November 17, 2022

How To Break Into Tech - Tips From EntryLevel students 💻

Advice from EntryLevel students



Yay! The webinar has now started. I'm excited to see how many people we get because yeah, we accidentally started this webinar like three times already. So I appreciate everybody's patience. 

Okay, I can see a lot of people have joined. The numbers just keep going up and up. I hope you are all excited too. I'm so excited to hear all your advice. Alright. 

Let's see if we can hit a hundred. Thanks for coming, everyone. I think most people are calling in from the West African time zone but I am in PST, so that's Vancouver. 

Caleb, you’re in Kenya, right? 


No, I'm in Lagos. Lagos, Nigeria. We’re all in the same time zone.


Oh, right. Yeah. So I'm the only one in a different time zone. 




Maybe, somewhere our attendees will have someone also in North American time zone but… 


Is anyone here not from West Africa? 


I don't think participants can chat. Maybe they can? I don't know. This is the first time I've done this. 


Should we turn on chat, Jennifer? Because we…we probably could. So right now, it's only us and panelists that can see. 


Okay, yes. So I just turned it on. So feel free to write down which time zone you're calling in from as we wait for more people to file in. 

Oh, we have somebody calling in from India. Okay, what time is it? What time is it there now? Like, eight, nine PM. Did I get that right? Oh, someone from Kenya. 

Yes. Awesome. 

Okay, most people are from Nigeria. Can… Oh, somebody from England! I'm so excited honestly.


Africa, Ghana, cool.




Cameroon, nice. That's cool. 


Oh wow! So many people from all over. 

Not gonna lie, ever since I'm hosting all these events, I learned so much about geography, so I always love asking this question. 


I think I saw someone from Ireland. 


Oh, what time is it there? Ireland. 4 P.M. Okay that's not too bad. 




I don't think we have… Okay, so Entry Level is based in Australia but I don't think we have any Australians here today because I think it's like two or three a.m for them right now. So, yeah. Alright. I think I'm just going to get started because I am so excited to hear our amazing panelists’ advice. 

So just some housekeeping before we start. 

Thank you so much everybody for being here. This is our Entry Level’s break…how to break into tech event and we have some amazing Entry Level students who have successfully broken into tech and I'm so excited to hear their stories. 

So just a quick intro about us before we actually get into everything. 

Entry Level helps you learn and get experience so that you can get hired and you can see these are our programs. Our panelists today have taken — I believe — the product management level one program. Oh by the way, product management level two is coming soon, so I'm so excited for that. You are the first to hear it by being here at this event. So thanks for being here and I believe John Paul took the Venture Capital analyst program, that's another very popular program. Alright.  

So I actually have a question for everybody. What is your level of experience in tech? There is a poll with this, so you should be able to see the poll where you can vote. Whether you're a complete beginner, you started learning tech a little bit, you've taken a few courses and now job searching or if you currently work in tech. 

So I see the votes coming in. Feel free to vote in the poll but if you're unable to see the poll, you can probably just put it in the chat. 

Awesome. It looks like…wow, wait. Panelists, can you see the poll? Wizards, because it's pretty. 


Yeah, yeah, yeah. Can you? Yeah, a lot of people have taken courses and are searching for jobs. 


Yeah, that's super cool. I…that's like…I kind of expected people to be complete beginners and started learning a bit, but it looks like it's more evenly split. Awesome. 

I'm going to end the poll now. So in case you were curious, these were the results. You can see the winner is, people have taken a few courses and are job searching and then some people have started learning a bit. We have six people who currently work in tech, so that is great for those six people. I kind of want to know who you are, so you can share your advice too but this is not the event for that. Just so you know the agenda today; we're going to do a panelist intro right after this and then you can ask your questions using the Q and A box. 

So on the bottom of your Zoom screen, you should be able to see a box that says Q and A and that's where you can ask the panelists questions because we are not able to see you and we are not able to hear you, so you just have to use the chat or the Q and A. 

Okay, so some rules before we start. Please be respectful. I love the engagement in the chat but please don't say anything inappropriate. Like, don't ask any super inappropriate questions but I trust that you guys have common sense and won't do that. Like I said, you can use the Q and A box to ask questions. You can even upvote other questions that you think are good so we can answer it first and then you can also comment on questions if you agree or disagree with it. But like again, just know that we can't see or hear you, so you will have to use the chat or the Q and A box. 

And another announcement that we do have some other events. So if you're interested in UX design or like data analysts and product management, these are our upcoming events next week. So you can see that in slash events which I will link in the chat in a bit.

Okay, now the part we've all been waiting for. These are our amazing panelists; we have Oluwatoyin; the product manager, John Paul; the Venture Capital analyst and Lola; the product manager. 

So I'm going to call on you one by one to introduce yourself. So, Oluwatoyin, do you want to go first? 




Hello, we can hear you. How are you?


I'm good. I'm trying to put on my video. Hi everyone! Can you see me? Hi! 


I can see you. 


Yes, you can?


Yes, it's a little bit lagy.


Okay, but can you see?


Yes, you look beautiful. 


Yeah we can. 


Thank you. Hi everyone! Good evening. Hi everyone! It's so great to be here. It's amazing. I love being here because Entry Level is right up my street, so it's so great being here. Thank you so much. My name is Oluwatoyin Abioye. I am a product manager in…here in Nigeria. I help develop solutions — successful solutions —  for the banking industry, fintech and also I've worked in edutech and it's been an amazing journey. That's just me, in a little summary. Thank you. 


Amazing introduction! I'm so excited to hear more about your story and your advice but in the meantime let's move on to some other intros. 

John Paul, do you want to introduce yourself? 

John Paul

Oh awesome! Thank you Jennifer. Hello everyone. I'm John Paul and I'm a VC analyst over here in Nigeria. So I'm super excited to be here because I feel like it's also a way to give back to the company or perhaps the community that actually trained me. I did participate in Entry Level program. In fact, at the end of the sixth week probably two weeks later on, I landed my first role as a VC analyst and since then it's been an amazing journey. So literally, I work with the fund called Adverse. They invest in induction projects in Africa and then, as part-time I also work at Proximity VC, an early stage Venture Capital firm that actually invests in startups across Africa too. So you could see after six weeks at Entry Level, I'm actually handling two reputable jobs. 


