At EntryLevel, we get the chance to help people from all over the world learn, upskill, and get experience so they can get hired.
Here is one of our students’ stories.
Lola received a product management certificate with EntryLevel last year (August 2020), and within three months, she got experience handling multiple software products.
Lola is currently a product manager at Sageplexx Technologies. She is Nigerian and enjoys reading, writing, researching, and writing code.
In the following blog article, you’ll read all about Lola and her journey. If you prefer listening to the audio interview, check out our show notes here.
What was your learning journey like, Lola?
Well, the learning journey for me was seamless.
We onboarded on Discord. It's quite different from what I was used to because we don't really use Discord in Nigeria.
Then EntryLevel shared us into teams. I got to meet my team members, consisting majorly of Nigerians. I think for most Nigerians, it was easier to relate.
It was nice to know that I was still with my fellow Nigerian brothers and sisters, so that's pretty cool. We studied together as a team, and I think I really loved my team, especially because everyone actually put their best foot forward. We all had study time where everyone came online to study.
It was nice to know that I was still with my fellow Nigerian brothers and sisters.
The EntryLevel modules were spaced out for us, like spaced out in the sense that they would give us deadlines for certain things and so on.
If I was busy at some point, I would just have the deadline in the back of my mind and make sure that I am done my assignments by then. I’d watch all the videos and submit everything before the deadline.
What did you do after EntryLevel?
EntryLevel introduced us to product management and we still have to do our own research. Like, EntryLevel provided us with a guideline and a place to start, and now we have to put to use what we learned.
For example, my capstone project with EntryLevel was on Amazon cars at the time. I had submitted a portfolio, and I cleaned it up to put on my portfolio website in a professional way.
Then, I continued to study product management and UI/UX, because we had to create wireframes as an EntryLevel assignment. So I started learning more about that, and shared what I was learning on Twitter.
I also wrote about my journey through product management on my Medium blog.
You’re doing so much - coding, product management, and UI/UX design. 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 of the stigma that we carry as Nigerians.
So we work hard to show everyone that we can bring value. So I think that's just what it is for Nigerians in general.
We just have to be that hard working.
Can you share your experience with the software products you were handling?
I got more experience after learning the foundations at EntryLevel. I got into this bootcamp kind of thing and got put in a team.
My team had around 40 people - we had marketers, product writers, product designers, front- and back-end developers, mobile developers, content writers, and more. We worked together on a product we started ourselves. So I got this experience.
For my main job (Sageplexx), we work on multiple products. I worked on products at various stages of their life cycle, from initiation to beta launch.
A friend of mine also reached out and asked if I wanted to work on something together. I said yes, and am working to help bring that product to life as well.
I'm so busy every day, it's ridiculous. But it's interesting as well.
What was the difference between product management at work, versus starting your own product?
There isn’t a huge difference because you will always have stakeholders. Everyone is working together towards a serious, common goal - and we are all growing. I take my growth very seriously - even though I’m busy, I make time to grow so I can stay on my track, and stick to my goals.
But when working with friends, I would say it is a more relaxed environment than when I meet with work-related stakeholders.
What advice would you have for other students?
1. Things take time
There are a lot of times when I got rejected.
What I did was to look at that a certain way. At the end of the day, the rejection is all they could give me. But the thing is, you have to just keep trying and be determined. I always have to reserve my confidence.
2. Understand your path
You have to understand the path you want to be on - what goals you have.
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.
3. Reach out to experienced mentors
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 okay - it’s not the worst thing in the world. I move on to someone else I feel is capable of handling my questions.
Half of the time, these people will reply because it's really how you position your questions.
You shouldn’t be vague and unclear like “oh, I'm sorry, I just followed you, and I really need help.”
You should say “I really appreciate what you're doing,” and ask them specific questions they might have advice on. They always reply because it's not asking for something out of the ordinary.
These experienced mentors, product managers, can provide guidance. I think it's very important to listen to their experience.
Reaching out to someone on Twitter - Lola’s experience
For example, before I got my job as a Product Manager (PM), I asked one guy on Twitter that I thought was really great (a Nigerian PM). He works with a lot of international companies.
I reached out to him and I said, “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?”
He said, “if you're already working in tech, you can just try to enter through another role, like a technical writer. Then maybe you can transition from there.” He gave me some tips and I thanked him.
Then - and this is very important - I took his feedback and implemented it with my actions. Advice does not matter if you don’t follow it - if you don’t apply it in your actions.
Advice does not matter if you don’t follow it.
When I got my job after taking his advice, I reached out to him again and I told him, “thank you. Your feedback really helped me.”
He was really excited and I think I pushed him to start a mentorship program.
So when people ask for help, they feel like they are ashamed because they don't want to be a burden to other people. But my story shows that your questions can help these experienced mentors too.
4. Put yourself out there
I's okay to put yourself out there.
It's very okay - you should not 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.
Be bold about your growth.
EntryLevel found me through what I shared on Twitter - so I would definitely recommend you to share everything you’re learning online. You can find a good community and build your personal brand to stand out.
Medium blog: https://omololaodunowo.medium.com/
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