Meet George Ezenna, Product Engineer at Intercom and member of /dev/color.
Location: San Francisco Bay Area
Education: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
A Quote to Live by: “Do one thing each day that scares you.”
Connect with George: on his Linkedin.
Tell us a bit about your early years.
I was born in Nigeria but spent my early years in Houston, Texas. When I was 11, my parents figured I was too american so they sent me to boarding school in Nigeria where I completed the rest of my secondary school education. This was a transformative period for me. Lack of internet (and athletic ability) drove me to reading and discovering my passion for science and engineering. My parents’ mission was accomplished.
How did you get started in software?
What are you focusing most of your time on now?
I’ve been spending a lot of my time playing around with React Native and working my way through my reading list which I hope to complete before the end of the year. I just finished Sheryl Sandberg’s Option B which is the first book I’ve read cover to cover since January. Highly recommend it to anyone who hasn’t read it yet. I am currently reading “Grit” by Angela Duckworth.
What is the most interesting technical challenge you’ve worked on recently?
Recently I was working on a service that runs Google Chrome in AWS Lambda to render the content of web pages. This was a particularly interesting challenge because lambda containers have very limited memory, and disk space. Additionally it’s difficult to debug failures in lambda because a lot of the container’s state is discarded after an execution. After a lot of careful logging and nearly a week of debugging I finally discovered the sporadic errors were due to poor clean up of processes at the end of a function execution. The whole experience taught me the importance of quickly testing hypotheses while debugging and how articulating a problem to a colleague can help you understand it better.
Please state 2–3 of your current career goals? Why are these important to you?
- [Short term] writing a blog post every month. I find writing very daunting and stressful but written communication is a skill I’d really like to improve at. My thoughts and actions have been profoundly affected by how others have expressed themselves in their blog posts. I like to think one day my words can have the same effect on others.
- [Short term] giving a talk at a tech conference. Public speaking is also high on my list for skills to work on (honestly communication in general). Similar to writing there are few things that I hate more than addressing a large number of people but in the spirit of “doing something that scares me” I think a tech conference talk inevitable.
- [Long term] being a technical leader at startup that operates in Africa. Growing up I’ve always had a strong passion for technology and I’ve envisioned using this talent to build products and services that my friends and family can use back home.
Give an example of a recent time you’ve helped a fellow engineer. What lessons can be taken from their situation?
I recently helped a close friend of mine with his feelings of “impostor syndrome” by opening up about my personal struggles with it. I reminded him of a lot of his accomplishments that he’d disregarded and that “impostor syndrome” is something that’s very common amongst under represented minorities in tech and that it’s nothing to be ashamed of. What lessons can be taken from their situation? It’s important to take a step back and celebrate your accomplishments even the small ones. It’s also important to go beyond the technical conversations and occasionally check in on how your coworkers/friends are actually feeling.
In what areas can /dev/color members reach out to you for help?
- Coming into industry and adjusting to work life as a new grad
- Impostor Syndrome
- Interview prep/algorithms
- AWS Lambda
As a member of /dev/color you are also committed to developing yourself. Can you share some areas you are looking to improve?
Along with trying to get more experience with React Native I’m currently working on improving my writing and public speaking through blogging and giving more technical talks. I’m also looking to improve on my time management.
Can you speak about any passions outside of programming?
Outside of programming, I enjoy listening to and learning about old school hip hop and R&B (80s-90s). Additionally I like to spend my time reading non fiction.
Why is being a part of an organization like /dev/color important to you?
I’m a strong believer in the phrase “you can’t be what you can’t see”. The /dev/color network surrounds me with black engineers to look up to learn from who are also easily accessible to assist me in achieving my career goals .
Anything else you’d like to say/express?
I’m currently taking suggestions for blog post ideas and books to add to my reading list. I also really enjoy meeting new people and I always try to make time for coffee chats. Feel free to reach out to me on twitter @georgeezenna or via email email@example.com.
/dev/color is a non-profit organization whose mission is to empower Black software engineers to help one another grow into industry leaders. We create environments where Black software engineers can learn from one another and hold one another accountable for reaching ambitious career goals. To learn more, check out our website and follow our blog & twitter account.