INSPIRING INTERNS

Turing Talent’s New Blog Post Series

Turing Talent’s goal is to develop technical talent in a well-rounded set of skills to perform at their best in industry environments. We do that by combining training designed by industry veterans, mentorship from industry leaders, and a cross-industry peer network. Briefly, we surround our talents with only people who are going to lift them higher.

In the Turing Talent’s inspiring interns blog post series, we recognize new faces in tech and have their inspirational stories in order to encourage all talents. This week, we will host Nachi who is passionate about building innovative products, technology consulting, machine learning, and business technologies. She will be inspiring us by taking us through her exciting journey in tech. Let’s get started!

Hello Nachi and thank you for agreeing to this interview. Let’s start with your background, could you tell me about your background please?

Of course! First of all, it’s a pleasure to be doing an interview with you guys. I’m originally from Zambia. I came to the UK in 2015 and I started off doing a foundation program in science and engineering. And after doing that for about nine months, I started my first year in 2016, studying computer science with software development. Throughout my university I have pretty much been really interested in any sort of activities around campus. That was sort of the way that I got into doing my placement at my university as well. I worked within the computer science department as tech support, which was really fun. Working closely with the university gave me the opportunity to go and attend every woman in tech events, that’s where I met Christina, actually. She mentioned the internship program in the Turing Talent. However, I had already signed up to join Turing Talent even before, I came across it because the university shared it before. Then, I thought “Oh! This is an interesting opportunity.” And that’s how I ended up even kind of getting involved with every woman in tech. Yes, it is my background.

This is a great story. Did you have any previous experience before starting the Turing Talent leadership program?

I did have a few experiences such as internships. I did one internship specifically with a department at my university, which was in the area of development. I became a development intern there for two months. Then, my placement year was about nine months. Moreover, I did a couple of miscellaneous things, like I worked for the university for a couple months as a career coach, as well. When I took part in the program, I was saying to Christina that I felt like I was struggling with getting a graduate job. I felt like with everything I had done already like on my CV and all my experience, I had expected to have landed my graduate role at the beginning of the year. At this point, I was just sort of sharing that with her and she recommended this program where I get the chance to work with a start-up.

Well… What were your expectations from this leadership program?

I was very scared because on the Turing Talent website, the way they described it sounds like something that really intelligent people would only manage to do. I mean, I’m not saying “I’m not intelligent”, but when I read the descriptions, I was like, wow, this is really tough! And I actually applied for the opportunity that I felt was suited to me. But then Christina actually brought my CV forward for a completely different opportunity, which was one of the ones that I initially looked at, and I thought “I can do this”.

Everyone has different traits, and everyone is unique. So are you. “Christina saw this uniqueness in you.”

I guess so. I think it’s beautiful how other people see you vs. the way you see yourself. For me, I didn’t even think about going into that area, but then Christina insisted on that it was a good match. Since I cannot really say no to anything, I said yes to her. However, I was afraid that it was a bit difficult and, of course, it ended up not being like that.

Nice. Now, can we talk about the projects that you built or worked on during your internship?

It was really interesting that the start-up I was working for focused on automatic note-taking. However, they felt like it was really time for them to pivot into something different due to the pandemic. So, I joined at a very interesting point because it was a period where they were exploring other products and looking at different things that they could do. When I joined them, I initially started working a bit of user research for one of their apps which helps with automatic scheduling. But the great thing about the internship was that the founders could sort of what you liked and what you didn’t like, or they didn’t scare you to dive into other directions, which was great. Because I was really concerned about the coding part and I was like “I can’t code! I can’t code well enough!”. However, I was steered into helping them with other products, which is something that they were going to focus on building. Moreover, there were other products that a business provides remote virtual reality events to companies. What they do is they create almost like virtual spaces, team-building stuff, and games as well as activities. Whenever a company is signed on to them, they send them some equipment to be able to use these activities, following that they take them back after an agreed period of time. Basically, that is kind of the business model. And also, when I joined them, I was really helping them with identifying the talent that they needed to make this possible, doing a lot of research on former founders, building their websites, and writing a lot of content for them. It was really a combination of website building, content writing, and level research.

It sounds fun!

Definitely, it was fun! 😊

When it comes to technologies, which technologies did you use Nachi?

Although I’ve never used React before, I started off with React which was with the initial application, the scheduling one. I am not the greatest JavaScript developer. That’s why it became a learning period for me in terms of understanding what react can do and what it’s used for. And also, I used Adobe XD, funny enough that I didn’t think I would dive into Adobe XD, but I still continue using Adobe XD even after the internship. I also tried Unity, a website, and Wix as well.

How did the leadership program contribute to your long-term career goals?

