Hi, I'm Jennifer from EntryLevel. EntryLevel helps you learn and get experience so you can get hired. Today, I'm joined by Lola, one of EntryLevel's previous students. Lola received a product management certificate with us last year, and within three months, she got experience handling multiple software products. So, Lola, do you want to introduce yourself?
Yeah. My name is Lola. I am currently a product manager at Sageplexx Technologies. I'm a Nigerian, and I think that's really all for me. Yeah.
Do you have any fun facts you would like to share about yourself? Like something you enjoy doing maybe?
Okay. Yeah, I enjoy reading, writing, researching, writing code. I write code a lot, so, yeah,
that's really what I enjoy doing.
That's awesome. Wow. So, you know product management and you know code multi talented.
Yeah, I guess. Yeah.
So thank you so much for introducing yourself, Lola. I'm so excited to have you share your story with the audience and hopefully inspire other people who want to be just like you. So today my first question for you is to tell us your story. What was your learning journey like [with Entrylevel]?
Well, the learning journey for me was seamless because I remember they told us to - we had to onboard to Discord. So that was pretty cool. It's quite different from what I was used to because we don't really use Discord in Nigeria. When people say, okay onboard, I know they tell us onboard the Slack, mostly for programs like this because we don't learn how to code. That was also, like the process. We onboarded to Slack and everything. Discord has this - whenever I read stuff and my Discord, I never really knew what it was about, but it was actually really nice. Then they shared us into teams and also like, yeah, I got to meet my team members, consisting majorly of Nigerians. I think for most Nigerians, it was easier to relate because I was really good about that. I was like, maybe other people that I can really speak well to or something. But, yeah, it was nice to know that I was still with my fellow Nigerian brothers and sisters, so that's pretty cool. Yeah. So we studied together as a team, and I think I really loved my team, especially because at the time and everyone actually put their best foot forward. I mean, we have some foreigners with us, and those guys who came through, everyone was like, we really have to make this work as a team. Everyone has to pass. So we all had study time where everyone came online to study. It was very awesome. Yeah.
That's so amazing to hear. I think sometimes what really motivates you is other people who can study alongside you. So do you have a specific time that you all logged in and worked together?
Yeah, we usually have specific time, so we actually just have to understand each other's time zones. Really. So maybe some of the foreigners who are with us, we just had to really tell ourselves, okay, this is the time zone. Would you be available for this? Do you be available for that? So yeah, that was pretty cool. Yeah.
I love that you work together to figure all of that out with the time zones. I was wondering, how did you fit your learning into your day? Because I'm sure you were very busy. So when did you learn?
So it was more like. I mean, the EntryLevel was kind of spaced out for us, like spaced out in the sense that they would give us deadlines for certain things and so on. Maybe if I was busy at some point, but I just have it in the back of my mind that on this day, this is the deadline and whatever you are doing, you have to make sure that you are done with it. Before the deadline, you have to be able to submit. So I just like schedule a particular date that I would just probably go through the videos and. Yeah, that was how we did it then I think for the study times that one was consensual. Everyone actually consented to this time, so everyone had to be there. Yeah. We didn't have anyone's phone numbers, but I don't know, everyone just had that responsibility kind of vibe. So everyone came together for that. That was really nice. I liked it.
Are you still in touch with some of them or is it just you're not talking to them anymore?
Yeah, unfortunately not, because I don't know how it happened. I mean, everyone just kind of went there. Just more like everyone has really achieved what they came to achieve and everyone was just really happy with that fact. So I can't remember how it all feels about. I don't think I'm in contact with anyone, but it was more like we all knew. I don't know. I don't know how it's really explainable. Yeah, just all knew and just fine.
That's really interesting. Thank you for sharing. So what did you do after EntryLevel?
