We spoke with Jola Bolaji, Product Manager at Tic Toc Games, about her career journey in tech.
I got into technology by spending my teenage years on myspace and Facebook. I chose Computer Science as my major because I figured “it was the same thing” (spoiler alert: it’s not). But I was able to find a niche that interested me and studied Human-Computer Interaction. It was my specialization for my B.S. from the University of California Irvine Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences, as well as my M.S. from the University of Michigan School of information.
This leads to my biggest personal achievement - paying off all of my student loans from both degrees - five years earlier than estimated! And my biggest career achievement comes from my current workplace, Tic Toc Games, an independent game development studio where I am a Product Manager. I have had the opportunity to work on two branded games (The Smurfs and Funko Pop!), launching them worldwide, maintaining Live Operations, and hitting Key Performance Indicator goals with thousands of players for over 36 months.
My two pieces of advice to my younger self would be: “Say no” and “Do it anyway”. They sound like opposites, but they are not. I did a lot in grad school and even more in undergrad. Whether it was for a class, my job, my friends. I hit major burnout after undergrad and took a gap year before grad school. Then I hit burnout again after going way too hard trying to “prove” myself at my first job after grad school. It is more than okay - sometimes necessary and more beneficial for everyone - to say no. Learn your limits. Respect them. And also - do it anyway.
The job lists ten qualifications and you have nine? Apply anyway. Everyone else invited to be on the panel has ten years of industry experience - speak anyway. Know the worth of your time, effort, skills, and experiences. Respect them.