Tell us a bit about yourself and how you ventured into the tech field.

Hello! My name is Abdirahman Ismail and I’ve always been curious about tech. Yes I know curiosity killed the cat, but in my case I began self-learning to code and eventually enrolled in a coding bootcamp in 2021. Within that same year, I landed my first software role as a software engineer at JPMorgan Chase. I’m currently still here as a Software Engineer Associate, focusing on Machine Learning concepts such as NLP (Natural Language Processing) and NLU (Natural Language Understanding).

What do you enjoy most about your role? What challenges do you face in your role/field?
The Software Engineer role allows me to learn and pick up new concepts I wasn’t familiar with before. This includes Cloud Computing concepts and Machine Learning concepts. The main challenge I face is imposter syndrome. This thing won’t go away. I faced it in my coding bootcamp, faced it first year in my role, and still face it now. It’s something that I’ve grown with in tech. For example, not having too many role models that I could relate to made it tough in the beginning, but as I learned, imposter syndrome isn’t cured, it’s curbed. The main way I faced this challenge was by taking the initiative and continuously learning concepts I was unfamiliar with. This helped big time.

What’s one piece of advice you have for the next gen of tech workers/leaders?
My one piece of advice would be that, yes, you’ve made the right decision to break into tech. It might have its ups and downs, especially at the beginning with all-time highs of imposter syndrome, but by constantly learning and believing in yourself it’ll get easier.
Side note, I felt at the beginning that I had to memorize code and if I had to reopen my notes or old code that I was an imposter. I do this till this day, my instructor once told me, “A software developer is someone who knows what to Google when they get stuck.” This has resonated since.

What did you enjoy about your presentation to our students?
Just giving back because I was in the exact same shoes a few years ago. I would hear about success stories, sometimes even question whether the speaker was a genius in disguise, but that wasn’t the case. Also, these students I spoke to where so eager to hear someone with a familiar background and had so many questions. Just glad to help 🙂