My Tech Journey - Maria Situmbeko
7 min read
Happy New Year, Happy New Year friends! Tupu.io wishes you a healthy and prosperous New Year! May you have the energy and joy to work throughout the year for your goals!
We start the year by talking with Maria, one of Tupu's mentees. Maria has also joined Tupu's dev team to create an app and make the experience on Tupu's platform even more enjoyable and faster.
If this is your first time hearing about Tupu.io(which if you wonder what the name stands for, means "grow" in Hawaiian), it's a non-profit initiative to offer free mentorship to women, people of colour, and LGBTQ+ in tech. We welcome mentors and mentees from all tech areas.
Now, let's find out more about Maria's journey in tech.
What do you currently do for work?
I'm a software developer with four years of experience.
What is your educational background?
After high school, I taught myself some basic code and took a boot camp in 2018. I didn't attend college or university until November of 2022 when I enrolled at the International University of Applied Sciences in Germany.
When and how did you get started being interested in programming/tech industry, and how did you learn?
Which books/online courses/websites were helping you the most on your journey? Resources like W3 Schools, Stack Overflow, and Free Code Camp were crucial in my journey, especially when I was still a beginner. Tech articles from sites like Dev.to also expanded my knowledge.
How has mentorship played a role in your tech career?
Mentorship helped me learn a lot about my approach to finding jobs, as well as maintaining good relationships with my manager, and having healthy attitude to work. I now feel more confident in the steps I take to advance my career.
What do you wish you had known when you started your career in tech? What advice would you give your younger self?
I wish I had been more confident and put myself forward more. I would have avoided a few bad jobs (with terrible pay and treatment) if I was just more confident in myself. I also wish I didn't think that working all the time and doing more than I was expected to at my job would make me a better employee or better at my job. It just made it easier for me to be taken advantage of and made me get burnt out much faster. The advice I would give my younger self, and others starting out, is don't be afraid to speak up and ask for what you deserve, whether that's better pay, better workplace treatment, or time off. I would also advise my younger self to look after herself more. She should take breaks because working all the time isn't good for her. Let her invest in things outside work like personal projects, hobbies, or simple relaxation and self-care.
What would you recommend to someone who is interested in starting with coding/designing/managing, but doesn't know exactly where to start?
It can be challenging to find where to begin since there is so much out there and I don’t think there is one piece of advice that applies to everyone. But one thing I would advise is to be a consistent learner. If you want to get started in coding or designing look for beginner tutorials that show you where to start. Take a beginner course, free or paid, on the field you want to enter. Once you think you have a basic idea of what you want to do and where you want to begin, start to build something because constant tutorials will get you nowhere. It doesn't matter if you think what you create is bad, you're learning and you need to start from somewhere. It also helps to learn and build in public to let others see that you are learning something new. Post your learning progress on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn and use appropriate hashtags for reach. Start to code or design something simple and share. The constant act of building and trying and failing or succeeding will help you get better as you learn more and more. And doing this in public helps put you out there and creates a public resume for anyone to look through. Finally, go easy on yourself. Don't be afraid of not being good enough or not understanding things quick enough. Learning can be a slow process, but you will get better. Just put in the work and believe in yourself.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time? What are you curious about?
In my free time, I love to work on coding personal projects. If there is something I have always wanted to experiment with that has never come up in my work like a programming language or framework, I like to explore and practice it. Outside of code, I use my free time to learn the guitar, binge-watch shows on my watchlist, play video games, or work on my writing. Lately, I'm curious about game development. Making small games, even just for myself, is something I would like to explore with more time.
Why did you decide to sign up as a mentee for Tupu.io**? What has your experience been?**
I decided to sign up as a mentee on Tupu.io because I was feeling stagnant in my career. I did not know where I was headed and needed some advice on how to level up. I had a great experience because I was paired with an amazing mentor who gave me amazing tips on searching for remote jobs, salary negotiation, and maintaining a good manager/employee relationship. Taking the step to seek mentorship was the best step I ever made.