Ever wonder how the software that we use to interact with computers is made, the nuts and bolts (code) that are put in place to make it happen. Well in the bid to illuminate your career path, we bring you Lynn Kirabo a Software Engineer at Fenix International sharing some insights about software engineering as well as her journey through school. This is what we asked!
Tell us about Lynn Kirabo?
I am passionate about God, women-inclusion, writing and technology; and I am constantly looking for creative ways in which these four areas can intersect
How was it through School?
School was a journey of discovery and learning, at every stage. Whether it was O-levels, A-levels, Under-Grad and even Graduate School. Every level had it’s own successes and it’s own failures. For instance, I failed my A-Levels, however that was not the end of the world, to join university, I had to do a diploma, but because I had learned from my A-levels experience, I worked hard during my Under-Grad and Grad school seasons
What Keeps you going in Life?
Knowing my passion! You know that innate thing that keeps you up at night, this is what will keep me burning the midnight oil. When things get tough, this is what will keep you going.
Describe your ordinary day at work?
An ordinary day lasts between 9am to about 5pm. As a software team member, the methodology of work that we ascribe to involves daily stand-up meetings where we catch up on what we are working on for about 5 minutes every morning, including biweekly planning sessions. When I am not involved in any meetings I am typically at my desk working on the software features of that particular week.
What are your main tasks and responsibilities at work?
As a software engineer, you get to create! You transform business requirements into a digital solution that then should have a positive impact on the business! An example is, if a customer gives you feedback, how do you then integrate this back into the system. If the business wants to try something new, how do you then make this a reality?
What particular skills do you bring to your workplace?
I have both a Bachelors and Master of Science in IT, i also come with about 10 years of experience practising IT, from working as an intern trunking cables, to working on websites and currently writing software.
What is cool about your job ?
As i have just mentioned, as a software developer you get to create and innovate, but aside from that, the people and the culture at Fenix is something that is absolutely priceless! Getting to wok with a lot of people who are passionate about what they do, but also getting to learn from and interact with them!
What is not cool about your job ?
Believe it or not, I cannot find anything not cool about my job! I absolutely love what I am doing right now.
What Subjects did you choose in High School and how have they influenced your career path?
I did sciences for my A-Levels, PEM/Fre – Physics, Economics, Math and French. Honestly, as i shared previously, i failed my A-Levels, so I don’t believe that they had a direct impact on my career path. However, on a whole, the experience of failure did leave me with a hunger and thirst to do better and to work smarter and harder.
What have been the most rewarding events of your career so far?
These have been a number, but i will cheat and share two:
1. Getting a job at a company that is passionate about technological innovation. And is actually involved and passionate about improving the lives of Ugandans! This i considered a win!
2. Graduating Valedictorian (a student, typically having the highest academic achievements of the class, who delivers the valedictory [a speech expressing farewell, as at a school graduation] at a graduation ceremony) at Carnegie Mellon University, Rwanda! This was one of the most surreal moments in my life!
What is your dream job?
I am actually working at my dream job. As a 5 year old, i asked my dad what a person who worked with computers is called, and today 25 years later, i have had 10 amazing years in the field.
What aspects of your education have proven most important in your job so far?
During undergraduate (Makerere University), we always did our course work in groups and for a number of us, these coursework groups also turned into our discussion groups that helped us prepare for exams as well. Group work also helps a lot in teaching you how to work in a group dynamic which is often the case when you enter the workforce.
For graduate school, i went to Carnegie Mellon University in Kigali, Rwanda – their method and mode of education proved immensely important to prepare me for the market. It was a very practical hands own approach to Education that constantly challenged us to look for solutions to local problems that we resonated with.
Which key people have influenced your career direction?
My parents, they were very instrumental in watering and tending to my dreams as a very young child. Professional influencers include; Solomon King, TMS Ruge, Peter Mukiibi, Ruth Aine, Evelyn Namara, Peter Kakoma, Barbara Birungi Adyeeri; It is a long list of people who have not only encouraged my decisions verbally but also whose career journeys have been an inspiration!
As a student, how did you cope up with the academic challenges and the pressure to excel?
As i stated earlier, i am passionate about God and knowing that he has allowed me this experience to go to a certain school, i often found myself running to him in prayer when the pressure hit.
Yes, sometimes school is overwhelming, especially when you move to an education system that you are not used to. It also helps a lot when you clearly articulate to ‘yourself’ what your passion is – this kept me rooted and firm in my pursuit of excellence.
Also, a professor of mine likes to say, unlike many things, one thing that is for sure is knowing that the school term will come to an end! So wake up and plan to end well as soon as you can! Lastly, having a strong support system, both within school and outside of school helped me keep my life balanced!
What school activities (co-curricular) did you participate in and have proved beneficial along your career path that you can recommend to a student ?
If co-curricular activities is limited to sports then the hidden athlete in me is smiling, because I am extremely inept at anything sports related. However, if the definition is broad, then I’d say blogging has been beneficial. I love to write and read, a place for me to express my dreams and be encouraged by like minded-souls. But also, it opened me up to the vast resource of technology blogs that are out there, that has helped shape some the views and skill that i have.
What trends are you seeing in Information Technology that students should look out for?
One trend that i see taking a storm is about data science, a field that some traditional universities are not yet making programs for. However, technology companies are beginning to realize that this is a field that can give them an edge. I’d say, if you are already doing IT and your program does not have a unit for this, you can ask for it from a professor, or sign up for free online courses and be diligent and complete them. Then lastly, look for internships where you can practice these skills before applying for a full-time position.
What advise would you give someone especially a lady who wants to pursue a career in STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics)?
Ahhh… It is so worth it! Do not give up on your dream, because there is a reason that it was birthed in you in the first place! Be diligent, work smart and hard. Sign up to attend events and network with other girls who have gone before you, events held by WOPA, WITU, DjangoGirls, GirlGeeksKampala are a good place to start!
Any concluding remarks?
School, like any thing else in life is for just a season, be sure to enjoy it and experience it to the fullest. Taking each day as it comes; working hard because we do not get to re-live days in the real world. Remember, you will fail at something and sometimes it is at something that you have worked so hard at, but what is even more important is how you respond to that failure. How you pick yourself up in the aftermath and proceed to plan your life accordingly. In short, do not give up on your dream for your have no idea how close you are!
Source: Student Hub