That's amazing, thank you. Oh thanks so much for sharing. Oh, I'm so like touched because you were wanting to give back. That's an amazing thing that you said. So thanks for sharing and I'm so excited to hear more about your experiences and advice for our students. That's actually a very good segue into Lola's introduction because I actually got introduced to Lola through Twitter and Lola had tweeted something like from taking a product management course to like, handling six products or something really amazing and that's how I got to know her. So, Lola do you want to introduce yourself? 


Okay, hi everybody. My name is Lola, Omolola Odunowo. I’m a product manager for any work. 


is it me? like… 


I can't really pinpoint…work at different companies. Do you hear me? 


Yes, I can hear you now. 


Can you hear me, Jennifer? Okay, I think my network… 


Yes I can hear everyone now. More than one person. 


Yeah. I was saying that I'm a product manager. I work across multiple product lines and yeah, I also work as a tech analyst for a company in the US. So yeah, that's really it about me. I joined — at least I started, you know, training with — Entry Level. I think their first ever cohorts. So that was…that was very interesting to…to kind of, you know, be able to feel like, you know, what it's…what it's…what it gave to kind of work and kind of work with teams across different cultures, different groups and everything. So yeah, I enjoyed the whole process. 


Oh thanks so much for sharing that. You're doing so much, it's amazing. Excited to hear your advice too. So now I'm going to pass it off to Caleb and Caleb I believe you have a few questions to ask, so you can go ahead. 


Awesome, thanks so much. I’m so excited, so excited to be here with these amazing, I guess like, tech workers and tech pros now who have done our programs. It's really cool to…to be around Lola, JP, John Paul and Oluwatoyin as well. So yeah, thanks so much for…thanks so much everyone, like, to everyone who's come along. 

I'm gonna dive into a couple of questions on just…just about like what our panelists are doing, and also what their process and journey was like, going from, you know, not working in tech and doing maybe more traditional careers into getting into tech. 

So before we dive into the how, maybe we'll start with like, what everyone's doing right now.

So yeah like, JP, John Paul is a VC analyst, Lola and Oluwatoyin, both product managers but I'd love to know — what do you each do in your day-to-day? Like, what does your day-to-day look like in your career? And maybe we can start with Lola. Like, what do you do on the day-to-day, Lola? 


My day-to-day is basically between meetings, different meetings by the way. So I'm usually either, you know, talking to the designers, talking to the developers, talking to the marketing team. Just basically being an all-rounder, ensuring that everything that has to do with the product is…is 100 percent ready. 

I'm also trying to, in some capacities, mentor other product managers especially newbies because I understand how I started and I and I…I wished that okay, I had a guidance, right? So I…I decided to you know put that towards them and everything. So that's been... 

Then also as a technical consultant, I try to, you know, give advice to companies who…who are, you know, lacking in, you know, technical capacity. Try to just…try to monitor their development team because I also have some level of experience as a software developer. So yeah, that's my day-to-day basically. I’m very busy… 


So many things! Wow, that's incredible. I…I wonder how you juggle all of that but I'm really really excited to dig into how you started doing all that. 

John Paul, would you like to tell us a bit about, you know, what does your day-to-day look like at Adverse and also at Proximity Ventures?

John Paul 

Oh awesome, thank you Caleb. So my day-to-day, it's actually pretty straightforward; wake up and once I’m on my desk, the first thing I do is usually check my mails because most times, I've got Venture Partners at Adverse sending out due flows through our emails. After a while, so I go through those news and check out the decks that we sent for the day and then, I move them into the CRN that we use to actually manage them. 

So I had to update each companies according to their…the categories that they fall in and then of course, review some of those pitch decks to see the ones that we could actually potentially set up a meeting with. 

So literally, I'm more like the first point of contact when those pitch decks are being sent. So after which, I shortlist the necessary ones and then send them across to the team. Then, we usually schedule meeting at Adverse from 12. So, yeah, we schedule those meetings and I…I jump into those meetings. 

Actually, so I speak to Founders around the world; people building cool things. I think that's one of the…that's one, that has been one of the most eye-opening stuff because you do be here watch, seeing someone building the next fintech and then next thing, you hear someone building up an app that will allow people use their ussd for transaction (crypto based transaction) and next, you're seeing someone else building the whole world in the metaverse and next thing, you've seen someone else like building loans for people. 

So it's more like being on the forefront of whatever that is happening in the frontier market, especially in the emerging economy. And then, my day-to-day is literally similar to that of, like, at Adverse. It's almost similar to…to Proximity especially owing to the fact that I still handled the whole pipelines and the due flows that comes across and then I also go for day-to-day meetings. Like meeting with founders and where I take notes and after the…each meeting, we now sit over to analyze those notes. 

So most times as a VC analyst, you're literally an analyst, like research is a deep part of what you do, right? So spend most of my time also researching based on the markets that the startup we’re speaking to is in. You see, just to further understand the product. Research about the competitors and all that. And then once in a while in Adverse, I deliver research on an industry. Everyone, every two weeks. So I think that's literally what all my day-to-day is and pretty meeting field anyway. Thank you. 


Awesome! Thanks John Paul! That was great. That was a really good insight into what you do as a VC analyst. Sounds like a lot of things too. 

And yeah Oluwatoyin, I would love to hear about what your day-to-day as a product manager. Like, what do you do and yeah, how do you fill up your days? 


Okay. So my day-to-day is very similar to Lola's own as a PM. It's mostly meetings. There's a lot of meetings but then I usually categorize it into four. So what we do, we have stakeholder management, people management, discovery and then delivery. 

Now, stakeholder management is meeting with the stakeholders; where you get to talk about the vision of your product, what you want to do, how…how it aligns with the company's goals, and then you get feedback from what you've given them. So that's almost…it comes up a lot a lot of days. 

Secondly, people management. We have to talk to the users. We have to talk to those I work with; developers, designers. So it's a lot of meetings also. 

Then, discovery is when we sit down to talk about what we need to do. It's when we brainstorm, we look at our results and then we brainstorm, think about what we're going to do about a product. If it's in the research phase, we do the research. If it's not, we…we look at what we're doing at the moment. 

