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Lilian Umeakunne – Meet the Mentor

Hello, my name is Lilian, and I currently work as a Software Engineer at a prominent global company. While my educational background initially focused on Agriculture and Food Security, with a bachelor's in Agriculture and a master's in Food Security, I made a transition into the field of software engineering a few years ago as a self-taught programmer and have since had a rewarding experience.
Lilian Umeakunne

Software Engineer, Accenture

Why did you decide to become a mentor?

I became a mentor driven by a deep-rooted desire to support individuals in their career transition into the tech industry. This passion stems from my own journey and the challenges I faced when starting out. Having experienced the hurdles of entering the tech field without a traditional background, I understand the struggles and obstacles that aspiring professionals encounter.

Before joining MentorCruise, I had already actively engaged in mentoring activities, particularly with young girls. This experience has been invaluable in shaping my leadership abilities and honing key skills, such as active listening and providing effective support. Through mentoring, I have learned to empathize with the unique concerns and aspirations of individuals navigating their way into the tech industry.

Being a mentor has not only allowed me to share my knowledge and experiences but has also presented opportunities for personal growth. The act of actively listening to mentees' concerns and providing guidance has enhanced my ability to support and uplift my colleagues in the workplace. It has strengthened my leadership skills, enabling me to foster a collaborative and inclusive environment.

By becoming a mentor, I have discovered the power of empowering others and helping them overcome challenges. Witnessing the progress and success of my mentees brings me immense joy and fulfillment. It is a mutually beneficial relationship, as I continue to learn from their unique perspectives and experiences.

Ultimately, my decision to become a mentor is rooted in my genuine dedication to fostering growth, empowering individuals, and making a positive impact on their journeys into the tech industry.

How did you get your career start?

Transitioning into the tech industry as a self-taught developer from a non-technical background has been a transformative experience that exposed me to numerous obstacles. One of the significant challenges I faced was securing that crucial first role without prior work experience or a relevant degree. Determined to overcome these barriers, I took a proactive approach and actively sought out opportunities to connect with professionals in the industry.

It was during this pursuit that I discovered the power of tech networking events, which became a pivotal moment in my career journey. Attending these events allowed me to immerse myself in the tech community, learn from experts, and make meaningful connections. It was at one such event that I had the incredible fortune of meeting my very first mentor.

My mentor played an instrumental role in guiding me through the complexities of the tech industry. She provided invaluable advice, shared her knowledge, and offered insights that proved vital in navigating past the hurdles I encountered. With her support, I gained the confidence and knowledge necessary to showcase my skills and secure my first position as a Software Engineer.

The experience of landing my first role in tech has been nothing short of rewarding. It has highlighted the profound impact that small changes can have on achieving our goals. By actively seeking out mentorship and networking opportunities, I was able to overcome the challenges I faced and embark on a fulfilling career in the tech industry.

This journey has taught me the importance of perseverance, adaptability, and the willingness to step outside my comfort zone. It has reinforced my belief that individuals from diverse backgrounds can find success and make meaningful contributions to the tech industry with the proper guidance and determination.

Overall, my career start in the tech industry as a self-taught developer has been a transformative and empowering experience. It has shown me the value of seeking mentorship, leveraging networking events, and embracing opportunities for growth. I am grateful for the guidance I received and excited to continue my journey of learning, contributing, and making a lasting impact in the field of technology.

What do mentees usually come to you for?

The mentees who seek my guidance are individuals who have embarked on their own transition journey into the tech industry. Whether they are self-taught learners or BootCamp students, they often encounter various challenges along their path to success. As a mentor, I play a crucial role in providing tailored support to help them overcome these obstacles and achieve their goals.

One of the primary areas where mentees often seek my assistance is in identifying the most suitable resources that align with their specific aspirations. With the vast array of learning materials and tools available in the tech industry, it can be overwhelming for mentees to navigate through them. By understanding their unique goals and needs, I can guide them towards the most relevant and beneficial resources. This might include online tutorials, coding exercises, educational platforms, or recommended reading materials.

Portfolio development is another area where mentees often seek my guidance. An impressive portfolio is vital for showcasing their skills and accomplishments to potential employers. I work closely with mentees to help them curate their portfolio, provide project feedback, suggest improvements, and ensure they present their work in the best possible light. This process involves reviewing code samples, offering insights on project selection, and highlighting their unique strengths.

Additionally, I provide guidance on effective networking strategies. Building a professional network is crucial for accessing opportunities, gaining insights from industry professionals, and expanding career prospects. Mentees often come to me seeking advice on how to effectively network, whether it's attending industry events, leveraging social media platforms, or engaging in online communities. I share my own experiences and provide practical tips to help mentees develop meaningful connections within the tech industry.

Throughout our mentoring relationship, I offer continuous support and guidance, addressing any other concerns or challenges that mentees may face along their journey. I provide encouragement, share insights from my own experiences, and offer a listening ear when they need to discuss their progress or seek advice.

Overall, as a mentor, my role is to empower and equip mentees with the necessary tools and knowledge to navigate the complexities of the tech industry. By identifying their specific needs, providing tailored support, and addressing their concerns, I strive to guide them towards a successful transition into the tech field.

What's been your favourite mentorship success story so far?

Working with my mentee, Dan, on MentorCruise has been an incredibly fulfilling experience due to his unwavering dedication and positive attitude towards his work. Despite coming from a vastly different field in directional drilling, with almost a decade of experience, Dan approached me with a clear objective to transition into the tech industry. I take great pride in our collaborative efforts, as we worked harmoniously to accomplish his goal, culminating in his recent acceptance of a tech role.

What are you getting out of being a mentor?

Mentoring people has been an immensely gratifying experience that has profoundly influenced my personal growth. Through years of mentoring, I have honed my ability to empathize, actively listen, and collaborate effectively as part of a team. This rewarding journey has boosted my self-confidence and significantly enhanced my leadership skills, which I can readily apply to both my professional and personal life, enriching my overall growth and development.

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