From Earning 5,000 Naira to $1,500 Monthly…

AJAYI JOEL
6 min readAug 12, 2022

How this 18-year-old got a job by building in public.

Guest Profile

Fictitious Name: John

Gender: Male

Age: 18

Monthly Salary: $1,500

Occupation: Product designer

Summary

Today on Laddr is the story of an 18 years old who dreamt of becoming a software developer but ended up becoming a product designer thanks to his supportive family.

John started as a graphics designer earning 5,000 Naira at 15 and has transitioned from logo designs into other fields like digital marketing before starting product design in 2021. Read the complete story below.

What was your biggest career dream when you were younger?

I wanted to study mechanical engineering in school but it didn’t work out. I didn’t do technical drawing in secondary school and I started further mathematics late. I had to change to computer science but being a programmer has always been my dream.

I love to solve problems so I started Python programming which I paused hoping to continue after secondary school.

Did you go back after secondary school?

I tried Python but it wasn’t working out for me so I stopped.

When I finished my WAEC examination, I started graphics design to keep me busy until I got admission into the university.

How old were you?

I was 15 years old when I started graphics design.

How were you introduced to graphics design?

I started graphic design Immediately after my WAEC. I went to stay with my brother in Lago where I enrolled in a 2-week graphic design Bootcamp.

So you didn’t start with free resources on the internet as many people do…

I didn’t. The Bootcamp was specific to CorelDraw and was well detailed. I had to go to someone else to learn photoshop and other design tools.

Did you pay for your Bootcamp?

Not at all…my brother did. And they supported me because they wanted a tech person in the family. My brothers studied Agriculture and Economics at the University of Lagos, Lagos, Nigeria. Because tech was missing in the family and as the only one doing it, I got full support.

That’s encouraging…

Exactly! My dad and I traveled from Ogun State to Lagos State in 2019 for the Bootcamp. The venue for the Bootcamp was very close to my brother’s place in Unilag. After the Bootcamp, I went back to Ogun State to practice and after a month I started taking gigs.

I would do up to 4 logo designs for people and my brother kept on referring people.

How much were you paid?

I was paid about 5,000 Naira for a logo design and an extra 3,000 Naira if the client requested a flyer.

During this period, I considered teaching as an extra way to make more money while I ran my gigs after school hours. But I couldn’t settle for a 7,500 Naira job.

I wasn’t spending money on anything because my brother provided data for me every week and my parents provided my food.

During the Covid-19 lockdown, my brother asked me to learn social media marketing which I did and after a month I got a remote job. I was paid $50 every week to manage Facebook, create content and make social posts.

How long did you do graphics design before switching to product design?

I spent 2 years on graphics design and I started product design in 2021. My first product design Bootcamp was on the 9th of July, 2021. I love boot camps and even though this was a 2-day Bootcamp, I learned a lot.

Was it easy for you?

It wasn’t but I don’t relent. On my first day at the Bootcamp, I came up with a design for a friend who is into crypto. I sent over the design for critiquing and I was corrected on areas I didn’t design properly. The person who corrected my design was pleased since that was my first project.

How did you end up as a product designer?

I took people’s advice. I had no idea I was going to do product design because my goal was to become a software developer.

On one faithful day, I saw a Telegram design done by a guy on Facebook and tried to replicate it. My design sucked because I used Corel draw and had no idea what UI/UX was. I wanted to know how to do a similar design and through research, I discovered UI/UX.

I purchased a 1,000 Naira course because I need someone to explain UI/UX to me. I went on to create my first portfolio website using Behance without having a design.

What was your first Product design job?

I got my first job in 2021 but the pay was very low. My expected monthly salary was 70,000 naira which is less than what I earned as a digital marketer so it wasn’t a good fit for me.

I didn’t do any free work because my brothers warned me not to and I got some rejections along the way too. My brothers are like my career managers. Lol

Hehe…

Yeah. They encouraged me to go for any better offer I came across so I can gain experience but the job has to be one where I have time to engage in personal development.

How did you get your current job?

I got my current job through a referral because I was building publicly. I get random messages from people on Facebook and this made me realize how building in public is very important. 2 months ago I got 3 solid gigs from people I don’t know on Facebook.

How much is your current salary?

I make $1,500 working with an Agency.

What do you spend your money on?

Just savings and gadgets. Now, I cater for my feeding and data and I have a separate room I’ve set up for myself.

Do you see yourself transitioning into software development which has been your dream?

I’m still thinking about that but I feel like staying with product design. What I’m after now is to work with top companies like Meta, Microsoft, Amazon, and Apple.

I currently work with an agency abroad and that’s good because I get exposed to lots of projects across multiple niches.

Is the current ASUU strike beneficial to you?

I don’t want them to call off the strike because I haven’t tried managing academics and my job together. And thanks to the strike I have been in 100 Level for the past 2 years. Lol.

I don’t want to go back to school but I’m considering changing from full-time to part-time.

Where do you see yourself soon?

Like I said earlier, I want to work with big companies like Amazon and Microsoft as a user interface designer.

What do you want right now but can’t afford?

There’s nothing. Owning a Macbook Pro, a workstation, and an iPhone has been my goal but I have those things now.

What would you like to tell others reading this?

I have a couple of things:

  1. I think people should avoid being on social media all the time and learn to overlook hate comments.
  2. People should learn to build in public because information is power.
  3. Make friends with people having similar skill sets and join communities.
  4. Invest in your knowledge. Buy courses and pay for knowledge.

Who do you admire most in tech?

Wale Abba. He’s a product designer and popular in the tech space.

I am not sure you know him but he designed Interswitch’s Quickteller and several Nigerian banking apps.

What is your one piece of advice to other people reading this?

Honestly, anyone reading this should learn to love what they do.

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