And then the delivery. This is where I get to work with the designers, developers, and then we try to work with them so we can get our products on time. So it's a lot of, a lot of meetings and then a lot of work. You work on your product vision, you work on your product strategy, you work on your product roadmap. It's…it's…it's quite a lot but it's very interesting to do. It's very interesting. Yeah, so that's what I do as a PM. 

So I work as a community manager sometimes. It's not constant for now but I enjoy doing this because it was one of the things I was doing before I transitioned into product management. And what this means is that I work with organizations, tech companies, to be able to…to meet with communities or to help them create communities where people can come together, talk about their products, talk about what it’s doing, the features, the advantages, ask questions, and get clarity on how to use the products. So that's what my day-to-day looks like. Yeah. 


That's awesome! Wow! Sounds really cool and sounds like there's a lot of stakeholders involved in that process. Yeah, sounds like it would be a very very interesting role. 

I guess while we're with you, I want us to go back in time a little bit, to a time before product management, the time before everyone was in tech. I'm really curious to know, like, what was…what was the panel doing before they got their first tech role? And like, what sort of…yeah, like, whether that's what you studied or the space you were working at? Be really curious to know, like, what was life like before tech? 

And yeah maybe we can start with Lola again. What were you doing before you…you got into product management and you got into tech in general? 


Okay. So, I was actually writing. I was writing. So I was a writer and I used to write for companies. I used to stratify…in strategize for companies. So I was either working in the capacity of a content writer or content strategist or digital strategist in…in any case. I was just strategizing, thinking of ways that, you know, they could do better, position themselves better, yeah. 

And then I started delving deeper into product writing and there, I think that was the first time I…I met a product manager and I was like, okay, who is this person? Like, you know, why I knew that I was reporting to that person, and that person was the one that was, you know, trying to ensure that everything was fine on the team. Basically that was when I worked at Enyata. So that was like my first ever, you know, like, real contact with who a product manager was. 

But yeah, that…that kind of gave me some level of insight into various fields that I now use in my day-to-day as a product manager. So I…I…I'm kind of happy for that kind of experience because it built me up into product management. So, yeah. 


That's awesome and like, what was the, you know, like, the initial interest? You were curious about it but, like, what drew you to take that…to jump into tech? Like, what was the…the like, the ‘why’ behind that? 


Okay, so I needed a challenge. I… writing was like, I felt writing was my comfort zone. I felt like I could…I could basically sleep and just write. So it's just like happiness to me, yeah? But I needed something that was going to push me and then I was talking to my cousin and I was like, okay, what is that thing? And he was like tech. and I'm like huh? What's that? Like, you know? I mean I'd heard of it but I thought it was going to be boring, right? 

So but then I…I started learning how to code and I…I found myself enjoying it, right? I found myself really having fun doing that. So I was now like, okay but later I was like, this coding will take so much of my time and I'm a youth, you know. So I was now like, well what can I do to find a balance? Still stay in tech but not be so techy at the same time. And then that was when a friend of mine introduced me to Entry Level. Yeah. 


That's amazing. So cool Lola, thank you. 

John Paul, what was life like before tech? What were you doing before you started in VC and before you broke into tech? 

John Paul

Actually, I think I was in medical school. I was going to be a medical physiologist, yeah. I was just going to be a research scientist anyway. So it was a case of…in school, someone still introduced me to — more like a cousin — actually gave me HTML for dummies. 

I decided to like, read up the whole code myself. After a while, built out a few things. I did enjoy my time there, no lies. But like, so being self-taught, I was still able to land my first role at  U-lesson. You can call it a stroke of luck but as, when I rounded off, when I left the company, I decided to build something out of my own but when it failed I came across a lady who was like, okay, I'm doing VC. I'm like okay, you know what? I should actually have you mentor me. Well after a while, worked a little briefly with her and I realized that I needed…I still had a lot to learn. So hopefully, one day — I don't usually go on Facebook — I saw an Entry Level ad. I decided to make a screenshot and then decided to sign up on the site and then luckily for me, I got into program... and I got into the program, and I participated in it. 

So after the participation in the program, one of the things we were actually taught was how to land a role, I think. Yeah, how to learn the role in the VC space and so one of them was like, we had a lot of projects that we did and all that. 

So coming new into the VC space I had nothing to really show for it other than, I was doing some pithy works in the former place I was working in. So I grabbed everything I had, like, the whole program project, those were my main portfolio at that moment. So I decided to start cold mailing people on LinkedIn. Yeah, exactly. So that was actually how it worked. I cold mailed some few persons and one person actually replied. I'm like, okay, let me see what you've got and I had an interview with him, he saw my project, he saw the whole research and the whole research we carried out during the Entry Level program and then he was like, okay. 

He was going to introduce me to…to the investment manager. They introduced me to the investment manager and he was like, okay, so I would like to actually know an industry that you're super interested in and all that. I was somehow then, even as a founder, I was somehow interested in no loss betting and all that. I…we discussed a lot about the market but the insight I got from Entry Level really helped me to analyze market. 

So I became a good market researcher. I could literally detect trends and all that. So…and I was given a huge research to actually carry out. So and he was like take your time, if it would take you one month… Of course I knew it wasn't going to take me one month. So I sat down, I did the whole…I ran the whole research on Wednesday. I was supposed to deliver on Monday, I decided to deliver on Friday. 

Then he called me for a meeting within the few…within the weekend and I'm like, okay. You seem to be the right person for the role and…and then that was it. 

So, that was how I actually got my first breakthrough in VC space. So I used to see myself as someone that broke in through the window because the conventional person who is always VC most times, they seem to have finance background. I don't have any finance background. It took six weeks of Entry Level program and some research and which I did participate actively in…in order to get there and then while there, I still messaged… so at, in our Discord Community, I think that's something cool about Entry Level program, the cohort.

Caleb was actually playing music. I think he was head of programs. Yeah, he was head of programs and he was actually playing music and I'm like, okay. I saw a symbol on his profile that said, ‘connect with his music’, or so. Spotify, actually for Spotify play. I decided to connect. I started listening to what he was listening. He was working and I had already sent him a message on Discord, he didn't want to reply me. I was just playing. I was vibing to his music. All of a sudden, he stopped the music. He's like…he left offline, so I couldn't connect with him again. So I went to…to LinkedIn to search him up. I connected and I said, ‘hey, I kind of like, loved the music you were listening to and all that.’ Then we got the connection. So when it was actually time, then after a while, I saw… I got a mail, the notification was like, ‘oh I would like to work some…with someone in my fund’. ‘I’m proximity VC. You have to do this, that.’ 

