I was inspired by recent conversation to reach out to a few friends who are young professionals navigating (and killing it!) in the tech world – tech bros, if you will – and ask them about their experiences so far. Do the jobs live up to their hype? What peculiar changes do they face that most people don’t even realise?
Let’s find out, whall we?
When most people think “tech company” they imagine some sort of silicon valley-like environment where everyone is free to express themselves as much as they want with their style, dressing, manner of speaking, and overall outlook. They’re not completely wrong for that. While some tech firms are very lenient with the style or outlook of staff, others are quite the opposite. I was lucky enough to find myself working with a tech company that’s somewhere in the middle with their policy on staff dress code. Cooperate casual, semi-casual, or traditional. In other words, don’t wear anything you wouldn’t wear to church I guess lol. There’s also a policy about calling colleagues by their first names and not “ma’am” or “sir” except jokingly lol. This actually helped me relate with the people around me a whole lot easier than I normally would have. That’s the vibe tech companies try to promote to encourage teamwork among colleagues.
One common misconception is that people working in the tech space have it relatively easier than most jobs. In some ways this is true. While some jobs require you to be physically fit enough to carry yourself and other stuff lol, more technical roles in tech spaces only require very little physical capabilities as about 90% of your job requires you to type stuff. What a lot of people don’t get is that what it lacks in physical demands it makes up for with mental stress. Many technical jobs require a whole lot of brainstorming before, while, and after typing your code or solution. And of course, there are moments emotions set in as issues and bugs caused by none other than yourself keep you from making progress on a task. Please if you know any software engineers or programmers in general, check up on them regularly LOL.
Communication is key in the tech space. The entire point of programming (one of the most widely practiced fields in computer science) is to communicate the solution you’ve thought of in your head to a computer that can achieve this task. When I first started at where I work, there were a lot of acronyms and terms flying up and down that I had never heard in my entire life. I felt very uninformed. I had to inform myself really quickly. One very common acronym used was MSISDN (Mobile Station International Subscriber Directory Number). Chai. This simply means your phone number in the +234 format (for Nigerian numbers). That’s an example of how simple the meanings to some of the terms you hear techies throw around are. They only throw this gibberish around because it’s the most effective and efficient way to communicate what they are trying to say to one another. Since you can’t beat them, inform yourself and join them.
First off, most people think it’s just chilling but it 100% is not, especially if you’re talking about people who actually code for a living or those who do some system administrative work – anything that has to do with software and building/tweaking some things. If you are in that light, it is one of the hardest things you can ever come across. “The world is constantly evolving” is a cliché we always say, and that is especially true in the tech world. What you know in the month of January might be totally flipped on its head when a new release of that comes out in February or March, and if you’re not keeping up with these things you will constantly be playing catch-up. We are trying to make life easier, that’s the basic idea of what we do. We try to make processes easier, more automated and need less human interaction. When you’ve been doing things a certain way and someone comes along with an upgrade which helps achieve the same results – or even more- in less time, just like that, the old is cast away, because it doesn’t match up to the new standards. If you’re in situation where you just get the base knowledge and then think you’d be popping with a nice car and house, you are sadly mistaken because what you think you know is just the basics. Sometimes people say that “it’s easy, it’s a chilled job nah”, and yes, they are chill jobs in a way, but mind you, every waking moment – especially as a programmer – you are constantly thinking of how make this particular thing work. You’re using the tools you know to make things easier and better for the future. So it is an environment where you have to constantly be thinking. You may see people playing games and doing all of that but you have no idea what really goes on in their heads, they’re going mad LOL.
Another thing is, the jobs are not sure, not as sure as you would think anyways. You can’t really say, “oh I’ll start off as a Junior Engineer, and in about two or three years I’d be owning my business”, most especially in this country. Like most jobs, it is a matter of who you know & what you know. In most professions, when you’re done with your first degree, the next thing is hopping on to start a Masters program, the idea being that having a Masters opens you up to more job opportunities. Fine and dandy, it’s a great rationale, but it’s not always so for computer-minded courses. Most computer courses don’t deal in degrees, they deal in certificates. So if you’re not taking professional courses alongside that Masters program to boost up your skills, there’s a strong likelihood that when you finish the degree and are job searching you would be asked what professional certifications you’ve gotten to earn the job. So if you’re going to do a Masters program, please make sure professional certifications are also attached. If you’re done with a Bachelor’s degree, it will be beneficial to look for professional certificates as well.
Another misconception about the tech space is these companies are filled with “young” people. It’s actually a recent development to see younger people in tech. In this country (sidenote: I don’t why this country is like this lol), the “older” men are still are at the helm of affairs and don’t want to change their way of thinking. There are certain courses and certificates that you would get that when you show them, people know that tremendous work went into it. But in Nigeria, even though you bring the hardest certificate in the world and present it, many still don’t know the value of it. So you see people with certificates that are supposed to be earning them, let’s say, half a million a month struggling for entry-level job because the person in charge does not know the worth of the certificate that they are holding. There are so many issues when it comes to the tech world, but again, there are many opportunities to “make money”. if you are selling goods & you need a website, you are going to pay me. People are creating more online marketplaces now, going bigger than posting pictures on Whatsapp and telling people to patronize. Freelancing is where it is at, I would say. So if you’re new to this world, I’d just tell you to try, if you can, and learn a bit of web development. Las las everybody needs a website, and they’re going to come to you for a website.