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Making Space & Making a Difference: Why Tech Needs Better Representation

March 25, 2020

3 min read

Written by Chi-Chi Egbo

Juno College’s Manager of Career Services Chi-Chi Egbo shares Bootcamp Alum Kanu Sobti’s inspiring journey into tech:

If you were to ask Kanu Sobti a year ago if she thought her web development career would begin at Canada’s largest financial institution, she would tell you “of course.” That’s who Kanu is—confident, determined, and certain of her future. Like many people, her journey into tech wasn’t easy, but she always knew it was possible. This is a story about a mom of two, wife, former entrepreneur, woman of colour, newcomer, and developer. It is about every reason why representation matters.

Before coming to Juno in January 2019, Kanu had recently immigrated to Canada and was a stay-at-home parent for seven years. Though she cherished these moments with her two children, as an MBA graduate and former entrepreneur (she owned her own education company in India where she taught Business and STEM subjects), Kanu found herself yearning to start her career again. With a lifelong passion for STEM and some self-taught coding skills, web development was the perfect choice. Kanu’s plan was to apply to Juno’s Web Development Bootcamp, and she was hopeful her self-taught coding skills would be enough to receive an acceptance.

Initially, she applied, completed her tech challenge, and was rejected. However, Kanu received great feedback from Juno’s Student Success Team on what she could do better, and was encouraged to reapply once she had improved her skills. Kanu quickly regrouped and enrolled in the Accelerated Web Development course at Juno, to learn some best practices and to better prepare for the Bootcamp. When she completed the course, Kanu applied again.

To her dismay she received another rejection. This time it came with feedback that she should pay more attention to the design of the tech challenge she was tasked with. Though this might have deterred some people, Kanu was determined. She continued to code and focused on applying her skills and paying attention to design details. She applied one more time and finally received the response she knew was waiting for her: she was accepted to Juno’s Summer 2019 Bootcamp Cohort!

“I was still determined and confident that after learning from my missteps, I would surely crack it. I tried once more and was finally successful. Two things that kept me pushing was my determination to learn and the support I got from everyone around me. Plus, the wonderful community at Juno!

I first met Kanu after delivering a Career Services presentation to her class in the early weeks of Bootcamp. Soon after the presentation, Kanu introduced herself to me and told me her story. I was in awe of her. Her determination, passion, and energy were infectious.

Kanu shared her two main concerns with me: she had been a stay-at-home parent for several years, and she did not have professional experience in Canada. I understood these concerns - they are a reality for most newly-landed immigrants and stay-at-home parents who have been out of the workforce for more than a few years. Would companies see value in her experience? Would they question if she could work in a Canadian workplace? I told Kanu not to worry, and that we had this!

Student Stories

About Kanu’s Journey

  • Before Juno

    Entrepreneur

  • After Juno

    Digital Accessibility Analyst

  • Currently

    Digital Accessibility Analyst

    RBC

After successfully completing the Bootcamp, it was time to begin the next step in Kanu’s journey into tech, which was the job search. It’s hard to count the number of great career chats and check-ins Kanu and I had during her job search! She found every opportunity to seek out advice and learn strategies that would get her a full-time job in coding.

When she attended Career Labs, a four-week career and job search prep program students complete after Bootcamp, she asked thoughtful questions and her presence was felt. There were even a few times where Kanu and I walked home together, and I really enjoyed our conversations. We talked about barriers she was facing, the support she was receiving from her family to go after her dreams, and the incredible belief she had in herself.

To me, it was clear: Kanu wanted to be in tech, but more importantly, tech needed someone like Kanu. You’ve heard this before—there’s a diversity and inclusion problem in tech. With her intersecting identities, Kanu is a professional who represents groups that workplaces should create spaces for. Whether you are a woman, person of colour, newcomer, stay-at-home parent, or someone with a non-traditional educational background, many of us relate to Kanu. The representation of these groups (and more!) are crucial for more people to feel seen and understood.

Though we offer a lot of support to job seekers here at Juno, Kanu really took ownership of her job search. She found big success in networking and making connections. Like many new immigrants or professionals returning to the workforce, Kanu had to rebuild her network - and that she did.

“My LinkedIn had just 32 connections, and today, I have more than 500 meaningful connections across various industries, which helped my job search. One piece of advice for all future job applicants is that as long as you’re doing your part in your job search and getting phone calls, be assured that you’re on the right path. It’s just a matter of time when you will be at the right place at the right time, and will get your dream job.

On February 24, 2020 Kanu started her dream job as a Developer at RBC, where she is focusing on digital accessibility. Every day, Kanu is working on improving digital experiences for persons with disabilities. Kanu’s lived experiences as a person who identifies with multiple marginalized groups only makes her a better developer. She has faced barriers and she has felt supported through them, so she wants to make a difference.

“It’s really painful for me to read the stats for women of colour in tech. It's high time where if companies need to be creative, successful, and maintain their competitive edge, then they need to be diverse and inclusive. I think women represent strength, and if we can manage ourselves and our families, then we can easily manage our work, hold leadership positions, manage companies and run them successfully.

I asked Kanu what she is most proud of, and her answer truly emcompasses who she is:

"I am really proud to be a woman, a loving wife, and most importantly a mom. The smile that I see on my kids' faces when I come back home means the world to me. I am really proud that even from a non-coding background and being out of business for such a long time, I performed well throughout the Bootcamp and secured a job in one of the most reputable financial institutions in Canada. I am proud of my grit, my determination, and my never-ending desire to learn and venture into unknown territories and emerge successful.

The entire Juno community and I are really proud of Kanu too. We’re happy that tech finally realized it needs Kanu.

Thinking of starting your own journey into tech?

If you’re inspired by Kanu’s story and want to find out more about making your own career change into Web Development, schedule a free call with one of our Student Success Consultants now.

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