I looked like…I'm like, okay, this person, like, I want to work with him. I did enjoy his music taste. So I applied, he interviewed me, and here I am. So that's how I got into two roles, like, within… well I got into the first one, literally within two weeks. Then the other one was I think, a month or two after. So that's it. Thank you. 


Wow! Awesome! Thanks, JP, John Paul. That was great. Loved that backstory and yeah, it's amazing. I think Jennifer wrote it down but like, a key insight that… and this is true, a key insight is like just finding a similarity between you and someone else who… who you want to work with or collaborate with. Whether that's like an interest or like a trend that you find in common or yeah…or like the same music taste. Sometimes that can really go a long way. 

But yeah, JP, like, awesome backstory. I'd really love to know, like, you…you were studying to be, to do medicine and you ended up doing like, you know, learning HTML. Like, why, like, how did that happen? And what was that…that transition from like, you know, studying medicine to getting into tech like? Why did… what made you interested in tech in the first place and what made you switch from medicine?

John Paul

Okay, at first it was curiosity… curiosity. Someone gave you HTML, CSS. I decided to try it out, then I got intrigued but then after a while, I think what happened was that, I just started discovering what my purpose was, really. I…it wasn't really going to be in the medical aspect. Probably, I had got into there due to the…well an ambition from when I was small and then another one, through family influence. So it was more like that point, okay, actually, I did this, I loved it, maybe I could actually explore more. 

So, a typical person could have just continued in coding and then I'll be so good in coding because I still…I still worked with one of the largest edutech platform in Africa, U-lesson after the whole coding stuff but that wasn't just the final… that wasn't the destiny. Like, it was more like a process. Like, that wasn’t my final destination, right? 

So that's… so it was more like discovering purpose while in school and then chasing that purpose and then leaving medicine. And I knew when I rounded off, my parents were like, okay, you’re done with your four years. So why not go back and complete the whole medicine? I'm like, okay. I wasn't like, I was… I just wasn't interested. After a while, applied to a university in Uk… in Russia and got admitted and then covid hit. So that was the good pain point. I spent that one year building things for myself. 

So I think, that, that really shaped everything and by the time the covid was called off, I was already working and my father could see the result of whatever I was chasing that was my purpose, right? So there was no way for him to actually say, ‘oh you have to go back to this and that and all that’. No. So that was it. 


That's awesome. Thanks for the backstory JP. That was so good. 

Oluwatotyin, I would love to know, yeah, like, what were you doing before tech? What was your life like before tech? And what…what was your background? And then why did you make the move as well? 


Okay. So for me, it's…mine is quite different. I studied engineering then. Before tech, actually I've been working for like, five years. So I was working in the banking industry, working…we can say that’s tech, I don't know. But I was working in the banking industry, working around customer success. 

Then, I also founded a women's group where…where we support ourselves to launch our dreams and all of that. So I was working and serving as a leader and a community manager in that role but then, in my banking industry, I was…it was a customer facing role. So we had to attend to customers, we have to talk to them, answer their questions. Then I found that, that, sometimes, we were just giving answers that were not helping them. We would just say something and it won't work for them. So I was thinking that I wanted to get into… I wanted to be able to shape the product. I wanted to be able to put some things in the products. 

So I started researching and thinking about it. Is there anything like that? Where I can get into a product? I am…and I won't be a management person but I'll be able to get as a product, I'll be able to say, oh this is what customers need, can we put this thing? Or can we put this in our product? It was one of the…the biggest banks here in Nigeria. 

And I researched, and I found out about product management. It was just what I needed. It clicked. Oh this is what I needed to do and then I started searching for courses to take. You know, a lot of courses online, free courses and everything but after the few courses, you get a certificate of completion and nobody wants to give you a job with that. So I was at a crossroads and then I found out…okay, so I got a…a little role as a product management intern. I started working that but it wasn't really fulfilling for me. 

And then I found out about Entry Level. What sold me on Entry Level was that, I was going to build a portfolio. That was the difference for me. That was it for me because I didn't have a portfolio. There was nothing to show and then I'd heard that product managers don't really need portfolios and then when you get to interview rooms, you start, some people ask you for portfolios and then just a few people that have it. So that was the edge for me. 

Entry Level helps you to get a portfolio while you're going through the program. That was just the end…the edge for me. So after getting that, after getting the Entry Level certificate, I then started applying for more roles. So because of my experience, I've had like four years, five years experience. Because of my experience, because of my little PM job that I've done and all of that and because of my portfolio, I got into a lead products job. It was…it was just…it was just something else. So that was my own transition to tech. That was how it happened for me.  


That's so cool! Amazing! And I feel like you covered why you wanted to make that move as well. You were like, how do I put these things into products? Like, how do I shape the way something exists? Is that right? Is…was that part of the motivation? 


Yes, that was it. Yes. 


Yeah. So cool. I guess, from here I'd love to just know like, you know, you…you tried out, like, you were in banking, you tried out like an intern role in PM, and then eventually you did Entry Level, you got a portfolio, you eventually get a lead role. But like, maybe talk us through what was that period like, where you were searching for the job, like, and what sort of things helped you get the job. What was that process like and, you know, Entry Level sounds like one, but like, was there anything else you did that really helped you in finding that job? 


Okay. So I think that, one of the things is to get your skill, just build your skills, number one.

Number two, you need to get a portfolio. We need to see…people need to see what you've done. We need to see what you've done. Even if you say it, they need to see what you've done so they can just go through and then that helps. That’s true.

Thirdly, you need to reach out to people. Like John Paul said, he sent cold emails to a few people. I have done…have done that…I've done that and the role I got came from LinkedIn. So it was one of those persons and person says, ‘oh hi, I think I have a role that you would love, a role that would work for you’ and that was how I got it, just… So I went on an interview and all of that. 

So like I said again, the first thing, you need to get your skills. Get your portfolio, it's very very important. Network, connect, meet people. You need to be able to talk about what you really want to do. 

