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Biochemistry to Software Developer

Name : Aishat Yusuff (She/Her)

Job Title: Trainee Software Developer

A levels/ equivalent : I schooled in Nigeria so the A Levels equivalent is the West African Examination Council(WAEC) Exam and I got: English -B3, Maths - B2, Chemisty - B3, Physics - B3, Biology - B3

Undergrad and Post grad degrees

  • Bsc Biochemistry

  • Msc Clinical Biochemistry

Favourite science fact: I find it interesting that visible features like the ear and face shapes can be used as paternity cues in sons.

Journey in 3 Words : Interesting, challenging and surprising

Briefly describe your current role:

My background is quite different from my career field now. My role as a trainee software developer involves me learning new things about software development/engineering while on the job. It involves a lot of studying and hands-on practice, which isn’t unusual for the field because technology is always evolving.

What motivated you to pursue a career in science?

I first fell in love with science when I saw some medical students in white lab coat. It sounds quite funny but it was a driving force for me. However, I decided to career-switch because I wanted to try my hands on something new. The ultimate career goal for me now would be combining my Biochemistry knowledge with my newly acquired software development knowledge, to advance health tech!

What is a typical day like for you and which skills do you enjoy using the most and which ones have you needed to learn and work on to suit the role?

A typical day for me includes a few catch up meetings with my colleagues to update them on what I’m currently working on/learning. As I work from home, this ensures that I’m not isolated, as I also get to ask lots of questions. As my role involves a lot of learning, I’d be creating simple practice software projects, while solving problems and reading about different software development concepts.

Problem solving, oral communication and research skills are my most used skills on a typical day. As I’ve recently started working on a project with my colleagues, I wager that I’d be using a lot of team working skills in the months to come. As a career switcher, all of the above mentioned skills came quite easy for me because I’ve groomed them in my academic life, however, I’ve had to tailor my problem solving skills to suit the software development field. It was quite difficult at first but constant practice and asking for help when I need it has made it easier for me.

How did you decide on your Msc? and do you feel you made the right decision for your career?

I wanted to explore the clinical aspect of Biochemistry as my undergrad was quite generic. That’s why I decided on my MSc course. I’d also say yes, I made the right decision for me at the time. The MSc journey didn’t just teach me about clinical Biochemistry, I learnt a lot more as a person; about my own personal health; about writing even about my professional skills.

What advice would you give anyone wanting to follow your career path?

I’d say do not be afraid to make a career switch if, like me, all you’ve known is a different field. I know that technology is the latest hype but don’t like that stop you. Take a leap and try it out— and this doesn’t just apply to technology by the way. Remember that you’ll only live this life, once.

You decided to make a big career switch, what resources or thought process led you to this path after your life science based degree?

Initially, I’d wanted to try something new because I wasn’t getting a favourable response on my job application process — after my MSc. I needed the confidence boost and I’d figured that trying out something I used to think I’d suck at, might help. Coding wasn’t a thing I thought I’d find interesting, so when I started learning (and enjoyed it), I realised that I could make this a career. The code first girls initiative provided me with lots of free resources to facilitate this journey.

"Rejection can be very debilitating and we’ve ALL experienced it, so please know that you’re not alone in how you feel."

What advice would you give on dealing with rejection and perseverance?

Rejection can be very debilitating and we’ve ALL experienced it, so please know that you’re not alone in how you feel. What I’d say though is that like me, you can try your hands on new things ( that may provide another source of achievement and will remind you that you’re worth it!). This doesn’t mean that like me, you should make a career change, but I find that when you do things that remind you that you can achieve anything, you can channel that renewed confidence to combat that sense of rejection ( and strengthen your perseverance).

Would you have originally picked this career path instead of doing a masters if more information was available to you at the time?

I believe so, yes. I don’t regret doing my MSc in clinical Biochemistry, because as I’ve mentioned earlier, I learnt a lot from the process. But I believe if I’d found the desire to “try something new” earlier, or I’d come across a brilliant initiative like Code First Girls earlier, I might have opted for a conversion masters in Computer engineering or software development.

What advice would you give your younger self ?

Enjoy your learning phase. Let go of all that worrying about what your future would look like and actually enjoy every learning moment of your present. You’d look back on them and see how those moments contributed to who you are today.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years ?

I see myself still holding firmly to the above advice. I also see myself being a formidable presence in my current field and helping other career switchers like me overcome their imposter syndrome (and be the best versions of themselves).

Outside science how would you describe yourself?

Outside of science and technology, I enjoy listening to and taking care of myself. I do this by immersing myself in my love for books, writing, kdramas and sleeping 😄.


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