Okay, before EntryLevel ended, I can't remember his name, but I can't remember his name, but he told us like certain things. Okay. After this, this is what you should do as a product manager. I kind of want to say EntryLevel was just introducing us to product management and we still have to do our own research. Like, we still have to go for that, which give us our first ever like our quality caps on projects. So we were able to put together stuff and work on like, I think we work on Amazon cars at the time. So what happened was I just had to look at that again and reformat it. I really looked at it again and redeemed it in a professional way. Then I also like because I mean I have coding experience, so I also like how to code up my portfolio website. So when I did that, I placed product management there. Then I also went ahead to keep studying about product management. Then I opened Twitter and started talking about product management in two ways that I could. I also went ahead to also learn UI UX. It got the sense that we had to know how wireframing took place and such and such. So I went ahead to learn all of that for myself. Then I was also displaying that on my Twitter. So I was beginning to grow a collection family. Then I also took to Medium and that was where I was writing about my journey through product management. Yeah, I was just writing, kept talking about what I was doing. I remember I wrote on a particular topic, I think cognitive diversity in Pentatonix study and I just wrote it because I just really like the band Pentatonix found it related so band to product management and it kind of just works. And that is still like my most read article on Medium.
I am so amazed right now. I'm so inspired by you too, because coding, product management, UI UX, you're doing so much. How do you have time for it?
I think it's just the Nigerian thing, really. Nigerian youth, especially young adults in Nigeria, we just have to be that hard working, I guess. So we just have to really put our best foot forward because unfortunately the whole world has the assumptions about Nigerians. So what happens is you have to step things up because if Ghana, when they go abroad, they don't have to work as hard as we do because of those stigmas that we carry Nigerian. So it just pushes everyone to know that the world needs to know that you can bring value and you have to be hundred at it. So I think that's just what it is for Nigerians in general.
Thank you so much for sharing that. I hope your story will inspire fellow Nigerians as well.
Yeah, I hope so. Yeah.
Do you want to talk a little bit about the software products that you were handling?
Okay, yes, I finished EntryLevel over. I'm sorry. I think September is sure. Yeah, around that. So I had to search out other avenues to actually put my feet in the water. And I got this like a boot camp kind of thing. And they said that what they were going to be doing, this was a Nigerian thing. Now they said they were going to be putting us in teams. So I got this sent out as product managers. We are not really product managers without developers, without an entire team that can actually bring the products to life. So what I told myself was that let me join this, let me see how it works. So they put us together. They trained us for like a month and they did now put us together as a team. So we have about six product managers. I think we have like 40 something team members made up of marketers product writers, product designers, development. We have WordPress, back end, mobile and content and the rest. So everyone actually works together on the product. And our sense of our product is still in development at the moment. We have Mind-Spa. It's like a mental health resource system app. So we're going to be having the web and then the mobile app come out soon. Yeah. Then for work, like for my major work, because I'll call this my mind, but my side hustle, I'll say my major work for the Sageplexx company I work for. We work on multiple products actually. And I met products at various stages of their life cycle. So, for example, we have Metrics. I made Metrics when Metrics was currently like in development and I was able to see Metrics through beta launch. I met quicker when it was at the initiation stage. So we are still initiating on that. I met various products, about six products. So products I had to work on. A friend of mine reached out and was like, oh, let's work on something together. And I mean, we are all product managers here. So I just know that for you to be a product manager, you have to bring products to life and you also have to ensure that they are successful products. So, yeah, that was really what it I think one of the products Lagojamobile (?), they are tech company. They're coming out soon as well. I'm meeting that product initiation stage as well. Addition. So we are currently like working at just various products as the life cycle. I'm so busy every day, it's ridiculous. But yeah, it's interesting as well.
That's awesome. So you worked on some products for work but also worked on a project with your friend that you started by yourselves.
So I was wondering about your experience working on products for work versus something that you made yourself or with a friend. What was the difference there, do you think?