And I also want to say that LinkedIn is a very important tool for you if you’re a job seeker. You need to put out the things you've done. You can check…check people's pages. Check Caleb’s LinkedIn profile. Check different LinkedIn profiles, see what they've done. It's very important for us to be able to see what you've done at a glance. 

In LinkedIn, I can see — oh she worked here, then she moved here, then she moved there, then she moved here. It's important to see that progress. 

So it took me a while, it took me a while before I got the role. Maybe about six months, six months to one year. But remember that I was already working as an intern and then I had behind me like five years experience working in a really really cool place. But then it was after doing all of that, I got the role. 


That's amazing advice, and I totally agree. I think like, yeah, there's so many factors that go into finding a job. Sometimes it's like, I'll do this program and I get the thing or like I…I network and I get the thing. But there's so many, it seems like there's a lot of pieces, right? Like…


Yeah, there are lots of pieces and it's because you can't say that this is the one that will click. You can't be sure, so you need to do everything you are supposed to do. You need to work on yourself. Know what you are saying. Really know… know that you can give the skills, you can do the job. You need to do that. You need to get different spaces. Just get them ready. Any of it can click. Any. 


Yeah, that's awesome and I guess like, when you got the job, was there feedback that you got when you were hired which was like, ‘Hey like, we loved you as a like, you know, we really liked…you had this thing or this experience or like, you had this quality.’ Was there anything that was like, that stood out to them when they hired you? 


Okay. Three things that I remember; one in my bio, I add ‘woman in products’. I don't know what that…I don't know why that will make a difference, but it made a difference. Okay, so okay, okay. So I remember he said that he went to LinkedIn to search for maybe, product managers or something and then he saw a ‘woman in product’ and he felt that was unique and it checked. I don't know why that worked, but why that worked. 

Number two, my certifications. I had…I have a certification from Entry Level. I have some other free courses that I've done. Although those ones will just give you certificate of completion and all of that, but I had my certification, then I had my portfolio, number two. 

Number three, I had experience in customer facing which was important for them because of the role I wanted to do. It might not be important for others, if they are not looking for the kind of role that I looked for. 


Yeah. That's awesome, that's super helpful. I feel like that feedback is like really helpful for anyone else who's looking for a job and and wants to think through what they need to…to land that role. 

Yeah, Lola let's…let's go to you next. What was the process of finding…of getting your first tech, tech job? And like what are the things that you did that helped you land that job in the end? 


Okay, first of all I had to understand that it wasn’t going to be easy first of all, right? And I had to also understand what networking meant. So I had to start, you know, meeting people, coming out on my shell a bit more, right? Trying to…trying to obviously start making friends in tech. 

So like, you know, having a product designer as a friend, having a, you know, a maybe, mobile engineer as a friend. I needed to start building my circle the right way, along the lines of what I wanted because there's so much that as a product manager, you can actually do with a team and your team does not have to be, ‘oh let's wait until we are professionals’. Like, the way Entry Level taught us, right? We can actually like, reach out to our fellow friends, reach out to our fellow…reach out to our fellow, you know, just fellow people that we know. Oh you too, you’re also learning this or you're learning that. Okay, let's come together, and let's try to build something. 

I feel like as a product manager, you can't really stand on your own for too long. It's not a sole role, right? So it's not really a sole role but one thing I can actually say to this is that as a product manager, you actually need… you actually need people around you. You actually need people in your circle and that is because you are going to build a product and in building a product, you need a team. These people are the ones that you will manage, these people are the ones that will help you understand your users and everything, you know. 

So basically I had to understand that to…to enter, to break in, I needed to first of all start making connections, the right connections, the right way. 

Then I also needed to understand that I needed to document my journey. I needed to tell people what I was doing even if people were not going to read it. I just needed to do so. ‘okay this is what I'm up to.’ ‘this is how it's going’, either on my Medium, either on my Twitter. I was doing that and I still do that from time to time, right? So I was just doing that, telling people about my journey, whoever cares to listen, can listen. 

And I remember the first time I was getting like my first ever role, the senior PM then told me —  this was the exact question for me — ‘I'm going to give you a chance, right?’ And…and that was because in between myself…and it was between myself and a guy. And she was more like, okay, you know, you really did well and this guy also did well, but one thing I was going to use was that, how many women are in tech? And then I was like, I don't know. She was like, well, we are not much because she's the only product manager on her own team. And yes that thing, also, that also comes up even when…when I'm working. I still see like I'm the only product manager —  female product manager and even the lady — in the team. So, yeah, it’s…it's…it's… it's really crazy but yeah, these are some of the things I did to break in for myself. Yes. 


Wow! Yeah, I mean that…that's so…it's so interesting. Like, I think one of them that…that you said, that feels like pretty, almost like kind of weird, is just like having friends who work in the space. That can have a huge influence and like not just, you know, whether you want to go in or not, but like whether you're likely to get in. You know, you're talking about tech with those people, you're talking about the job, you're talking about like the different things you work on. So that, that's…that's some really cool advice. 

And then also, just like, sharing everywhere. Like, being really public about your journey is really cool, and I think that's how we found you Lola. Like, we saw that you were tweeting about Entry Level. Like yo! Who's this? That's super cool. Awesome. Thanks for that insight.

John Paul, like, would love to know, how did you lend your to… Like, what was the process like for you? Going in from like, I guess being a founder or being in like, in medicine, to getting into Venture Capital? Like, what were the things that you did to get to that role? 

John Paul

Okay. I'll…like, after my or after the whole medicine stuff I had stated earlier. Well, I was already, well to some extent, I was already up to speed in coding, served and then got a role. Like, through actually a network in my first job at U-lesson where I was actually developing educational games for them.

But then, my entrance into the VC space, I think it was…it was a case of luck because after I had left my role at  U-lesson, what I'd built had actually failed. So I was more like taking a rest. So I was at that down moment and then and I was supposed to have a merger with someone who was building a company too in the Eastern space. So once I answered, I messaged her and she was like, oh she's no longer building the company. Apparently hers failed too. We were both in similar industries, so I'm like, I'm doing this, you know, I'm like okay. I want to become your unpaid intern. So I literally joined the firm a little bit. Worked like… but the work wasn't that much. So it was more like an unpaid intern, there wasn't really much work but then it was still insightful. 

