NAME: Tanda Kabanda
BSc Computer Science and Multimedia (Queen Mary’s University Of London)
MSc Computer Science and Internet Systems (King’s College London)
JOB TITLE: Associate Software Engineer, ASOS
Describe yourself in 3 words.
Hard-working, Creative, Ambivert
What’s your story?
Born and raised in Colindale, North West London known as a the girl with the rhyming name. It all started when my mum bought a desktop computer and I discovered the joy of Microsoft, AOL dial up and then Piczo (S/O @KEI_MAYE I won ‘Most Organized Site’ and back in the day it truly encouraged me haha)
Studying IT at secondary school wasn’t fun it was more business case studies which included some PowerPoint, HTML and Excel. Nowadays children are learning how to code and they are so lucky. I remember telling my IT teacher at the time I wanted to study Computer Science at university, he looked at me and said ‘you know IT and Computer Science aren’t the same thing right?’ and I was like ‘yeah whatever I can handle it’. My goal growing up was to be Web/UI Developer but I knew that to be one I would first need to gain the fundamental skills of being a Computer Scientist.
I knew studying Computer Science would be hard and it truly was, programming, algorithms, architecture everything was so new to me. I remember failing a programming exam while majority of people passed and I was put into a foundation course and I felt like such a loser but I was determined to pass in the wise words of Samuel Beckett ‘Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.’
I am not a good programmer by any means, I have a lot to learn and it takes me a while to understand everything so I have to work hard but I really enjoy it. The feeling of writing code and then see it become something, is truly amazing.
The tech world is known for its lack of women. What got you into software engineering?
After studying Computer Science, it just seemed like the natural journey to find a career as a Software Engineer. I want to work in technology but I am not specifically sure what I want to do yet so being a software Engineer exposes me to a lot.
It was only recently it became really apparent to me how few women are actually involved in writing coding at tech companies, most women are either BA’s or QA’s who hardly get involved with writing actual code and I hope it changes.
Quite frankly, I did not struggle learning how to code to not use these skills, I wanted a job that involves coding either way.
Girls should not fear code, rather embrace it and make it work for you literally.
What does your job entail on a day to day basis?
As I am a graduate, I rotate teams every three months and it has been about learning as much as possible and contributing to the team when I can. I code in C# in a .NET Framework, C# is a really cool programming language and has been new to me since I studied Java at university.
This is my first ‘proper’ job and I am at an amazing company whom I am thankful for giving me such a DOPE opportunity. I am very excited and interested by everything happening. Whether I am helping to solve issue live on the website or being involved in an overnight deployment to get a feature into live, which literally has been a highlight of my graduate role.
What was your ever first work experience?
Shoe Zone in Harrow year 10, it was terrible and that is all I have to say about that.
I found university way too stressful to also work part-time and I wasn’t able to get a summer internship (which I regret) So as you can imagine, applying for graduate jobs was no fun with no work experience.
After education I really wanted to travel but I also wanted to find a way to gain work experience, so I went onto Google I came across InternChina and got a scholarship to go abroad and intern at an Chinese tech company. It was amazing and probably the most extreme thing to do but it was completely worth it, going to China was an eye-opening. China is on another level they have an intense work ethic and the company I worked for really helped me.
What are you passionate about?
I’m at a stage in my life where I am exploring and discovering where my true passion lie. I am passionate about exploring the boundaries between creative and traditional technologies to solve issues and create dope things for users. Also photography, I love capturing moments with my Nikon.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I really do not know, all I can say is I hope to be DOPE female in tech! I hope to be better at my job and feel more confident with my skills as a developer. I hope to have learned more than I could have ever imagined, be working internationally with cool companies and people.
What’s your proudest moment?
Thus far, it has to be graduating from my MSc. I did not really enjoy my undergrad graduation I mean It was fun but I looked terrible pictures and was not feeling it at all. I made a wish to the universe asking if I could take my graduation photos again (I always believe that whenever you ask the universe for something be prepared for it to happen and for you to work hard). That summer I got an email from the careers office about scholarship opportunities for Master degrees, I applied and I got it.
It was the hardest year of my life, I really don’t remember much of 2015 I spent most of my days in a room with no windows and had many moments where I would break down and cry in the toilets. (S/O to a PHD who literally saw me at my worst and took the time out to encourage me)
So to sum up the universe gave me what I wanted, I graduated and I was truly proud of myself because It is something I thought I could never do. I worked HARDER than I ever thought I could and I love my Msc graduation pictures.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
‘Short term pain; Long term gain’
What message/tips would you like to give to young women with similar aspirations?
Many opportunities are a Google search away. Sign up for EVERY scholarship out there (even though the application forms can be exhausting) and read every email you get from your careers advisors!
Network! Attend all the Women in Tech events that organisations put on. During 2nd year at university, a major banking company was holding a breakfast meetup, the girls who went landed an internship and then graduate roles. Imagine that? All from just taking the initiative to attend a breakfast. (I was so annoyed at myself for not going to that)
Algorithms and Data -Structures is the most complex (and depressing) course you will take while studying Computer Science hang in there it is a blessing in disguise!
Lastly, you can be a DOPE computer nerd, forget the stereotype.