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Mentoring The Future: Ifeoluwa Awi’s Commitment To Young Designers

Ifeoluwa Awi is a Product Designer and a Tech Mentor. In a recent interview, he explained how he established a unique UX resource and Tech mentorship hub in Nigeria to offer free mentorship to up-and-coming designers. He believes that nobody should be hindered from success in their chosen field based on their age, gender, or level of formal education.

Can you tell us a bit about your personal life and your Tech journey?

Certainly! Despite growing up in a place with limited access to technology, I was always curious about gadgets and how they worked, which fuelled my passion for them. I played around with old computers and used the internet to educate myself on the fundamentals of design and coding. When I was in secondary school, I would use my upkeep and feeding allowance to go to browsing centres to use computers and the internet.

It was fascinating to design products that were easy to use and intuitive, and that could improve people’s lives. It was this passion that led me to my first job in technology, and I have never looked back.

My current credentials include a post-graduate degree in information technology and certifications in front-end development, product management, and product design.

Can you describe a typical day in your life as a product designer?

I usually begin my day with a cup of coffee and a review of my schedule. I read through industry news and reply to emails for the first hour. I then jump right into team meetings, where we talk about updates on the project, exchange ideas, and work through any obstacles. The rest of my day is a mix of designing, prototyping, and user testing. I collaborate closely with product managers to get their alignment on the project vision and with developers to make sure the designs are workable. Evenings are frequently used for learning, planning for the following day, and reflecting on the work of the previous day.

Why did you choose Product Design?

I chose product design because it perfectly blends creativity with technical skills. I enjoy taking the user’s perspective into account when solving challenging problems. The process of taking an idea and making it a tangible product that people can use and appreciate is incredibly rewarding. The impact of good design on the user experience is profound, and being able to contribute to that is what drives me. In addition, I think that everyone should be able to use technology and its solutions, and working in the field of product design allows me to create user-friendly experiences that are accessible to all, including those who have various forms of disabilities.

How do you balance your personal life with the demands of your career?

It’s all about setting boundaries and prioritising. I make sure to allocate time for family, friends, learning, and hobbies. 

Scheduling non-work activities like hangouts and gaming helps me recharge and maintain a healthy work-life balance. I also maintain an active lifestyle and practice mindfulness, which helps me feel less stressed and more focused and energized.

How do you stay inspired and keep your creative juices flowing in a high-pressure environment?

A variety of things inspire me, including travel, art, nature, and even simple conversations. I deliberately take the time to move away from the screen and explore new places. In addition, I read design blogs, take part in workshops, and try out new tools and methods as a means of continuing my education. Collaborating with a diverse team also brings fresh perspectives and ideas that fuel creativity.

Are there any unconventional hobbies you have that contribute to your creativity or problem-solving skills?

I do enjoy gazing up at the night sky and watching clouds. I find the intricacies of the universe and nature fascinating. Observing the interconnectedness of everything inspires me to devise innovative solutions that integrate seamlessly into a broader ecosystem.

Why did you get into Product Design mentorship?

Upon reflection of the challenges, I faced in acquiring the necessary skills for the field, I resolved it was my duty to ensure that others would not have to endure the same. 

Mentoring is my way of giving back to the community that helped shape my career. I want to provide prospective designers with the same support that I received from mentors who helped me along the way. While It’s incredibly fulfilling to see mentees grow and succeed, mentoring also keeps me grounded and connected to the evolving trends and challenges in the industry.

Why did you create Xpanshub?

To develop excellence in product design and other facets of technology, Xpanshub was founded to empower the next generation of tech leaders. Because of the difficulties I went through learning tech skills, I founded this non-profit initiative. The tech project Xpanshub has set out on a vibrant journey to foster the genius of the future generation of tech innovators. It’s about creating a space where creativity and efficiency coexist.

What was the inspiration behind your solutions?

The inspiration often comes from observing real-world problems and user behaviours. I believe in human-centred design, where the needs and experiences of users are the primary focus. By understanding the pain points and goals of users, I can create solutions that are not only functional but also intuitive and enjoyable to use. My goal is to make technology accessible and beneficial for everyone.

Do you believe gender should be a factor in pursuing a career in Tech?

Absolutely not! One thing I love about the tech industry is its ever-growing inclusivity and evolution, heralding a safe space for both genders. Creativity, problem-solving, and strategic thinking are not peculiar to any gender, and we can all agree that these abilities are some of the core skills needed to foster a tech career. It doesn’t matter what gender you are, just play to your strengths and build a career around them.

What advice and steps would you give to anyone trying to build a career in Tech?

First, there’s no time like the present! I’ve met people who feel they are too old to pursue a career in tech. I am here to tell you differently, and switching to technology is still possible even if you have a degree in a different field.

Also, remember to stay curious and never stop learning. In the constantly changing tech sector, it’s crucial to keep up with the latest techniques and trends. Build a strong foundation in the basics such as coding, design principles, and user experience understanding.

Seek out mentorship and networking opportunities to learn from others’ experiences and gain valuable insights. Don’t hesitate to take risks and see failure as a learning opportunity. Every setback is a chance to grow and improve.

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