In partnership with Capital One, I sat down with software engineer TJ Famodu to discuss her experience working at Capital One, how she transitioned into tech, and what she hopes to instill in young black women who want to do the same.
While this week's "Millennial on a Mission" does many things, everything ties back to technology in someway. As a self-taught developer and the founder of LearnToCodeWith.Me, she has put together resources for people teaching themselves how to code. As she likes to say, "Get digital skills, be happy." Ladies and gentlemen, meet Laurence Bradford.
Hailing from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, Laurence attended college in Boston at Emmanuel College where she studied history. "Today I am basically doing the opposite as far as disciplines go," she says. Currently, she the Tech Careers Expert for about.com, but also does website strategy consulting. "Essentially, I look at both a site's content (written, images, etc.) and its design/layout," Laurence says. "Because for a great website, both are vital."
CC: What has inspired you to pursue your choice of career? Who are some individuals you admire in and out of your field of work? What challenges have you faced in building your business/brand, and what have you learned from them?
LB: After college, I decided to teach in Thailand. While there, I began keeping a travel blog. My boyfriend Matt built me a personal website as a Valentine's Day gift, which led me to want to make changes on my own to the site layout and design. Whenever I wanted to make a minor change, I had to ask him and it was driving me crazy! So I began teaching myself basic WordPress skills.
Around that same time, (I was still in Thailand at this point.) I kept reading and hearing about the demand for tech workers in the US. It sort of clicked, “Wow I like this. And there’s a demand for people with these skills!” One thing led to another, and here I am today: the founder of Learn to Code With Me and the Tech Careers Expert for About.com!
There are a number of people that I admire professionally, but the first few that come to mind are Neil Patel, Pat Flynn, Marie Forleo and Danielle Laporte. I love her quote, "Launch and learn. Everything is progress." It’s one of the quotes I live by.
Right now I struggle with this: Knowing when to do something yourself, or hire someone to do it. I fail everyday. I start things I can't finish. I can't find answers to problems. I freak out because I spent too much money on ___ and now I worry about paying my credit card statement. But if you're not failing, you're not doing something right. If you succeed at everything you do, you're not challenging yourself enough. So I try to view failures as a learning opportunity. And a way to help others learn from my mistakes.
"Some days it's really freaking hard. But when it comes down to it, I know it's better than the alternative: sitting in a lackluster cubicle, working towards another person's dream. (Translation: working for someone else, and not yourself.)"
To Laurence, being a "Millennial on a Mission" means not taking “no” for an answer, and chasing your dream even when it seems like no one is supporting you. "It took me months to get my site (Learn to Code With Me) to 100 email subscribers," Laurence recalls. "It's easy to let the numbers discourage you. But if you're passionate about what you're doing, it's worth it. Don’t let the little things distract you from your larger goal." When it comes to achieving her dream on a daily basis, it's important to know that you can't be 100% daily.
"You need to recharge the batteries, and resting is really, really important. But... I work a lot. I learn from failure. And I always try to turn it into a positive." Her advice to anyone out there who is afraid or hesitant to live their dream? Think of what our ancestors went through to get us here. "The "risks" we take today are typically so small in comparison to what they went through. Today, everything is accessible, and we are so blessed. We are doing a disservice to all of our grandparents and great grandparents and great great grandparents by not taking risks. The time is now to stop living in our comfort zone and to start following our passions."