Diana O. Eromosele: Developing Software that Matters for People that Matter

The year was 2016. It was a scary time for journalism. Publications were issuing out layoff after layoff. The infamous “pivot to video” loomed ahead. Diana O. Eromosele was a 26-year-old working at The Root. She had been fairly successful in journalism, having landed a CNN Editorial Fellowship prior to her job at The Root.

At 26, however, dreams are quickly overtaken by a need to survive — and pay rent. It was then that Eromosele decided to make her second career change. She had already taken an unconventional path to journalism. After completing an undergraduate degree in political science from Duke University, she worked full time in communications.

After a change of heart, she began working on a graduate degree in journalism at Georgetown University, which granted her eligibility for a CNN journalism internship. After CNN and The Root, with a couple years of journalism experience under her belt, she began to look for something more stable. She was browsing The New York Times when she noticed publications were laying off some of their best writers and editors.

“If this 20-year veteran is getting laid off because there are no jobs, what does the future look like for me?” she asked herself.

She needed a job that she could pivot into quickly and affordably, that would pay her bills and allow her to use all of her current skills. Software development checked all of those boxes, so she began her journey with a 3-month stint at Dev Bootcamp, a software engineering bootcamp designed for professionals to learn coding and be job-ready at the end of the program. Her class was dominated by people between the ages of 20 and 30, looking to change their careers.

“For me, it was do or die. It wasn’t just a hobby. I knew I wanted to transition. I knew I wanted a higher-paying career that was a bit more stable,” she said.

A few of her colleagues had already begun the transition and urged her to come along. She is now a full stack software developer at Newsela, an instructional content platform that allows users to read content at different levels. With the click of a button, educators can read an article at a second-grade reading level with their students.

Eromosele loves what she does now. “The beauty of software engineering is that whatever field you come from, every industry requires tech, requires applications they can use to make their processes faster or offer better services.”

One of the most common misconceptions, she said, is that you have to be a nerdy white male who plays video games in your mom’s basement to be a software developer, or that she sits at a computer all day staring at ones and zeroes.

While it is a white male-dominated field and being an African-American woman places her into an underrepresented group in web development, she has been able to use it to her benefit. Dev Bootcamp granted her a scholarship to attend because of her minority status.

Eromosele is dedicated to changing stereotypes and creating a space for diverse mindsets. Google’s annual diversity report reveals that about 53 percent of its workforce composition is white, with the closest minority group being Asian people at about 36 percent. Black people comprise merely 2.5 percent of its workforce and Latinx people comprise 3.6 percent.

Eromosele basks in her differences. “I’m an urban chick from New York City. I come from a liberal arts background and I love to code. I like to build things. I don’t think like anyone else,” she said. “I’m going to build things that have a social justice component.” Because of the lack of diversity, she receives emails and calls from companies heavily recruiting people like her.

She has leveraged those differences to create a tool called Categorized Tweets. It is a Rails app, running Ruby on the back end and JavaScript on the front end. The tool separates the tweets of politicians on local and national levels into nine categories, based on issues. She got the idea as a project during her bootcamp, after wanting to create a tool that would allow the average person to have an idea of what is going on in politics.

Tweets were an easy pick to build the tool around because of their brevity and the simple language that politicians have to use on the application. Combining her interest in civics and her liberal arts and journalism backgrounds, she was able to create a tool for people like herself.

Though she received pushback when she initially presented the idea, she continued with it and built the back end the next day. Upon its launch, it was so successful that she decided to launch it as its own entity. Most recently, she added a category of tweets for the polarizing Kavanaugh proceedings after seeing how active everyone was on Twitter, voicing their opinions on the matter.

She wants to continue building useful tools like Categorized Tweets and encouraging not only minority groups, but everyone to learn software development. “The tide is turning,” she said. She predicts that coding will become one of the core subjects taught in schools. She urges minorities to start building things that interest us and learning from people who look like us. With the future looming, it is imperative to have a stake in our narrative and create tools that are reflective of our entire society’s needs.

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