How to transition into tech from other disciplines — Kolawole, CEO of AidPal

Oluwasanmi Raphael Kolawole is the CEO of AidPal Ltd. In this interview by PAUL OMOROGBE, he answers the question which many young Nigerians have on their minds: ‘How do I transition into tech,’ and how to handle the challenges that come along with such a move.

Many young people are interested in transitioning into the tech industry from various disciplines. What advice would you give to someone starting this journey?

My first piece of advice is to embrace a mindset of continuous learning. Tech is a dynamic field that evolves rapidly, so being open to learning new skills and concepts is crucial. Start by identifying which area of tech interests you the most—be it software development, data science, cybersecurity, or another field. Once you have a focus, you can tailor your learning path accordingly.

What are the initial steps to take when one decides to transition into tech?

One begins with self-assessment to understand your strengths and how they can be applied in tech. Next, invest in foundational knowledge. Online courses, coding bootcamps, and MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) are great starting points. Websites like Coursera, Udemy, and edX offer a range of courses that cater to beginners. Additionally, consider earning certifications to validate your skills and enhance your resume.

How important is hands-on experience in this transition process, and how can one gain it?

Hands-on experience is vital. It not only reinforces what you’ve learned but also demonstrates your ability to apply knowledge practically. You can gain experience by working on personal projects, contributing to open-source projects, or taking on freelance work. Internships and volunteer opportunities in tech-related roles can also provide valuable experience.

Can you share any tips on building a professional network within the tech industry?

Building a network is essential for career growth. Attend industry conferences, meetups, and networking events to connect with professionals. Online platforms like LinkedIn are also powerful tools for networking. Join relevant groups, participate in discussions, and reach out to individuals in roles or companies that interest you. Networking can lead to mentorship opportunities, job referrals and collaborations.

How can someone from a non-technical background leverage their previous experience in their new tech career?

Your previous experience is more valuable than you might think. Skills such as problem-solving, project management, communication, and analytical thinking are highly transferable. For instance, if you have a background in finance, your analytical skills can be a great asset in data science or fintech. Emphasize these transferable skills in your resume and during interviews to show how they can benefit your new role.

Can you tell us about your own journey into tech and your work at AidPal?

I studied Computer Science and Information Technology at University of Ado Ekiti and Sikkim Manipal University India, where I obtained my Bsc and Msc respectively. I started as a Software Engineer over 10 years ago and transitioned into project and product management. As a technical project and product manager, I have worked with reputable tech companies and seasoned IT professionals globally. I have contributed to open sources platforms like WordPress and have published several research works in reputable journals.

Currently, I am the CEO/Software Development Project Manager at AidPal Ltd, a tech-based company specialising in web, mobile app, and software development. One of our standout products is My WPHost, a digital platform where we sell hosting, domain names, and SSL certificates.

What role do soft skills play in the tech industry?

Soft skills are crucial in tech, just as they are in any other industry. Effective communication, teamwork, adaptability, and problem-solving are essential for success. Tech projects often require collaboration across different teams and disciplines. So, the ability to communicate ideas clearly and work well with others is highly valued.

What resources would you recommend for staying updated with the  trends and developments in tech?

Staying updated is key to remaining relevant in the tech industry. Follow industry news through websites like TechCrunch, Wired, and The Verge. Subscribing to newsletters, following thought leaders on social media, and joining online communities like Reddit and Stack Overflow can also help. Additionally, participating in webinars, workshops, and continuous education programs will keep your skills sharp and knowledge current.

Lastly, what words of encouragement would you offer to someone who might feel intimidated by the prospect of transitioning into tech?

Remember that everyone starts somewhere. The tech industry is full of people from diverse backgrounds who have successfully made the transition. With dedication, persistence, and the right resources, you can do it too. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, seek mentorship, and take it one step at a time. Every small step you take brings you closer to your goal. Believe in yourself and stay committed to your journey.

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