Tell us about yourself
I am a first-generation Gambian-Ghanian American. I am the CTO of Mechanicode, a consulting firm. I also co-founded the Black Code Collective and I am DC’s Technical.ly 2019 RealLIST Engineer award recipient.
As an AWS Certified DevOps specialist with ten years of experience, I develop automation solutions using DevOps & Site reliability best practices for clients. I have a passion for automation and improving the feedback loop in the developer experience.
I have worked in both the public and private sectors, providing modernization services that engage Agile best practices, scalable cloud architectures, and continuous integration & deployment standards.
How did you first get started in your career in tech?
It started with an excessive love for video games 😂. I grew up in Bahrain where I spent too much time finding ways around game region locks and securing ROMS from resellers, which led to a major in Computer Science @ the University of Maryland.
Though I expect like a lot of gamers, I realized very quickly C.S !== video games. After many sleepless nights navigating the 300/400 level courses, I got my first job consulting at Booz Allen Hamilton through a career fair on campus.
What are the most important skills in your current position? How did you develop these skills?
I gained much of my skill set via trial & error. As a software developer, I found myself blocked frequently by the infrastructure team waiting for new resources or deploying my code. So I would sit in on those team sprints, and offer to learn and help to build my skill set while also unblocking myself. My formal education came from studying for AWS certifications of which I have 5 at the moment.
What are some resources that helped you in your journey in tech?
Youtube, stack overflow, Udemy and Reddit have all been great sources of individual learning. Though I cannot disregard the wealth of knowledge gained via meetup groups in the active DC tech scene. For example, I co-founded the Black Code Collective in 2016, and we host monthly tech talks over a range of topics.
What are some difficulties you faced in your career? How did you overcome them?
I would probably say initially understanding my worth as an engineer. The first 4 years of my career I would say I was underpaid because I wasn’t aware of the average salaries for engineers of my skill set. So I started sharing my salary with friends I had been in school with and was shocked at the gap between us over the years.
So I did my own market research via interviewing with other companies, and discussing with IT recruiters which skills were in high demand, and focused on levelling myself up so I can be more marketable in the employment space. In 2021, I would say the hot skills are DevOps, Python, Golang, React & Data Science.
Looking back on your career, what advice do you wish someone had given you that would have helped accelerate your career?
I would advise new engineers to job hop initially, or begin your career at companies that allow the freedom to hop from project to project as consulting firms do. The reason for this is no one place can provide you with access to all the languages, paradigms, tools, and frameworks to turn yourself into a well-rounded engineer.
By diving into different tech environments, you can challenge yourself to solve different problems and eventually find a path in engineering that you enjoy and master it. I began doing technical writing, to software development on the front/backend, to engineer manager, to infrastructure engineer, to ML pipeline engineer.
I realized along the way that I enjoyed cloud engineering on the infrastructure side of the house, and begin to put more of my attention refining my skill set there. Though when push comes to shove I can still leverage my previous experience to be effective in a wider range of roles.
Is there something you must share with our readers?
Please join Black Code Collective!
Join me and the band of enterprising engineers at USDS.
Thank you for sharing your story with us. We really appreciate it. How can we support you?
I just released my course, Asynchronous Python for beginners. Folks interested in python should checked it out!