How to work remotely as a female developer in Nigeria — Q&A with Lynda Chiwetelu
As members of the Nigerian tech community, we’re fortunate to have met some of the world’s most talented individuals in development, digital marketing, and more. But one person in particular stands out among the crowd — Lynda Chiwetelu.
We reached out to her to learn more about her perspective on staying productive as a remote developer, navigating the tech community as a woman, and communicating the value Nigeria adds to the tech community.
Hi Lynda! What do you enjoy most about working remotely?
This is a tough question, because I enjoy quite a lot of things about working remotely. The flexibility, how productive I become, etc. But yes, if I had to rank it in order of most enjoyable, it would be productivity. I love how productive I am working remotely compared to working on-site.
Anything you dislike about remote work?
Almost nothing. The isolation can be hard sometimes, but it’s not so bad for me as I do well with a little isolation. It is also relatively easy to solve.
With so many distractions at home, how do you stay focused?
I stay focused by ensuring that my computer is the only interactive device close to me at any point. Occasionally, I use site blockers and productivity trackers. But this has become rarer as I keep working remotely. I am usually able to focus well enough now whenever I have my computer in front of me. I have to mention that I mostly live alone, so I have even less human distraction than normal.
How important is networking as a remote developer?
Do you have any tips for someone who’s looking to make more connections?
While I didn’t exactly go the networking route, I will definitely state that I think networking is super important.
It doesn’t hurt at all to have connections that can help point you to opportunities, or to give a referral. Great places to network are at tech conferences and meetups. You can also network online with your local and the international dev community.
With social media, it’s a little bit easier to have direct access to literally anybody, so be proactive about visibility and reach out whenever you want to connect — it’s easy to do.
What skill sets have you picked up as a remote developer that you wouldn’t have in a traditional job setting?
My textual communication skills have definitely gotten a boost. Another thing I have picked up while working remotely is the ability to manage my time appropriately. I’ve gotten way better at time management — blocking out times for certain tasks and making sure they get done at that time, and even taking breaks.
What does your dream remote job look like?
How can employers create a better work environment for their off-site team members?
A great remote job is one that has flexibility, transparency, and communication as a huge part of the company culture. Of course, great pay helps, too.
I think one way for employers to create a better work environment for their off-site team members is to continuously communicate clearly, advocate communication, have informal meetings, and hold real life meetups occasionally where you get a chance to connect physically with your colleagues.
One more thing that’d make for a better work environment for off-site team members is proper organization and processes. Because you don’t have the human aspect to guide your daily work, it helps when things follow a certain process that is clear and as foolproof as possible.
In your experience, are there remote jobs for developers in Nigeria, or do you have to look internationally?
Internationally for now, I think. Before my current job, I considered some Nigerian roles but didn’t find any that were completely remote-friendly.
Surely remote Nigerian jobs exist, but there is still a healthy amount of skepticism with fully-remote work in Nigeria (and even many other countries).
But online, you get access to all the places where this isn’t totally the case. So try to find Nigerian remote jobs if you can, but chances of finding one internationally are probably higher.
Why should international employers look to Nigeria to find their development talent?
Nigerians are smart, hardworking, and equally as talented as development talent that can be found anywhere in the world. We adapt, learn quickly, and ship awesome code.
What’s it like being a woman in tech?
Do you feel like it’s an inclusive environment for females?
If not, what can we do to make it better?
I think a lot of work has been done on inclusivity, which pleases me. I personally have had an okay experience being a woman in tech. But, it could be better.
Lots of women still get sexist remarks at a professional work setting everyday that kills their drive a little bit. These remarks are sometimes normalized because the ratio of women to non-women in most workplaces are still largely in favor of non-women.
There’s also a lot of harmful stereotypes present that end up being destructive to women — for example, thinking that women aren’t naturally or typically great at coding (which I have heard, actually). This, for instance, can lead to unfair impatience directed at junior women coders, which will further cause them to believe that maybe, they just suck.
Some of the stereotypes make it so that women have a lot to prove when it comes to their tech skills, which just increases the odds of having fewer women in tech.
Also, there’s harassment. Sadly a lot of women still face sexual harassment at the workplace. This is disappointing.
To make tech a better place for women, we have to dismantle all the silly and harmful stereotypes. In their place, we need to respect women for their craft and approach them the way we’d approach any professional who is great at what they do. Harassment in every form also has to stop.
What are your professional goals for 2018?
In 2018, I plan to brush up my front-end development skills, and add one more back-end development language to my stack. I also plan to get at least one side project out of the planning phase and into the execution stage.
As far as professional goals that relate to work go, my goal is to contribute more value than I currently do to my workplace.