It depends on how much zeal and motivation the developer has, consistency is key when you stay consistent you see how much you progress over time.
— Egwuenu Gift
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 "She Inspires" series on Hashnode.
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Today, we will be interviewing Egwuenu Gift 👩💻 .
Egwuenu Gift is a Full Stack Developer currently working at Andela. She is passionate about making the web accessible to everyone and also an advocate for building open-source software and enjoys solving complex problems using web technologies. She leads the Vue Vixens chapter in Nigeria, the JAMstack community in Lagos and also co-organizes Concatenate Conference.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. How and when did you venture into tech?
Gift: I'm a Software Engineer and currently work at Andela. I was a pretty early adopter even though I didn't know I was eventually going to go into tech full-time. I started off at age 11 when I used to play around with computers and went on to study computer science in the university.
Can you briefly tell us about your job title?
Gift: I work as a software engineer. My day-to-day activities involves me working on our product features, collaborating with my peers and stakeholders in fast-paced distributed teams, through a love of constructive feedback, dedication, and universal respect.
What difficulties have you faced on your way in tech? Have you ever felt like you were not treated as equal?
Gift: Oh well I feel like everyone faces difficulties at one point or another in their careers. Mine was in my early days, I found it really hard to communicate with my team and speak up when I realize I was the only girl in the room and my thoughts were not valid. I know better now.
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?
Gift: I think this is because people don't think women have a place in tech and tech is supposed to be a "man's world". I've recently seen companies and organizations adopt inclusion and diversity which I think is great but more work needs to be done to educate others about underrepresented folks in tech.
You are passionate about building communities from organizing conferences to meetups to workshops, why's this and what's your motivation?
Gift: I love doing it. Every time I organize an event I think of how many people I'm bringing together with similar interests to learn and network and the value and impact it'll have in their lives. I am a testimony of communities I literally built my career with the support of communities and thinking about it that way keeps me motivated.
You currently work as Software Engineer at Andela, how long did it take you to arrive here and what significant difficulties did you face along the way?
Gift: I started working quite early after my NYSC (compulsory one year service for every citizen in Nigeria) I got a job as a Software Developer Intern and my career has progressed from there. I won't say I faced any significant difficult but the most common would be getting a job without prior experience. In my case, I was already learning a lot before I started applying.
We see that you work predominately in Web Development, Community Building and Technical Writing. How did you decide to focus on these paths?
Gift: I didn't choose these paths. Oh well, I choose web development after taking a course in school I fell in love and committed to do it full time as a career. But community building and technical writing happened because I was passionate about teaching what I know.
What advice do you have for a newbie or intermediate who dreams to work as a Software Engineer?
Gift: I always say this "start by doing the work". Put in the work and you'll see results.
How long have you been in tech and what word will describe your experience so far?
Gift: Almost 3 years now, In one word I'll say fascinating I'm still amazed I get to do this full-time. I love several things about tech one of it is you never stop learning and flexibility which other career paths don't offer.
You own a YouTube Channel, where you share your knowledge around tech tutorials, lifestyle, and vlogs. What inspired this and how has managing it been?
Gift: I always love it when I share knowledge through my technical writing and get positive feedback. I was randomly thinking about expanding my reach and trying video tutorials and that led me to start. Creating content is a lot of work but I still love doing it.
What advice do you have for a newbie or intermediate who dreams to start a YouTube channel?
Gift: Well, First find your niche decide what you want to do and actually start creating content. Don't wait to get the perfect camera or sound equipment just start with what you have. Let your priority be the content you are sharing.
You are a "writing genius" Gift, what's your super power?
Gift: I don't know about being a Genius but one thing that keeps me excited is when I learn something new and I think it's worth sharing.
What advice do you have for beginners or intermediates who look forward to technical writing?
Gift: I think sharing knowledge gained is valuable even though your motivation for writing is to your future self. If you have something to share go on and write that article, don't think because other people have already written about it then yours isn't valid. No, think of it in a different way you are bringing your own perspective which others lack.
We see that you speak and teach at software conferences, how did you get into public speaking and how has it affected your career?
Gift: My first ever talk was at a conference, I didn't think I would go into public speaking didn't even think about it at all. I got the opportunity and I took it that has changed a lot of things about me and impacted my career.
What advice would you give to aspiring programmers who look forward to speaking at meetups and/ or conferences?
Gift: Anyone can do this, You just need to practice and you'll improve over time. Start by applying to meetups and conferences.
You are an open source contributor and creator. How and when did you venture into Open Source and how has it affected your career?
Gift: I worked as an Open Source Contributor for a couple of months before working at Andela. I find it really amazing contributing to projects I make use of. My first ever contribution was a typo fix on one of the projects I was admiring.
What advice do you have for developers who will like to venture into Open Source and how should they get started?
Gift: I think OSS can help you improve your skills as a developer, creating projects and open sourcing it is one way to go another is contributing to open source projects you use.
What do you think needs to be done to encourage beginner developers to learn programming languages and continue learning?
Gift: It depends on how much zeal and motivation the developer has, consistency is key when you stay consistent you see how much you progress over time.
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?
Gift: To be very honest, I still struggle with this but I've found myself looking back at how much I've accomplished and keeping an accomplishment journal helps.
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?
Gift: I see rejections differently now I see it as an opportunity to try again and it's not the end of the road there's a lot of opportunities waiting out there and I'm rest assured one is mine.
What advice would you give to aspiring programmers who look forward to working for companies like Andela or Microsoft?
Gift: Work for it and find it a company that aligns with your value.
Which of your projects are you most proud of? Can you briefly introduce us to it and why you built it?
Gift: I collaborated with the folks at DevCenter to create a curriculum for newbies venturing into the world of web development. The curriculum consists of vetted resources from beginner level to Advanced level with suggested projects to practice.
What is the best advice someone has given you that has helped you in your career?
Gift: Don't box yourself! You can do anything you set your mind to.
What are your favorite programming tools?
Gift: VS Code and codepen.io
What does your development environment look like? Could you please share a photo? :)
I work mostly from home and this is what my workspace looks like :)
Finally, what would be your message to women trying to get into technology?
Gift: Find a friendly and inclusive community and join also following successful women in tech keeps you motivated.
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 💙💙