s job transferred him from Lagos to Ekiti state. We knew the distance was not healthy for a newly married couple, so we had to make a decision. We asked ourselves, “whose job is movable right now?” Since I worked in the private sector, and he worked for the federal government, I chose to move to Ekiti. When I got to Ekiti state, I thought, “it can’t be that bad” “how hard can it be to get a good placement here?” Then I realized it was that hard. There is a vast difference between the salary teachers earn in Lagos compared to what teachers earn in Ekiti. It took me another year to find a job. Aside from that, I got pregnant a few months after moving to Ekiti. That added to the delay. No one wanted to hire a pregnant woman. So, I took that time to reflect on what I wanted to do. I realized teaching was not the way forward in Ekiti. There will always be that gap between teaching in Lagos state and teaching in Ekiti state. The kind of resources I had in Lagos that made teaching easy were not available here. I needed a remote job. So, I decided to pursue a tech career. My younger brother, who is into tech, convinced me to try coding.

Adeola Aderounmu

Transition

When I started to learn to code, I learned HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. However, I struggled to get it right. I was on my way to becoming a front-end developer, but it was not something I enjoyed. I was surfing the web one day when I saw something about no-code opportunities in tech. I found that interesting. So, I began to dig. I made a list and took my time researching each career on the portfolios and the knowledge needed to pursue the career. I found UI (User experience) interesting, so I opted for it. Then IngressiveForGood came into my life. A friend connected me with Ingressive4Good, a non-profit organization that allows you to learn tech courses. I applied for their 1000 Women in Data program but did not get in. I was disappointed. Luckily, they had a design course and I got in. My instructor made the journey amazing. She made me understand that I could get what I want if I put in the work. Her guidance truly impacted my UI/UX career. It’s been amazing ever since, building my portfolio I mean. When I finished my courses, I started collaborating with other professionals. I learned the importance of teamwork. Almost immediately after I finished the course, I had people call me to work on projects together. This allowed me fully practice what I learned in theory.

How it’s going

I am currently a freelance product designer. And I have had the opportunity to work on projects in various fields. I have also begun exploring other opportunities. I recently found a new love in virtual reality and have begun navigating the waters of the metaverse. I am working on a personal project that should launch by the first quarter of the year. I am building something that connects virtual reality and education, with secondary schools as the main focus. I have a team working with me on that. On a typical day, I meet up with a client, find out what they need, discover the problems they have, go through their UX process, data and analysis, come up with solutions and then I start designing.

Career hack

Be open to all forms of education. Ignorance has never helped anyone. You can’t just stay with your old knowledge; you have to keep learning. The tech world is fast-paced. So, ensure that you are not catching your breath in order to stay on top of your game at all times. Stay productive but avoid burnout.

Written by Areola Boluwatife

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