When I came out, it was also clear — glaring — that I knew nothing. I just needed to upskill in the area of VC because I loved what I saw in the firm. It was more like a tip of the iceberg but I knew with what I had there, I wasn't going to get a job. So in fact, I never really thought about having a portfolio even. So when I saw the Entry Level ads, advert on Facebook, I decided to actually sign up. 

Then, like, at times it still amazes me that I paid just five dollars to learn all those other stuff because after a while, yeah, because I applied for scholarship and then I was given a five dollar scholarship. So, so, I mean, well, I was, I was meant to pay five dollars. 

So after the program, I sat down, I started cold mailing people. I think that was the point of it but then there was something I did; I gathered all my projects and then I placed them in a kind of like, PDF file, like a dossier. 

So the first guys I actually tried to…out — like I was making an audacious move — was Text Stars. These were big guys. I was just shooting my shot, spoke with their manager. I think ...I think the program manager on Twitter. He was like send in your portfolio, I sent it in. Till date, I'm yet to hear from them. 

But then I switched from Twitter and I moved to LinkedIn, then I started messaging, like, as much firm as possible but then, I was also like more…like I was messaging the core person. Like, you needed to be a GP for me to message you. 

So out of all my cold mail, only one worked, and then he called me for an interview, and then he requested, let me see your work. The only thing I shared with him was because I think during the Entry Level program it was highlighted that you could actually use your project as your portfolio. So that was the… that was what like…that was literally everything I had. So I sent it in and then he called me, and then we had a conversation, and I was also up to speed with whatever is it I did during my projects…during my projects studies at Entry Level. 

So I fell in love with research, literally because I could literally tell you about markets, I could literally tell you about the whole market sites, and it brought me up to speed. So the conversation with the GP was convincing enough for him to just introduce me to another person into the company. More like the person I'm…I'm, like, I'm currently working under and then he gave me a research to carry out. So when he read the research that I carried out, he was actually, like, he was so excited that when I joined him, he had to present the research as if I carried it out as their…as…as an employee of the company, so and everyone loved the research and all that and… 

So that was actually, that was what the process was like for me. But if I had actually gone back and looking back and if I never had those lucky breaks, I think one thing I could have done was, I was already planning to start running another research in terms of fintech. I was literally just going through anything tech research, just to keep beefing up my portfolio, to keep building it up and of course, start posting on LinkedIn. 

But as lucky as I am, like, not like I don't need to do that now. I now do that for companies that — for the venture firms —  that I work with. Thank you. 

Caleb, you’re mute. 


Whoops, sorry. So I was saying one of, like, one of the cool things that you did was like after getting a portfolio, going into cold emailing people and just…just like finding people who make decisions at companies and cold emailing them. We actually have a question and I think it would be good to answer it live. Which is, you know, how did you tackle cold emailing and were there any strategies that you use? Tell us like, how do you cold email someone and like how do you get…convince, you know, a partner at a firm to get on a call with you? 

John Paul 

Okay. So first, what I did like the cold mail I sent, it's…it just literally started with, I would use like an actual example because I still remember what I sent them. It was like; Hello Vincent.  Okay, I just rounded off my Entry Level program at this place and then I was also opportuned to work, like, to train under Agnes at so so so Venture Capital space and I'm done with my internship and after I said I was done with internship, I think next thing I actually attached was to tell him that okay this…it's like, more like, my portfolio. 

So what he did was like, he just said okay and you said like when…I…he was like…like it was just a direct conversation. I think he just said okay. Would you be like… Can you set up a call? When are you available for a call? I think that was…that was his response. Then I had to like, we had to just negotiate on the time, probably just a little here and there and then we found a suitable time. Then let me shock you, during my first interview, I was in that interview 10 minutes before time so I was so excited. I sat down but then I don't know if you've ever been in this Google meet stuff whereby if you stay long in an interview, it somehow locks you out without even you knowing that you're like, you're no longer… so he was there in the meeting waiting for me. I was also in the meeting but I don't know, the network messed up. Then he came on Linkedin and messaged me that, ‘I was there but you weren’t there.’ I said I was there. I had to start sending proof that I was there, then we had to reschedule a second meeting and so it was also a case of — at that moment I was lucky because they were in search of an associate but they hadn't posted, it was yet to be posted online.

So what I realized is that most times, companies hire through good…most companies hire through their network. Those jobs are not always listed. So you just have to do the little work, the little juggling by actually reaching out. So that was it. It was just a direct email; I just rounded off this, here's my portfolio and this. And then, I think probably, the ‘my portfolio’ got him attracted because I think one thing Entry Level did was, for every time I list my project, if you looked at my portfolios, it’ll be up to like, well, three or four projects that was carried out.

So like, it was enough for you to actually know whether I knew what I was doing or I wasn't.


That's awesome. Thanks for that practical advice, John Paul. It was really really cool. 

I might just put a question out to everyone now and anyone can come in with their…their thoughts on this. And that is like, you know, you guys have like, transitioned from non-tech backgrounds into tech. You taught yourself a lot of stuff. You built out portfolios. You've like made the networks and like, built connections. 

What advice do you guys have for everyone on this call? Everyone on this call who's thinking about doing the same thing. You know, majority of the people here are learning how to break into tech and so, if you could look back at your experience and pick out some advice to give, like, what would that be for others? 

John Paul

Should I go first? 


Go for it. Yeah. 

John Paul

Oh, okay. I think I would actually… okay I think just one advice: Network like your life depends on it. That's just it. Like almost everything I've come from, like every…almost everything I've gotten now in terms of role, like they were all networked. My first role at U-lesson was landed because I went for a hike. I wasn't even applying. A hike, then someone brought it up to me. So I think that's the first thing. No matter…irrespective of the fact that you don't know it, I think, do not be ashamed of where you are. There are people in the ecosystem who are always willing. No doubt, there are also people who who prefers to be extremely professional but be able to like, come out, come clean. Network. Like, network like your life depends on…I think that's just it. 

And then the second thing, before you also put yourself out there, which is good, ensure that you could to some extent defend what you do because by…when you put yourself out there, it introduces you to people. The worst thing that can happen to you is when someone comes to you and they see that you're no longer the substance that you claim to be. 

And when you do that, it… it's like…it becomes your reputation because someone else may ask, ‘oh I just met with this guy. What's…what do you think of him?’ ‘Like, well when I spoke to him, I felt like he's not really up to speed or something of that nature.’ 

