Whenever I feel like an imposter, I remind myself about the things I have achieved so far no matter how small it might have been. I tell myself that if I could do it before, I can as well do it again and even better this time
— Edidiong Asikpo
I interview leading women developers every week and showcase their history, opinions, and advice on the tech. In case you missed our previous interviews, check out the series on Hashnode.
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Today, we will be interviewing Edidiong Asikpo 👩💻 .
Edidiong is a young and passionate professional with multi-faceted skills and experience spanning across Software Engineering, Developer Relations, community building, technical writing, and Open Source contributions.
She is a strong advocate of sensitizing people, especially women about the importance of starting a career in Technology. This passion has led her to play a major part in building communities such as Developer Circle Uyo from Facebook, She Code Africa, and Women Will.
She is an eloquent writer, speaker, and communicator with a keen interest in making open Source contributions and inspiring the next generation.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. How and when did you venture into tech?
Edidiong: I am a Software Engineer working in the Developer Relations team at Interswitch Group. I initially wanted to study Medicine & Surgery at the University because my Dad wanted me to be a medical doctor. At that time, every parent wanted their children to either be a Medical Doctor, Lawyer or a Petroleum Engineer. Along the line, I remembered how I loved taking Computer classes in Secondary School, so I opted to study Computer Science at Renaissance University in Enugu State, Nigeria. My university education was quite bland and typical, in the sense that the method of teaching was mostly theoretical, there was hardly any practical teaching involved. But, the turning point for me came in my 3rd year at the University when I secured a six-month out-of-school Industrial Training placement at a place called Start Innovation Hub at Uyo, Nigeria in 2017. At Start Innovation Hub, I was opportune to learn how to develop mobile applications, majoring in Android Development. I was thrilled by the fact that I was able to learn how to build some features I saw on most mobile applications I used. It was so exciting that I could do this and the excitement made me love Tech.
Can you briefly tell us about your job title?
Edidiong: I work as a Software Engineer in the Developer Relations team at Interswitch. To me, Developer relations is discovering and delivering the most effective methods to bolster or create a vibrant ecosystem of 3rd party developers and at the same time advocating for the external developers you encounter, representing them by giving their feedback to your technical teams to influence their product roadmap and strategy and inputting defect reports and feature requests.
What difficulties have you faced on your way in tech? Have you ever felt like you were not treated as equal?
Edidiong: Just like anyone else, I have faced a lot of difficulties in tech. Just to name a few, the thought of not being good enough, delivering tasks that have been assigned to me, rejection and Imposter syndrome. Personally, I can’t remember being in a situation where I felt I was not treated as equal. However, I have seen it happen to other Women in Tech.
If there’s a bias women face, why do you think it is still there, in the 21st century? What are some things people and organizations could do to change this?
Edidiong: I believe women who fought for equality centuries ago probably thought that women won't have to face certain biases in the 21st century, but that is not the case sadly. Even though we are already moving in the right direction, I think most men don't even realise when they are not supportive to Women in Tech at work, online and even physically and I feel organizations should be intentional about sensitizing men about what it means to be an ally. This way, Men won't unknowingly say things that are hurtful or diminishing to their female counterparts.
You are passionate about building communities from organizing conferences to meetups to workshops, why's this and what's your motivation?
Edidiong: Honestly, communities encourage, motivate, provide mentorship and assist developers, designers, technical writers, and startups across the world through meetups, hackathons, online training, webinars etc. When I ventured into tech in 2017, being part of a developer community gave me an opportunity to learn, grow, network and become better as a developer. I haven't just seen the impact of communities in my life but in the lives of so many people so it is very important. That is why I am motivated to pay it forward by building developer communities which would, in turn, help other people join the tech world and scale through faster.
You currently work as Developer Relations Associate at Interswitch Group, how long did it take you to arrive here and what significant difficulties did you face along the way?
Edidiong: I started proactively getting involved in Tech in 2017 while I was in school so it technically took me 3 years to get here. I joined Interswitch as a core member during my NYSC (A compulsory one year service for every citizen in Nigeria) on the 15th of April, 2019 and when I finished my NYSC in October of 2019, I applied for a full-time role in Interswitch and got an offer to join the Developer Relations team. Significant difficulties would be getting rejected by a couple of companies when I applied for an internship role.
You recently worked on the popular VideoLAN (VLC Media Player) via the 2019 Google Seasons Docs program. Can you tell us more about this program, how you got started and the amazing work you did?
Edidiong: The Season of Docs provides a framework for technical writers and open source projects to work together towards the common goal of improving an open source project's documentation. I got accepted as a technical writer and was opportune to work with the VideoLAN organization. If I remember correctly, I almost threw my laptop on the floor out of excitement when I got the mail about my acceptance. It was absolutely a surreal moment for me because I have literally been using the VLC media player since I was in secondary school and the fact that I worked with this same organization for over 3 months was mind blowing. During the program, I worked on modernizing VLC’s user documentation. You can find VLC’s new user documentation here.
