A year ago, Sandra Ubochi latched on to the love-season frenzy, hoping to sell curated “Valentine packages” via social media. That venture failed as she made no sales. But since then, she’s curated a new path through a multi-pronged Decentralised Finance (DeFi) career. Here is Sandra Ubochi’s pivot journal.

How it started

I grew up in a family which taught us financial independence early. My mom, who had a restaurant, asked us to find ways to make money through her business when I was ten. So, we sold water to customers who came to eat at her shop. And whatever money we made was completely ours. She wouldn’t take a dime out of it. That made me stand out early in life because I started thinking differently from my peers. I could afford most of my childhood cravings, from sweets to clothing.

This lifestyle was probably enough background to make me lean into entrepreneurship while choosing a career path. But that’s not what I did. I wanted to be a doctor. However, I stepped back when I realised all four of my siblings wanted to become doctors or engineers. I didn’t want to do what everyone was doing. But I also didn’t know many other options. So, I thought I’d be a lawyer. In the end, I studied political science at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.

I knew I wouldn’t build my career around political science before long. My passions didn’t align with the field at all.

After graduating, I started a comfy little job as a sales representative. The salary was good, they provided accommodation and the job made me travel a lot. I spent three years with them, working in their Cross River, Anambra and Imo State branches.

Epiphany

I didn’t plan on making any drastic changes in my career while working as a sales rep. But I had to quit because of NYSC. And nothing was the same after that. I planned to take a year off from the job and return immediately after service.

However, my service year was not a smooth ride. I tried my hands on many things to make extra money: affiliate marketing, mini-importation, you name it. Yet I was broke. In February 2023, I thought I’d make good money from selling ‘Valentine packages’. I put so much time and energy into it and convinced my family and friends to help me promote it. But I made zero sales. Not a single person made an order. It was one of the most embarrassing moments of my life. I knew I had to find something more rewarding.

I started learning about crypto in 2020 but didn’t know much about it. Because I had a stable job, I wasn’t very aggressive with it. But now that I was struggling, I had to give it everything it took. Trading was no longer enough. I needed to start working in web3.

Sandra Ubochi
Sandra Ubochi

Transition

I started by learning DeFi, and it was haphazard at the beginning. I paid several people to teach me but didn’t gain much value. Most of what they taught me were things I knew from scraping the internet. Subjects like how to use PanCakeSwap just weren’t worth my pennies.

I then moved to learning blockchain development. It was hard. I had no prior coding knowledge and was throwing myself into topics like solidity,¬†writing smart contracts and deploying tokens. So, I got myself a mentor who had been in web3 for long enough. He taught me development, but more importantly, guided me on how to grow faster. That was where I learnt to build my online presence by sharing whatever I knew. He also showed me that there were several other pathways I wasn’t exploring, such as writing and business development.

Everything he said was true. Within a few months, I had built a notable social media following, and my network had become very strong.

Another advantage was that I joined a training institute where I met many people who understood blockchain more than I did. We had mini-groups where I could learn from my peers. Then, there was a hackathon that opened my eyes. My group came fourth out of many others. But I didn’t build anything. All I did was organise, like a project manager. That was when I understood that I could do so much more outside of coding.

Because I had become visible on Twitter, people brought gigs to me. Some of them even thought I was great at coding. I didn’t turn them away, though. I would take the jobs, give them to my friends who are already good at building stuff, and manage the projects. That was how I made my first $3000 from web3.

How it’s going

Today, I wear several hats in web3. I work as a DevRel, a content writer, a marketer and a social media manager. So much has changed since that first $3000. It was like I unlocked a new value pool for myself. Even my trading, which used to yield between $10-$20 on average, has become a huge income source. In January alone, I made more money than I did in the whole of last year.

I don’t yet have all the answers about where my career is headed because there is still so much to learn. But I know I’m getting better at what I do with time, and that alone excites me. If I could make this much progress in one year, how much more five?

Career hack

Get a mentor who genuinely wants to see you grow. You would be surprised at how much clarity and speed you’d get from this seemingly simple thing.

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