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

Toyin likes to believe Veterinary medicine chose her. It wasn’t always her first or third choice but she grew to love it. However, when she realized that it was not an easy career to pursue in Nigeria, especially with bills to pay, she opted for a new skill. Here is Toyin Adeoye’s pivot journal.

How it started

I always wanted to study human medicine. However, I fell three marks short of the cut-off score post-jamb exams. It was devastating. Medicine was my first, second and third choice in my applications. Then one day I received a random message that said I had been admitted to study veterinary medicine at the University of Ibadan. At first, I thought it was a prank. When I confirmed it wasn’t, I was still muddled because Veterinary medicine was nowhere near my interest at the time. Sure I had 2 dogs growing up, but that was where my animal interests ended. My brother advised me to take the admission offer because it was hard to get admission. People kept saying I could always apply for a transfer to MBBS after my 100 level. I was sold. 

Towards the end of my 100 level, I tried to move to MBBS. I even joined a cacaos of other students who wanted to switch their courses too. We would go from office to office with several documents and a lot of hope. However, the part they didn’t tell us about switching was that it is not possible to switch from one professional course to another professional course. I went from wanting to change courses to trying to make the best of my situation. I decided to stick with Veterinary medicine.

Every year from the 200 hundred level, we were attached to a veterinary establishment- at the 200 level I was attached to a farm, 300 level it was a veterinary lab, 400 level was an abattoir where I worked as a public health officer and 500 level I was a student doctor at a Vet clinic. That’s where I developed an interest in pets. During ASUU strikes, I worked at vet clinics. Upon graduation, I was posted to serve at the Mokola Veterinary Clinic Ibadan, a government-owned clinic owned by. Till now, I still have a client or two that reach out to me when they need vet services.

Epiphany

Toward the end of my service year, I began thinking of what I was going to do next. As a veterinary doctor with a DVM (Veterinary medical degree), the expectation is that you would further your medical education and get a master’s. You could even apply directly for a Ph.D. and get a scholarship alongside. I graduated with three distinctions, and many people just expected me to grab that opportunity. Many of my colleagues and ex-coursemates were already applying for their masters abroad. I couldn’t afford to do that. The process was as tedious as it was expensive. So I thought to apply for a job first. But when I inquired, I was told I would earn 70-80k as a vet. It was disheartening. After 7+ years of studying and garnering experience. I also earned better than most corp members, as I was receiving stipends from the state and federal government. The bar had been raised. I remember a colleague telling me I was moving from the house of government to the House of God, and it dawned on me that I had to think of my next paycheck. That’s when I thought about picking up a new skill. In my free time, I started researching non-code skills. I remembered I had organized a 21-writing challenge for the veterinary faculty, which had gone well. So I leaned into my writing skill.

Toyin Adeoye

Transition

I searched for free courses online. I checked some LinkedIn pages and saw that a lot of UX writers started with the fundamentals of UX writing, so I started with that and moved on to other advanced courses on Coursera, Udemy, and even YouTube. I read books like Microcopy The Complete Guide. I looked for communities on Twitter and joined the UX writer’s Africa telegram group.

Now I understood that people saw the relevance of having someone craft their designs using words. It is user experience. So you’re trying to make sure that at each stage of the pathway of the user journey, there’s microcopy to help the user. But it was still a new skill, so it wasn’t easy wrapping my head around it. I looked up popular apps and studied their copies. I had to train my mind to see every product as a UX writer and not just a user. I would come across products and try to figure out the tone of the brand through their copies. I looked up other UX writers on Twitter and checked out what they were doing. I would put it out there that I was a UX writer and was looking to collaborate with UX designers. That’s how I got some of my first gigs.

I started with a lot of content writing. An ex-classmate who was building an e-commerce brand onboarded me to develop content for his startup. I did that for about two months. Then I got my first UX writing gig. It was from a friend who was a product designer. He was working with an international client, and the job needed a UX writer. I was paid 200,000 for that gig. That’s when I knew I was sitting on a gold mine. I was shocked. I had been doing some mobile veterinary work on the side and it didn’t give me that kind of money in two weeks. Soon after, my friend connected me to my second writing gig. It took 5 days and I was paid the same amount. However, my third job scammed me. I never got paid for it.

How it’s going 

I do a lot of contract jobs. A typical day starts with going through the brief from my client. Then I proceed to ask the client what the product is about. I always want to hear from them first because I view them as my first users. Then I proceed to check out what the product already is and how it operates. This is a skill I learned being a vet. You are taught to check the records before anything else whenever you go to a new clinic. If I have new pathways on how they can achieve your goals, you start research and conversation mining. You can outsource UX researchers. That can take a whole day. I am sure to take short breaks. The actual writing can take up to three days. The first draft might not be perfect but I always make sure to get it all down. I do not erase anything. The last stages of the entire process involve a lot of tweaking, checking the user flow, moving things around, sleeping on it, and editing.

Career hack

Immerse yourself in learning. In the beginning, it would look like jargon too but when you surround yourself with industry-related conversations and people, it would be easier to figure it out. Also, tell yourself the truth. Identify what you know, what you don’t know, and what you need to know. And always harness free resources. Make sure you have a source of income when you are learning so you can fully immerse yourself in learning and not be concerned with your next meal.

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