We see that you work predominately in Developer Advocacy, Community Building and Software Engineering. How did you decide to focus on these paths?
Edidiong: Like I mentioned previously, my story would never be complete without the developer community. I realized I enjoyed talking to developers, learning new things and encouraging others to join tech and developer advocacy helps me to do all that.
What advice do you have for a newbie or intermediate who dreams to work in Developer Relations?
Edidiong: Developer Relations is an amazing field in Tech and it includes a lot of communicating, speaking, coding and writing. My advice to anyone who wants to work in Developer Relations at some point in life is to be active in the tech ecosystem by joining or volunteering to lead a developer community, write articles, apply to speak at Tech events and most importantly be open to meeting and communicating with people in the developer community.
What advice do you have for a newbie or intermediate who dreams to be in the Google Season of Docs program?
Edidiong: Start making open source contributions right today. - Not tomorrow, today. To expatiate, you need to show proof of being a technical writer to qualify as a candidate so I will advise anyone who is interested to start writing articles if they are not doing that already. Follow Google’s Open Source page on Twitter to get notified when the program opens for 2020. Over 50 organizations participated in the season of Docs program by Google so chances are they will also participate in the challenge this year so go to the season of docs website, join one of these open source organizations, get to understand the goals of the organization and make contributions to their documentation. I am happy to help out if you want to contribute to VideoLAN’s documentation.
How long have you been in tech and what word will describe your experience so far?
Edidiong: Technically, I have been in tech for over 3 years. I would use the word exceptional to describe it ):
What advice do you have for beginners or intermediates who look forward to technical writing?
Edidiong: Few years ago, I experienced difficulties in expressing myself in words and that affected me seriously so I decided to be intentional about learning how to write, then I stumbled upon a quote that said “You only learn how to write by writing” and it dawned on me that the only way I could learn how to write was to actually start writing something. My advice to anyone who wants to delve into Technical writing is to START. Even if they think they don’t know enough about the subject matter they want to write about then that’s not a problem because Google is our friend so all they need to do is read more about it and write that article because someone somewhere is waiting to read that article. And as time goes on, they will be astonished by how their writing skills have improved.
We see that you speak and teach at software events, how did you get into public speaking and how has it affected your career?
Edidiong: I decided to start speaking because I knew it was important especially because I wanted to delve into Developer Advocacy. Also, I loved telling people about the importance of tech. Speaking has positively affected my career in tech because it exposed me to a lot of opportunities and people.
What advice would you give to aspiring programmers who look forward to speaking at meetups and/ or conferences?
Edidiong: You only learn how to speak by speaking so go ahead and submit your proposal for that talk, meetup or conference.
What do you think needs to be done to encourage beginner developers to learn programming languages and continue learning?
Edidiong: I believe learning is intentional and no matter how you try to encourage and help beginners to learn, it won’t work except there are actually willing and ready to put in the work.
Imposter syndrome is one problem developers face especially newbies, what is your experience with imposter syndrome, how did you manage yours and what advice do you have for anyone facing this currently?
Edidiong: Imposter syndrome is one of the worst things that could happen to you and the funny part is that it doesn’t go forever after you overcome it, it always finds a way to show its ugly head eventually. Whenever I feel like an imposter, I remind myself about the things I have achieved so far no matter how small it might have been. I tell myself that if I could do it before, I can as well do it again and even better this time.
Rejection emails is another thing that motivates imposter syndrome and depression amongst developers especially intermediates. How did you manage this effectively during your "job-hunting" days?
Edidiong: Rejection emails are the worst. Sometimes it breaks you completely, especially when you were really hopeful about getting accepted by a particular company. As soon as I brought myself to understand that anyone can get rejected and doesn't mean they are not smart or that they won't ever get such an opportunity again. It means we stand a stronger chance next time.
What advice would you give to aspiring programmers who look forward to working for companies like Interswitch or Microsoft?
Edidiong: Start learning how to code if you’ve not already done so and when you do, stay consistent and always remember that you too can work at any company in the world.
Which of your projects are you most proud of? Can you briefly introduce us to it and why you built it?
Edidiong: It has to be the new documentation platform for Interswitch. Over the years a lot of people have complained about our API documentation here and this new platform aims to solve that problem. I can't wait for us to launch the documentation platform.
What is the best advice someone has given you that has helped you in your career?
Edidiong: You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don't try.
What are your favorite programming tools?
Edidiong: VS code and Bitbucket
What does your development environment look like? Could you please share a photo? :)
Well, It’s pretty boring, right? I guess I am not really into cool workspaces like most developers
Finally, what would be your message to women trying to get into technology?
Edidiong: Just start and stay consistent when you eventually start. They should also remember that they can only learn by doing so they should start doing what you think will get you where you want to be.
Thanks for taking out time to read this interview. 👋
This series is all about talking to the awesome women in tech, understanding the current health of the tech industry and inspiring other women to become better. If you want to share your story, please reach out to me on Hashnode.
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See you next time and keep trailblazing 💪💙