Tech Youtube consists of thousands of channels where content creators share everything from “a day in the life as a software engineer” to coding tutorials.
The benefit of these channels is the access they provide to tech career paths. One generation ago, a person’s visibility into a career depended solely on their network. Now you can go online and get a glimpse of what it’s like to work as a software engineer at Google.
Over the last few years, many African software engineers have created Youtube channels to educate the next generation of techies. However, while online representation can help inspire African youth to pursue careers in tech and help the continent meet the growing demand for technical talent, it’s not enough. In addition to Youtube channels that provide reviews of the latest tech or share tips on how to get a job as a remote developer, we also need channels that focus on the person behind the tech enthusiast.
And The Tshegofatso channel is doing just that. The channel centers around Tshegofatso Isaac, a software developer based in Pretoria, South Africa, who works as a React Native Developer. Her channel introduces viewers to a tech professional through tech and non-tech-related content. Because while showing passion for your work can infect others, it only draws in those who have a clear interest in tech and neglects the unaware and unexposed.
Share your journey into tech? What is “The Tshegofatso” Youtube channel?
My tech journey started when I was 14 years old. I had a fashion blog, and I wanted to change its look, which led me to learn HTML and CSS. Two years later, I learned Unity and C# because I wanted to be a game developer. I even built my own game. Around that same time, I began learning to program at school and decided that I wanted to pursue a degree in computer science when I went to university.
After some years of blogging, I stopped and started a YouTube channel. My current channel, The Tshegofatso, is my 3rd one, and on it, I share content about the different experiences I go through, not just about tech-related topics. For example, when I started investing, I made a video sharing how it was going. I also have a scented candles business, so I share my journey as a small business owner.
My goal with my channel is to document my growth so that people can see my journey from when I started to when I “arrive.” Rarely do you see the process the people you admire go through. You only see the final result. I think it would be nice for people to see when I started something, when it wasn’t going so well, and how I overcame the challenges I faced. It’s not always comfortable to share when things don’t work out, but people need to see.
What impact has being a content creator had on your tech journey?
I started sharing tech-related content on my channel about a year ago. It’s expanded my network of people in tech and has allowed me to mentor young talent virtually. I get DM’s from people studying computer science or starting their tech journey, and I have been able to help guide them.
My channel also put me on the radar of two non-profit organizations that teach girls how to code. They came across one of my tech videos and reached out. I spoke to their students about my experience and motivated them to pursue careers in tech.
When I started my channel, my goal was to share my journey. I didn’t know people would find what I shared helpful and that it would open the door to new opportunities, but it’s a nice benefit.
Transitioning from university to working full-time as a developer?
It’s been an exciting transition. I enjoy not having to do assignments and tests. I also enjoy seeing some of what I learned at school applied in real life, Surprisingly, things make more sense now.
Currently, 90% of the work I do is in Reactive Native. I have worked on mobile apps, building chat and location-based apps. Coming in, I had some experience with React Native from my final year group project, which made the transition easier. There was a lot I didn’t know and had to learn, but since I’m a junior developer, my team gives me time to get up to speed. If it’s something new I’m working on, they’ll give me time to go through the documentation and gain some understanding before I get started with the task.
The other benefit to working full-time is that I get a chance to focus on one thing. When I was working on my final year group project where we built a location-based game using React, I had four other assignments to think about and focus on. However, now I can focus on one task at a time.
Advice for students transitioning from university to full-time developers?
Do real-life projects:
While I was in school, I focused on my school work and didn’t do anything outside of that. Looking back, I wish I did more real-life projects because I’m only now seeing everything that I learned being applied. Doing projects will also make studying a bit easier because you retain information more, and it’s easier to understand complex topics when you see how it’s used.
Understand what you’re doing:
My second piece of advice ties in with the first one, but it’s worth noting. Your goal for any assignment you do is to understand, not complete. You may have things to do and be limited on time, but that’s not an excuse for doing assignments for the sake of getting them done. When you take time to understand what you’re doing, you maximize your learning.
Learning doesn’t end:
Graduating from university doesn’t mean you’re done learning. Yes, you’re done studying for tests, but you’re not done learning because tech is constantly evolving, and there is always something new to learn.
Thoughts on tech in South Africa?
First I thought, there were no developers here. Most of the people in tech are in Joburg or Cape Town. Since I went to the University of Pretoria, the only other people I knew were my computer science classmates. Over the last year or so, I learned that we have a huge tech community.
Twitter is where I met most of the tech people in South Africa. Once I found one person, I realized there were so many people here. When I started sharing tech-related content on my channel last year, people started following me on Twitter, and I’ve gotten more connected to the community.
The great thing about the community is that everyone is friendly and willing to help. If I have an issue with something, there’s someone I can DM and say, can you help me because I’m stuck here. But like every community, there is still an opportunity for us to grow and gain more visibility.
Built In Africa. What does that mean to you?
I like the saying Built In Africa because it’s not a common thing, especially in tech. When I hear Built in Africa, it gives me a good feeling that innovation is close to home. It’s something I can relate to, and I want to stand behind it.
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