So I think that’s that. BBe very good at what you do. If you decide to actually go for VC program, like, focus on the research. Like, carry out the whole hands-on stuff, like back to back. 

And then when you decide to put yourself out there, be able to defend your spot and do it well. Thank you. 


That's great, that's really really cool. Nice. 

Lola, what advice do you have for others on this call on how to break into tech?


Okay. So I think first of all, I’ll say opportunity always needs preparation, right? So, and I think that's just a continuation from what John Paul has said but that is just the truth because while I was waiting, while I was applying and all that, I was also applying myself to things, right? So I was trying to know what was happening, follow up with tech news, you know, keep myself abreast on what was happening in the industry. Try to everyday, you know, if I wasn't trying to understand what was going on with UI/UX, I was trying other things because I felt like okay, I didn't get this or when I…when I put this particular thing now maybe… maybe I got rejected. I just like, I just take it as, okay, it has happened. There's something I always say, I always use rejection like, as body cream. I just use it to cream my body and like, okay cool, next one. Can we move on? I've been rejected. Yeah. 

So basically, I use those rejections to kind of gauge myself. So when I'm rejected outrightly, I'm like okay, I'm not doing something right, right? And maybe when I get to like stage one I'm like, oh okay, I'm starting to do something right but I'm not just there yet, right? So I kept like, telling myself this thing, right? 

And I just tried as much as possible to position myself in places where I knew that I could be seen. So I tried my possible best and again, I also tried my possible best not to have any shame. You know, I just tried my possibly best to leave shame at home and do what I wanted to do. You know, put myself out there. Whatever anybody was thinking, I didn't care. I knew what I wanted for myself and I had to like, put myself out there as much as possible, right? 

And then I'd say lastly, learn the right way, learn the right way, right? So after…after we take courses and everything, we should still go ahead and learn. You know, it's a never-ending process. You're coming into tech. Tech is like today something…something changes, you know, something new happens. It happens like…like this. It just happens so quickly. So what does that mean? If you're going to be a product manager, you have to understand that yeah…you’re, the one way to be at the Forefront of these things and that you need to keep yourself very very informed. You need to be very very, you know, sure about what you're trying to do, however you're trying to… 

And then again, confidence. You need to have confidence, a lot of confidence by the way. Not confidence that now undermines your team but confidence that, you know, you know what you're saying because you’ll meet team…you meet team members, starting developers, a lot of them are very, you know, cocky and everything like that but you meet developers that want to like gauge, who is this person? You know, what does this person have to do with me? So you have to always come correct. Be you know, be 100 percent at all times. You…you can… there's no room to slack as a product manager. Yes. 

So I think I just want to advise them lastly, to honestly have their own way of product managing. There's no one-size-fits-all approach. So you need to have your own way to product manage, still following some laid down rules but then still have your way of going around it. A way that you understand best and a way that can obviously give you the best products. Yeah, thank you. 


That's amazing. I love the quote ‘using rejection as body cream.’ That's such a great quotable and I think it's awesome. I think it's one of the questions that was asked as well, ‘like how do you handle and deal with rejection?’ and it's really cool that you use that as a gauge for like, where you were at. You got used to it, but you used it like, you know, kind of like data for yourself. So that…that's an amazing approach. Thanks a lot. 

Oluwatoyin, we’d love to know, you know, what advice do you have for people on this panel, people, you know, tuning in on how to break into tech? 


Okay. So I'll say gain experience and work on real projects. Like, everything they've been saying, you really need to be able to defend what you're saying with your mouth. So please, gain experience and work on real projects.

So if you're going to take the Entry Level course, don't play with it. Give it your best and then at the end, I keep talking about the portfolio. We need to see what you've done. So please you need to really work on… get your hands dirty working on real projects. 

Remember what John Paul said, he said he ran researches. He did a lot of researches and he put everything down. It is very important that you do that. 

The second thing I want to say is that you need to join a community. Join a tech community. It is very very very very important. You cannot do this on your own. You need people to support you, to guide you. Don't…don't go out looking for a mentor ‘Mentor’ in the sense…don't go and meet someone and say, ‘oh, be my mentor.’ It may not work like that because they have a lot of things they're doing and they would want to see what you've done before they say they’ll mentor you. 

So please look for tech communities. We have some in Nigeria, we have some outside Nigeria. When you sign up on Entry Level, you already get a community. A community comes with it… comes with the Entry Level cohort so it's important you do that. 

And then networking, you need to network. So as you're joining the…the community, don't be an island. Don't stay alone. Don't just be there. You need to meet people, talk to people, attend tech events, attend tech events, join tech Twitter. Nigeria has a tech Twitter community that is very vibrant. You have a lot going on in tech Twitter. There's a lot going on there. Join it. Be active. Learn and then put yourself out there. If you're sure about what you're doing or what you're learning, whatever stage you're at, put it out let us see. Let people see.

Then you see people coming up to you, asking you questions or wanting to help you do stuff. So I think those are the things I would like, to…to put out there. 


Amazing! That was such great advice and I guess, just a quick follow-up question. Like, what are some of the… like I heard tech Twitter and obviously like Entry Level has a community too but like what are some specific communities that people can join if they want to learn more about tech and… and be, you know, around other people building in tech? 

And Lola and JP, if you guys have thoughts on that, you can share as well. 


Okay. So okay let me go first. 

In Nigeria, let… I've been talking about Nigeria because right now, I'm in Nigeria. So in Nigeria, tech twitter; one, She Code Africa. So don't forget Entry Level has a community. So if you join, you sign up for Entry Level, there's a community, that's one. So tech Twitter, there's She Code Africa. It's for females — that's for females only, females in tech — She Code Africa. There's No Tech In Tech; that's for people in product management and product design, those who are not coding. There’s No Tech In Tech. If I remember…I remember any other one, I'll let you know but those are the ones that you can follow. There's Ingressive for Good, yes, there’s Ingressive for Good too. 


Amazing. Cool. Thanks so much. Guys, I think it's time. That was…that was an amazing panel and we learned all about like…about the three of you; how you started, what you're doing now and like the journey there. It was just such great insight into like… it's amazing because you all are doing… you know, you all had different paths into tech and you all have very different things that helped you break in. 

