Don't compare yourself to others or what you see. The only person you should compete with is the person you were yesterday. Make sure you're growing even if it's slow. It's something. If you can see growth, you're doing good. Don't put yourself under pressure :)
— Nenne Adaora Nwodo
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 Nenne Adaora Nwodo 👩💻 .
Adora is a Software Engineer based in Lagos, Nigeria who loves Mobile experiences and Artificial Intelligence and works at the Microsoft Cognition team in Nigeria. She creates technical content for developers, co-organize developer events and owns a Shoe Business in Nigeria.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. How and when did you venture into tech?
Adora: My preferred name is Adora. I'm currently a Software Engineer at Microsoft Mixed Reality, I have my brand (AdoraHack) that I use to share tech content (videos & articles) & I own a Made-In-Nigeria shoe business. I ventured into tech as a child because I was so fascinated by computers at age 6. A few months later I discovered coding and started doing it. My first programming language at the time was Visual Basic & I've been coding as a hobby ever since. I started doing freelance coding gigs in like 2013 and got my first real coding job in 2016.
Can you briefly tell us about your job title?
Adora: My team at Microsoft is called Cognition, and I'm a Software Engineer there. What I do every day is to build Mixed Reality services that help give our customers amazing experiences because we basically create a "new" world by merging the physical & digital world together.
What difficulties have you faced on your way in tech? Have you ever felt like you were not treated as equal?
Adora: Hmm. I'd say getting my first real job was difficult because I was still in school at the time and no one wanted to hire me. I had to prove myself. But apart from that, it's been a smooth ride. No, I have never felt that I wasn't treated as equal because I always command respect but I know a bunch of women who have and it's not cool :(
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?
Adora: It's a cultural thing and it's been around for a long time. I've had times when people see my long hair/nails/eyelashes and when I tell them I code, I get the "You don't look like a programmer" response, which in my opinion isn't cool. And that's' why I try to tell women that you don't have to be or look a certain way to write code. I think more organizations should embrace inclusive work environments for women (and every other person) to do their best work and I also think it's important to empower women with confidence and other things they need to compete in these corporate jobs.
You are passionate about sharing knowledge and building communities, why's this and what's your motivation?
Adora: I just want to bless people the way God has blessed me. I don't have dollars to give everyone but I can teach, share & encourage so why not? It gives me joy when people tell me that something I did or said motivated them to do something and I'd like to help motivate as many people as I can while I'm still alive.
You currently work as a Software Engineer at the Microsoft Cognition team, how long did it take you to arrive here and what significant difficulties did you face along the way?
Adora: I've always wanted to work at "Windows" (that's what I used to call Microsoft as a little girl). But I wasn't actively trying yet because of school & NYSC. But when I got reached out to in February 2019, I was still in my NYSC year but I just thought it could be an opportunity I might not get again so I took it and did the interviews. I was able to choose my start date myself so I made sure NYSC was finally out of the way before I started.
Difficulties: Getting ready for my interviews while I still had a full-time job & NYSC to think about was a struggle. For context, NYSC is a year-long government service thing Nigerian university graduates need to do to be eligible to work in corporate organizations.
We see that you work predominately in Mobile Development and Artificial Intelligence, how did you decide to focus on this path?
Adora: I enjoy these experiences. Mobile experiences, and all these cool AI things. So I thought since I enjoy being a consumer of these sorts of products, I could as well just build them too.
What advice do you have for a newbie or intermediate who dreams to work as a Software Engineer?
Adora: Command respect, be teachable and strive to learn a lot, share your growth and surround yourself with positive energy.
How long have you been in tech and what word will describe your experience so far?
Adora: 3 years professionally. A few more years freelancing but I choose not to add that. My experience has been amazing.
In October 2018, you created AdoraHack, where you post software development articles and tech contents for developers, what inspired this?
Adora: I just wanted to give
What advice do you have for a newbie or intermediate who dreams to start a Blog?
Adora: Let procrastination be your enemy. Start the blog. It might not be perfect, but you would get better. Also, be open to feedback. You might not see the impact yet, just relax. These things take time.
You write a lot Nenne, what's your super power?
Adora: Lol. I used to be a writer in secondary school. I used to write poems & short stories for my school and some of them got into a UK publication thing for young writers. So writing comes naturally to me. It's coding now which is a different domain from storytelling or poetry. But I do it anyway because I remember why I started doing it in the first place.
What advice do you have for beginners or intermediates who look forward to technical writing?
Adora: There are some articles and videos online that teach people how to get started. Find those and get started. That's the important thing. You'd get better in time.
We see that you speak and teach at software conferences, how did you get into public speaking and how has it affected your career?
Adora: I believe in humble beginnings. I spoke at my first meetup last year and it was a very small crowd and then I got more engagements and the crowd got bigger. I think it has had a positive effect on my career
What advice would you give to aspiring programmers who look forward to speaking at meetups and/ or conferences?
Adora: Start small and reach out to meetups/conferences that are newbie-friendly.
What do you think needs to be done to encourage beginner developers to learn programming languages and continue learning?
Adora: Not much in my opinion. We have amazing communities to join and help foster your learning and there are a lot of resources out there. Find one and start your coding journey.
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?
Adora: Don't compare yourself to others or what you see. The only person you should compete with is the person you were yesterday. Make sure you're growing even if it's slow. It's something. If you can see growth, you're doing good. Don't put yourself under pressure :)
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?
Adora: We move oh. Lol. The truth is, all you need is one "YES". I like failure or rejection because I see it as motivation to be stronger and to push harder.
What advice would you give to aspiring programmers who look forward to working for companies like Google or Facebook?
Adora: Embrace your uniqueness and learn to do your best work. Build networks that matter and don't be afraid to shoot your shot once in a while.
Which of your projects are you most proud of? Can you briefly introduce us to it and why you built it?
Adora: Personal: There was a time I built an eCommerce site for my business from scratch with Laravel. I'm proud of it because I wore all the hats in that project and it turned out great. I built it because I felt I should use my skills for myself and not just my day job. Plus I got tired of the Instagram "DM to order".
What is the best advice someone has given you that has helped you in your career?
Adora: Do what you love
What are your favorite programming tools?
Adora: Spotify, VS Code, Android Studio and the command-line
What does your development environment look like? Could you please share a photo? :)
My (still work in progress) home office has all the things I love in it and I plan to add more. I work with my Surface laptop & I'm always listening to music so my surface headphones have to be there, I keep a water bottle because I love to stay hydrated, I play music from my Google home sometimes if I don't feel like wearing a headset, I also have a small box on the tall black table where I keep notes from my friends or mentors to reassure me that I'm doing great whenever imposter syndrome attempts to step in, and yeah, I work from the tall table when I'm tired of sitting. + I shoot and edit videos here sometimes is why you can see the camera ;)
Finally, what would be your message to women trying to get into technology?
Adora: Learn to be great at what you do. Everyone loves great talent.
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.
Did you find Adora's story useful and inspiring? Write down your thoughts in the comments section below and don't forget to share. You can also follow Nenne Adaora Nwodo on Twitter.
See you next time and keep trailblazing 💙💙