November 3, 2015

Episode 16 – Michael-Andre Joda

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Designer & Front-End Developer

Check out his projects: Barbershapp, The Right Spice, & The Arts Project 

What made you decide to work in tech?

I’ve always had an interest in tech from a young age, always experimenting with gadgets and computers. I initially started with a much more Art & Design focus with the majority of projects that I was working on covering branding and illustration. I hated code at first and could never have seen myself doing anything more than copying and pasting from Google. But once I sat down to create my first portfolio site, I started to understand and even enjoy the process. After some time I was able to start bringing my ideas to life and knew it was something I wanted to continue doing.

What was the biggest obstacle you faced?

I think self-improvement has been the biggest obstacle for me; it’s so easy to get comfortable once you’re at a competent level–whether it’s a new coding language or software package. Tech as a whole is so fast-moving and the key to staying on top is constantly refreshing yourself on new developments, new releases, new technology and always being in ‘student mode’ as there’s always more to learn. I’ve seen so many designers & developers stay set in their ways and turn a blind eye to anything new.

I try to keep up to date on blogs and magazines to make sure I’m aware of things as they release. I also make it a habit to share cool things that I find with others and vice versa, so we help each other.

What is your experience being a POC in Tech?

There have been pros and cons. It’s a still a surprise when I meet other POC in web development roles and even more of a surprise when they are WOC; there are not enough of us and it’s something I definitely want to see more of as people become more aware.

When I was starting out, things were difficult as I struggled with finding people around me who could advise me on how to get the roles I wanted; it wasn’t a common field within my circle of friends and family. Most people would just suggest College/University without a real understanding of why, so most of my journey has been me finding my own way and learning from my own mistakes.

On the flipside, I’ve also found that being a minority has allowed me to view things from a completely different perspective. There have been so many problems and areas that I’ve seen opportunities for innovation that may have been previously overlooked as they affect my community more than others. Having a skillset that allows me to create concepts and follow them through to completion has been a real advantage.

What was your perception about the tech industry before entering it, what is your perception now?

To be honest, I didn’t really know much about it. I guess I thought I’d need to spend years in classrooms or interning before I could even see myself in paid positions. 

There are definitely much more opportunities now to introduce people into the world of tech. From video tutorials to bootcamps to meetups, getting started has never been easier.

What advice would you give to a young person who wanted to enter tech?

Be flexible! Tech is broad so be open to all areas and don’t feel pressured to only specialize in one aspect (but if you do focus on one area, never stop learning and looking out for new things).

Work on some side projects! Personally I feel this is where most of the learning is done as you get to be experimental, you get to make mistakes and most of all you get to work on things that you enjoy.

Collab! Find others with a similar mindset to yourself and bounce around ideas and knowledge. So much can be learnt in teams and even more when there’s a diverse set of skills.

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Ruth Mesfun

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