Women Who Reign: Omayeli Arenyeka

ReigningIt 👑
Oct 16, 2015 · 5 min read
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It’s Friday Reigners! We wanted to highlight Omayeli (or Yelli as she calls herself) because she is driven but humble. Read on below to see what motivates her, how she keeps organized in our multitasking world, and the wonderful advice she has for other women.

Tell us a little about yourself along with a fun fact.

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I’m a junior at New York University studying Computer Science and Design. I’m originally from Lagos, Nigeria. I moved to New York about 2 1/2 years ago to go to NYU. At NYU I’m on the executive board at Tech@NYU — we have events around design, tech and entrepreneurship and try and encourage students in NYC to build great things. Fun fact: I trip over something at least once a day and my time is always set an hour forward so I can try to be at events on time (it only works sometimes).

What # would define your life journey?
Hashtag: #StrivingButNotReally. I say that because I think I’m really lucky. While I am studying and crying over my code and technical interviews and legitimately working my hardest, I’m a nerd. So I get excited about writing code and being able to bring ideas to life. While not all the time, some of the time, I like what I get to spend my time doing and making. For example, companies like side projects? Well I was going to make something anyway so it works out.

Also in regards to my personality, I’m pretty chill and try to not let things bother me. Years of unfounded anxiety (that I still deal with) and my faith have given me a healthier perspective on life and choosing what I want to spend my time and energy thinking or worrying about. So even though I’m working hard, I’m also working hard and making decisions that keep my mental health intact.

Favorite website / app:
It would be between Slack and Wunderlist but right now I’m in about 10 slack channels and 7 groups so it’s wearing me out. I love Wunderlist though. I knew early on that I was going to be taking on a lot more on than usual this semester so I was looking for something to help get my life together and Wunderlist helps me do that. I live for the sound it makes when I cross off a task. Right now I’m one of those people that adds a task that they’ve already done to their to-do list just so they can take it off haha.

Someone who inspires you and knowledge they have imparted:
I would say Marco Rogers and the CEO of Slack Stewart Butterfield. I recently started following them on twitter and their tweets always give me perspective. There’s a tendency in the tech industry to believe that ALL of us are doing God’s work — that we’re changing the world. You can go for an interview at a company that brings cats to your doorstep for a fee and it’s like they’ll want you to believe this company is magic and is changing the world when it’s really not. I love listening to both of them because while they are in tech and are successful, they are not under the delusion that tech and the code is the most important thing in the world. They are aware of the state of the world we live in and work to change that. This summer I got really stressed out about all the things I needed to do — study for technical interviews, build side projects, do interviews that I was annoyed for the 3 weeks I had in Nigeria to be with my family. With all the things we have to do to be successful in this industry it’s hard to not be consumed and live in a tech bubble.

Song that makes you want to dance:
Yoga by Janelle Monae.

Ideal Job:

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I would love to work as a Creative Technologist/Developer for either an agency like Rehab Studio, the Barbarian Group, the Google Creative Lab (or Control Group where I worked over the summer) or a firm like Frog Design. Traditional tech companies don’t really excite me except I’m really interested and invested in the product (so I really like Slack and Splashthat). The reason is more so in agencies, creative innovation and ideation is at the centerpoint. While you do have to ship things, there is room for more experimentation and prototyping than at a traditional tech company.

What knowledge would you impart to women in order for them to REIGN in their lives:
Especially in the technology industry, everything is so competitive and it’s difficult to not get jealous or envious of other women and to put yourself down. At some point when I was talking to a fellow woman in tech and she was telling me about the companies that reached out to her I started getting down on myself. The silly thing is that it was for a position I wasn’t even remotely interested in. Jealousy, envy, anxiety or low confidence is very often baseless. I didn’t even want the job and I became sad that she was getting it instead of me. It made no sense. It’s important to give credit to ourselves and look at how much we’ve grown. A friend of mine and I were talking about how earlier this year we didn’t even know what git was and now we are committing daily. There is always room to grow but it’s also important to understand that we are different and we just need to keep working hard and our time will come. We’re doing better than we realize. Bringing others down and comparing ourselves to them won’t get us anywhere.

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