My Pivot Journal is a Ventures Africa weekly series documenting people’s career transitions from one industry to another, especially to tech.
When the tech wave took over social media in 2020, Toyin Aminu wanted to be a part of it. Although she had no background in STEM, she believed that her work experience could earn her a spot in this new buzzing sector. After months of applying to tech companies, she finally got a foot in the door and now works as a Business/People Operations Associate with a Lagos-based venture studio. Here is Toyin Aminu’s pivot journal.
How it started
I grew up loving anything communication-related, like broadcasting. That drove me to study mass communication at the Nigerian School of Journalism, Lagos. I graduated with a Higher National Diploma (HND) in the field, in 2020 during the pandemic.
My HND was a part-time programme. It spanned from 2017 to 2020 and allowed me to take on a 9 to 5 job. So, I worked with Stroom Multiservices Ltd as an Admin/Operations officer. We were into sales of oil and gas products and medical consumables. I was in charge of admin duties and had to do a bit of accounting and payroll management. But when the pandemic struck, we hardly worked because of the lockdowns. That was the period I learned about tech on Twitter.
My journey into tech started out of curiosity in 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Then, on Twitter, everyone buzzed over tech. It was like a frenzy. It felt like a new goldmine, and I wanted to be a part of it.
People were not just talking about tech but were also migrating to tech. The way the narrative went, it seemed to offer a stream of endless possibilities, accommodating as many skills as possible. And because I wanted to be a part of that, it became my prayer point.
I wanted a place that would be easy for me to evolve, a place where I could grow. I knew I would need computer skills, but I did not know much about hardware, software, or cybersecurity. I only learned basic computer skills in elementary school. Still, that did not stop me from trying my luck with tech. I just started to apply to tech companies.
I got my first (my current) tech job in 2021. My transition was not easy because I did not have a tech background. Unlike other techies, I did not have to take any courses to fit in. There was a place for me in business and operations, and I already had the skill. But that, too, was not enough. The tech industry has a way of stretching you beyond your limits. Coming from the oil and gas sector, I had to learn on the job. And I had to learn a lot.
I remember when I was first asked to buy a domain, I was like, ‘what do you mean by domain?’ But now, I know I can buy one from Namecheap, GoDaddy, Google Host or any other domain service company. I like the fact that I am learning new things.
How it’s going
I now work as a Business/People Operations Associate with Business Lab Africa, a Lagos-based Venture Studio. We are a startup accelerator that helps to set up tech startups from the ideation stage to when they begin to make profits. We invest in, consult for, and build companies that solve problems in Africa.
My job involves recruitment, drafting job descriptions, managing staff, ensuring everything is running well in all the departments and accounting. Sometimes it is overwhelming. Other times it is fun. But like one of my friends would say, ‘learn all you have to now because you will need the experience when you become a business owner tomorrow.’
The hardest part of my job is the learning process. When you are not used to something, learning it can be difficult. For instance, the accounting aspect of my job involves auditing. Imagine auditing the books for money that is not missing.
This year, I tried taking a data analysis course on Udemy but stopped halfway because it was tough. I still have plans to go back to it, hopefully, next year.
Be willing to learn new things. Take courses online on Coursera, Alison, and Udemy. You can also attend tech schools. There is one in Yaba, Gomycode, where you can learn to code and take a course in cybersecurity.
Ensure you are diligent with learning.
Do not give up easily.