s a kid, I was fascinated by art and technology. When it was time to go to those classes, I literally ran to the classroom. The schools in my neighborhood offered classes like "computers" where you would play educational games or "art" where you would paint; however, I didn't realize how both could play together until my father purchased my first gaming system: The Nintendo 64. I would play games like Mortal Combat, Tomb Raider, PacMan, Mario Kart and Zelda just to name a few. I would draw the characters over and over as if it was a ritual. As I grew older, my technology upgraded. At the age of 9, my Mom purchased my first computer! As a teenager, I would spend hours on my Hewlett Packard building Myspace page templates, Neopet shopping pages, and writing scripts for objects in the online virtual game Second Life.
"AT THE AGE OF 9, MY MOM PURCHASED MY FIRST COMPUTER! "
My mom noticed my passion for technology but she couldn't afford the tuition at the tech-focused private schools. There were a few public schools offering programming courses but they were miles away from my Miami Gardens home. I attended Miami Norland Senior Highschool and the closest thing we had to programming courses was a Web Design class that taught HTML and CSS. I vowed that I would give tech my all when I went to college. My dream was to become a Video Game Developer and there was nothing that could stop me. It sound great in the moment but I didn't realize how hard it would be. In 2012, I came to the hard conclusion that college wouldn't be the path to help me pursue my true passion so I graduated from University of Florida with a Bachelor's Degree in Family, Youth and Community Sciences. Even though I felt pure defeat, this degree helped me learn about the beauty in human behavior, psychology, community building, and human triggers. Hindsight is definitely 20/20. When I thought I was settling for a degree, it was actually the best degree I could've gotten. It taught me exactly what I needed to pursue a tech career.
"INSTEAD OF CRYING ABOUT THINGS I CAN'T CHANGE, I'M DECIDING TO BECOME A LIFELONG LEARNER. "
I've been trying all these things to get into tech and I'm hitting road block after road block. With defeat written on my face once again, I wrote on my vision board: "Instead of crying about things I can't change, I'm deciding to become a lifelong learner." I focused on using websites like Code School, Treehouse, Codecademy, Udemy, and Youtube to learn as much as I can about web development, UI design, and UX design. I called this process "Bootcamp Nora". I learned in my way using rap lyrics, art and pure creativity. I attended meetups, cultivated relationships and focused on my network. I took my learning into my own hands and created fun projects to work on for learning purposes. In 2015, I finally landed my first job as a User Experience Designer.
Landing my first job may sound like magic but I call it pitbull tenacity. My very first tech interview was BRUTAL! I felt so small afterwards. I realized quickly that I must have THICK skin to survive in this industry. I went back to my vision board to write out a plan. My plan was to never ask for a job again. Sounds weird, right? I know but keep reading. I decided to focus only on building relationships.
Back in college, I learned about the rule of 7. It was a marketing tactic back in the 1930s where you had to advertise a message atleast 7 times before a customer would take action to buy your product or service. I decided to attend meetups and speak to the same person 7 times. I used the app Meetup.com and I wrote notes on each guest attending the meetup. I'll create a mini profile of them by gathering information from their social media accounts and their website. When I saw them later that day at the meetup, I'll look over my notes, approached them and have an amazing conversation based on the things I learned prior. Those conversations were awesome because I picked out the areas I found interesting. For example, there was a VP of Engineering who ate Chinese food in different cities as a hobby. That was the most interesting conversation I've had at a meetup!
Upon approaching them, I'll say "Hello, my name is Lenora...". After we finish our conversation, I'll say my name again. Using my pre-written email system, I'll send a quick email with the subject as "Hello, it's Lenora. I had such a pleasure speaking with you.." I'll follow them on all social media platform so that their phone notifications could tell them my name again. Before you know it, I've introduced myself 7 times.
I used this tactic on a company I loved called SATO Global Solutions and it worked! I received an email back! At this moment, I'm freaking out because I didn't plan for it to actually work! I decided to ask for a tour of the headquarters instead of a job interview. During the tour, we walked over to the UX Design area and I couldn't leave. Even though I attending a coding bootcamp to become a Full Stack Software Developer, I thought User Experience Design covered all of my passions. I wasn't afraid of showing pure excitement during this Ah Ha moment! The VP of the company noticed and let me know they are not hiring for design; however, it wouldn't hurt if I come in the next day for a formal interview. I didn't know whether to scream from pure excitement or cry because I finally found where I belong.
I came in the next morning for my formal interview, landed the position, and finally, I have a career in technology.