Before I started, I was saying to Christina that I should have been in a “graduate role now”. First of all, both the leadership program and internship gave a really good interim thing to work on. I think it really looks great on my CV that I worked with a Silicon Valley start-up, especially here in the UK. I think in the UK, there’s a completely different idea as to what Silicon Valley start-ups are like. And in a good way, I think it really does boost my CV and it makes me look like I’ve got experience in handling in a start-up environment because start-up environments are known to be really high pressure and they can change dynamically and very quickly, which all of these are really important skills for anyone who’s looking for a job. I think if you’re able to demonstrate that you can react quickly to change, and if that change doesn’t faze you, you’re able to just keep it moving, which shows that you’re resilient. Moreover, you’re able to work in a small team as well, which is a challenge because there’s always more work than there are resources. So, to begin with, that helped me a lot, the name of working with a start-up and learning about product development. Those are so much into it with the UX UI design and learning about users and what they want, there was just so much packed into it. There were enough skills for me to use and demonstrate that I can get into a product management role. And that’s how I was able to essentially talk about my experience in my current role to get my current role, which I currently work as a product manager in the software space within manufacturing. So, it’s very interesting because I would have never thought in my wildest dreams that straight out of university, I would be working as a product manager in software and manufacturing, which is a really good experience. Also, I definitely think that the start-up experience I had that Turing Talent was able to provide for me honestly, even now, really helped me out on so many levels. Because even with just building my own start-up, there are so many things that I’ve learned from the start-up guys because I was able to see how to build a business. I just had a completely different perspective of how it works. Now I’m able to incorporate those things in my everyday project. And I’m doing so much better now in terms of applying for funding and opportunities. To be specific, I was a finalist for Samsung thanks to start-up guys. Having this name on my CV just really makes me look serious.

Excellent! This is a great chance for you!

Yeah, there are so many things I can just pull out and I can recognize that I learnt this from this experience. So, definitely.

I also wonder about the qualities you gained. You have already answered some of them but what qualities did you gain during the leadership program?

One of the things that I learned was learning to accept criticism in the work environment. Sometimes as an employee, you want to talk about the ways that you’re right and you’re probably right. However, this is not actually beneficial to anyone sometimes. Feels like it’s beneficial to you, but it’s not. That’s something I learned in this start-up. And I really am grateful that I learned it at this period in time rather than later on in life. It’s also to do with just focusing on your work and being able to see how you could have done things better, even in a position where you think you’re correct and maybe all the evidence points towards you being right, there is still room for improvement, especially at the beginning of our careers. I also learned that it’s important to ask yourself before you begin something “How much effort do you want to put into something?” because that helps you to not set unrealistic expectations on yourself. When you set unrealistic expectations, the people who are working within a team don’t see this as your unrealistic expectations, seeing this as your normal working style. I think it’s important for you to know the sustainable amount of work you’re going to put in; otherwise, you kind of deceive the people you work with on how much energy you can put in. And when people have a different idea of your average energy, it just puts a lot of pressure on you, which is completely unnecessary.

Exactly! Both of them are really precious information. They are inspirational lessons for all of us, as well.

Yeah definitely, thank you.

You’re welcome. My last question is how the Turing Talent played a role in finding an internship for you and in helping you during the application process.

Christina helped me a lot with sort of building my CV in terms of just things to highlight to begin with, but beyond just things to highlight and how to improve my CV, she really tried. First of all, I’m really privileged that I actually go to work with Christina directly. I was really lucky in that sense. Christina is just the type of person that she’s so committed to. She applies herself so much that she takes every single student that comes into Turing Talent as if it’s like a one-on-one relationship, this is how I felt. It’s such a personalized experience. Christina did her best to present to me all the options I have and gave me all the opportunities. Also, she gave me the idea of creating a website, which was something I was able to pass on to my friends as well. I just remember that everything that you get involved in and every step matters towards the next step. That’s why I really do feel like Turing Talent gave me more than one step. They did a lot of things from the course to the internship opportunity I had with Silicon Valley and also the website advice. Those are three different big things that even one of them could have made a difference, but all three were really big and they really helped me move forward.

It is really amazing to hear that you have gained all these experiences thanks to Turing Talent! Lastly, what do you say to new talents considering joining the leadership program?

I would say definitely be “open minded” especially for international students. I think it goes without saying that us, international students, struggle a lot more than home students while looking for placement or jobs. And I think it’s for a variety of reasons such as different working environments, different cultures, lacking confidence, unconscious bias. In this way, Turing Talent is excellent because it’s an organization that gives you so much information which is useful for confidence building, understanding how the workplace works, and what to expect in a recruitment process even before you start your program. Also, Turing Talent has a really unique opportunity that it provides to be honest to students. International students sometimes feel like they need experience in the UK that they are more confident in bringing out to potential employers, which Turing Talent provides for international students as well.

You are right! Turing Talent offers amazing opportunities for international students.

Exactly. You just never know where the opportunity leads you and Turing Talent really is established for international students. Moreover, it’s very encouraging to see Christina as a founder who had come to the UK as an international student. She hasn’t only built a great organization, but she’s also helping a lot of students as well. Christina is really there for you. Like I said earlier, I feel like I was the only one involved, that’s why I keep on even just addressing her directly.

Thank you Nachi for your truly inspiring journey in tech.

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A disruptive platform with a solution to build & retain top tech teams through our international community of high potential software engineers & data scientist