So I think it's like such a nice spectrum of like, how to get into tech and how to break into tech and for our…yeah, I guess for everyone tuning in, I hope that this was valuable for you and you managed to learn a little bit about how you can break into tech. 

I guess, like, to wrap up, just two things. One is, like, I'd really love to hear from you in the…in the messages, like, in the chat. Like, what's one thing that you learned from today that you're going to use when you look for a job in tech. 

If you could type that in, that would be really cool. Just so we can get to see like, you know, what you learned from this session. So feel free to put that, like, write that in the chat and I'll read a couple of them out and then as you go through that, like, there's also a feedback poll which will…which Jennifer can…can share a little bit more on, but we’ll get… let us know what…how you found this event and how we can host better, even more informative events for you. 

So not sure if you want to add to that, Jennifer but yeah. 


I'm just gonna wait for all of the questions, the insights and that needs to roll in but one comment I have is; please we mentioned tech Twitter a lot. I run the Entry Level Twitter, we tweet a lot of people in the tech Twitter community, so be sure to tag us when you share your learnings on Twitter or just give us a follow. I will also be including all the resources mentioned today on our website at Entry slash events, that will include the recording of the session today. So don't worry, you will still get access. You can re-watch this recording as many times as you want  and all the communities mentioned will also be on that webpage. So that's what I have to say Caleb, maybe back to you to read out people's learnings. 


Okay. Alright. Let's dive into what people have learned from today. 

Alice says, networking is what she said. That's great. A great portfolio project…project is the major thing I learned. 


Hands-on experience and portfolio. 


Focus on portfolio. 


Join tech communities, cold email, cold emailing like crazy, build portfolio relentlessly. 

And then someone learned…what they learned was to continue to update their portfolio, utilizing LinkedIn and other social media platforms. Networking like your life depends on it. Love that quote. Definitely a quotable from today. 

I'm definitely putting myself out there and working on my portfolio. 

Any…okay be confident and build network. 

Build portfolio, network massively. 

Yeah, a community is something I want to look at studying as a data analyst. That's my take from today. Cool. 

Well, there's so many of these. Let me see if there's any…any new ones. 


Okay while we're reading, I'm just gonna quickly launch a poll so it would help us improve future events, if you quickly help vote on how you found this event. It's just one question, really quick, you can let us know like, if we could be improving or if you found it very insightful. So feel free to vote on that now. 


Yeah, there's some really cool ones here. 

So, I'll keep practicing and getting my hands dirty on some data projects and updating my portfolio.

Go all out and ensure you can defend all that you have in your portfolio. 

Jerry says I've always been ashamed of sharing my ideas and stuff I work on but thanks to Lola, she inspired me to drop my shame at home. That's amazing. Go Lola! 

Aquarius says to join a tech community and volunteer. 

Yeah, putting yourself out there is key. 

Okay, cool. A lot of networking and yeah I think that's it, I think that's the…that's the roundup. 

We'll give it a few more minutes so everyone can give some…sorry, rate the events but I guess on our end that's…that's a wrap guys. Thanks so much for joining. Thank you so much to Lola, John Paul and Oluwatoyin for joining. Such amazing panelists! We've shared the…maybe I'll just share the…their LinkedIn profiles so you guys can connect with them in the future as well. 

Sorry, one sec. Awesome and yeah, if you guys have any other questions, you can email us. Yeah, email Jennifer at So good, thanks guys. We'll wrap up here. See you next time. 


Yeah, bye everyone. 


Bye so much guys. 


You guys, thanks so much.

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Have you been trying to break into your first tech role? Hear from others who've done it before - and get advice so you can succeed.

EntryLevel is excited to bring you expert advice at our ONLINE ZOOM EVENT: Break into Tech

In our live panel, Caleb (Head of Programs @ EntryLevel) will be talking to three of our students who have broken into tech, how they broke in, and what they learned along the way.

Come along to learn how to break into tech, meet other professionals in tech and connect with the EntryLevel team.


Oluwatoyin Abioye - Product Manager

Johnpaul Nwobodo - Venture Capital Analyst

Omolola Odunowo - Product Manager

Key insights from the event

Find a similarity between you and someone you want to connect with. Sometimes job searching and getting experience is all about connections!

A portfolio (shows all your projects and work) will help you stand out. Put your best work in them (EntryLevel can help you create a portfolio step-by-step)

Network like your life depends on it. Here are some tips for cold outreach and tips for networking. Join a community if you can!

"I've always been ashamed of sharing my ideas and stuffs I work on but thanks to Lola, she's inspired me to drop my shame at home."

"To all panelists you are all doing amazing and it's great hearing your stories!"

Here is the Zoom link with all the chat details, if you prefer reading the Zoom chat while watching.

Resources shared:

Resource hub:

Discover which tech career is best for you:

Career (resume, networking, mentorship)

Avoid resume mistakes:

Job search workbooks:

Portfolio websites:,,

Get feedback on your work, mentorship, etc.:

Biggest mistakes people make when finding mentors:

Get weekly career insights:

Tech communities to join

SheCodeAfrica (women in Africa only)

Non Tech in Tech (design, PMs only)


Newbie Product Management

All About The Data

Data Analyst

Alexa (previous EntryLevel student):

Advice for data newbies:

About us

EntryLevel helps you learn and get experience so you can get hired. Our 6-week programs are taught by world-class mentors, so you can learn and build a portfolio of work.

You'll learn with a cohort of driven peers, and each lesson is unlocked after a set time so you stay accountable and finish the program.

P.S. if you're having payment difficulties and you're in Nigeria, check out this troubleshooting guide: Nigerian Cards Declining


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Omolola Odunowo

Product Manager at AlgoCrib

Lola is a star student from the very first cohort of EntryLevel's product management program. After learning with us, Lola managed numerous software products to build up her experience.

Johnpaul Nwobodo

Investment Analyst at Adaverse

Johnpaul is a previous EntryLevel Venture Capital Analyst student. He currently works in VC, solving Africa's funding problem through DEFI Crowdfunding.

Oluwatoyin Abioye

Product Manager and Community Manager

Oluwatoyin is a Product Manager at Troyka Holdings Ltd, building scalable, customer-centric, and globally impacting products.

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