Okay, product for work. And it's not really different because if you have stakeholders, everyone still has put on a professional front. So whether it's like friends, I mean, we are about 40. So who came together to build this? So everyone has to be serious. We product managers. We have to grow. I take growth very seriously. So in as much as I'm busy as to make our time to grow, because I have to keep on track. I don't know, maybe this comes from being a software developer because, I mean, with the software in the software world, what you know now cannot be the same thing as what you should do in the next six months. So you have to keep knowing. So, yeah, that's the same thing. But I don't think there's much difference. It's a more relaxing environment for me that friends are working on, the more relaxed environment than what I meet with work related stakeholders. That can be a hassle sometimes.
Thanks for sharing your insights. So my last question for you today is what advice would you have for other students?
Students of EntryLevel?
Yeah. Yeah. It can be students of EntryLevel or just students in general who want to get to where you're at right now.
Okay. So I think the first thing is don't bind to things that people say, like, in terms of, like, get this done in two weeks. I mean, everything takes time. There are a lot of times that I got rejected, applied for addition, Jira, associate PM program, and I got rejected. So what I did was to look at that at the end of the day, just the rejection they can give me. But the thing is you have to keep applying and you have to resolving yourself. I always have to reserve their confidence. They also have to understand the path they are going to. So at the end of the day, never let anyone take you off your path. Understand your path because you need to understand your path to continue moving on that path. Then also maybe reach out to experienced product managers or experienced people in general. I always say one thing, shame is very relative. I don't have shame when it comes to my growth. I don't mind reaching out to anybody. I will reach out to someone, and if they don't answer me, that's the last. But that's the only thing that can happen. They won't reply. Right. And then I move on to someone else I feel is capable of handling my questions. And half of the time, these people will reply because it's only how you position your questions. Oh, please, I need help here. You don't just make it like, oh, I'm sorry, I just followed you, and I really - nah, you let them know that. Okay. I really appreciate what you're doing. And then you now ask them your questions. They always reply because it's not asking me for something out of the normal. They just ask me for guidance. Right. So I think it's very important to make experience. Before I got my job as a PM I asked the guy, one guy on Twitter that I thought, this guy is really good. He's a Nigerian PM. He works with a lot of international companies. And I reached out to him and I was like, good evening. I really like the work that you're doing. Can you help me out here? How do you think I can break into product management. And he said, if you're already working in tech, please just try to enter through let's see if it's technical writer and then maybe you can transition from there or something. He just gave me some tips and I told him, okay, thank you very much. I'll walk with his feedback and that was like the last time I reached out to him. But he said - when I got my job after working on the feedback, I reached out to him again and I told him, thank you. Your feedback really helps me and he was really excited and I think I will push him to start a program of his own, like trying to get people like trying to now talk to newbie product managers and I kind of felt like I did something there. So that was really nice.
Thank you for sharing that story. I think when people ask for help, they feel like they are ashamed because they don't want to be a burden to other people. But what you just shared shows that you can help them too.
Yeah, exactly. And it's okay to put yourself out there. It's very okay once you ever feel ashamed of that. Remember, Shame is relative. Just pick the times when you want to feel ashamed, but not when you want your growth. Be bold about your growth. So I think that's really what it is.
Yeah, those are very wise words. Thank you so much for sharing.
Thank you so much. Yeah.
So if you'd like to follow Lola on her journey, you can check out the links to her profile which I will link in the description.
Thank you for that.
Yeah, of course. Can people reach out to you if they have questions?
Yeah, obviously they can. They're very free to.
That's awesome. You're such an inspiration. Just me hearing your story right now, I feel like I'm ready to do stuff.
And what you said about sharing your journey, I think I found you through Twitter so I definitely would recommend people to share everything they're learning online as well.
Yeah, definitely. Thank you so much, Jennifer.
Of course. So again, if you'd like to follow Lola on her journey, you can check out the links to her profile in the description and you can also visit entrylevel.net to look at our available programs, including the product management program that Lola took, and again, that's entrylevel.net. So thank you for listening and good luck in your learning.
In this interview, we chat with Lola, a Nigerian Product Manager, about how she got more product management experience.
Check out our blog post on this interview.