My name is Adeola Olubamiji. I was once a pepper seller on the streets of Ibadan. I did my PhD in University of Saskatchewan, Canada.
DANG: How far have you come from when you had the PhD as the first black person in that university till now?
Dr Adeola Olubamiji: It has been quite a journey. 4 months to the end of my program, my professor approached me and said “Ade, I hope you get to finish your PhD by the end of August because your stipends then”
I was so scared when he told me that, I had quit my job before I began my PhD, I had no one funding me from home and I wasn’t even sure I could get a job and complete my thesis within the period of 4 months.
Eventually, I made up my mind I could do it; get a job and finish my thesis. I spoke with some of my mentors about my ordeal and they were quite pessimistic about me getting a job. I was told not having a Canadian work experience will limit my chances, I was told not to add my PhD to my resume because it will make me overqualified for the job and a host of other things.
I wasn’t going to allow the negativity get to me, so, I went back to my planning board to restrategize. I sent out about 3000 applications; it did not matter to me whether they were recruiting or not. I grouped it,
I focused on different industries manufacturing, aerospace, oil and gas, biomedical and designed different resumes for them.
Also, I focused on my thesis and made sure I perfected it. I had about four publications ready before August. A month after sending out 3000 applications, I got a call from one of the companies I had applied to. They are an Aerospace manufacturing company. When they called they said “we are not looking for anybody but we find your resume is intriguing, would you like to be interviewed?
I said Yes and I went for the first interview, they were impressed and they commended me for having skill sets enough for 2-3 people but they weren’t looking for anyone. However, they will put in on the dial in case an opportunity comes up.
Two days after I got a call from them, their CEO wanted me to come for a second interview. I went for it, he was impressed but said: “we are still not looking for anyone right now but we will keep you in mind maybe in 2-3 months from now we might need someone.”
DANG: At this time, were you still doing your PhD or you had finished?
Dr Adeola Olubamiji: Yes, I was doing it. The second interview was done around the end of July. Few days after, they called to give me an offer. They created a position for me as the Lead Engineer.
It was a double promotion before I even began to work. The Lead Engineer is the head of both junior and senior engineer. A position that would have taken me at least 8 years of experience. I informed my professor about the job and he was eager to assist me. I submitted my thesis to the college of graduate studies by the end of August. I started working on the 12th of September 2016.
What am I driving at, “resilience is very important and I know there are a lot of Nigerians probably are looking for a job right now, ‘Saying I’ve graduated two years ago there are no jobs in the country’ How many applications have you done? You haven’t done 3000. So don’t even complain because resilience with hard work and lot of prayers, I guarantee you that God will open doors where there’s no door.
Guess what, I didn’t have an aerospace background, mine is in biomedical. How come they took me in aerospace? Because first of all, when in school I didn’t limit my skill acquisition to just, this is what I am doing I cannot come and die. I collected the useful skills that were going to be useful in the industry.
DANG: I am so happy. It’s very compelling.
Dr Adeola Olubamiji: To be honest, I did not really want to be an academic because I wanted to contribute to the industrial aspect of development. However, I am the lead researching developmental engineer and we have partnered with a couple of universities. I am also the liaison officer between the company and universities. I won’t call myself an adjunct professor but I am at the University of Western in Canada.
DANG: What don’t you have right now that you wish you had?
Dr Adeola: Erm, I don’t have a boyfriend. Forgive me for saying that. I work hard, I recently just founded my own company STEM HUB, I am a consultant at my own company. I close from work at 5, when I get home I rest for a bit and see what I can do on my company’s part and I have a ten months foundation that I am growing as well. So all of these things kind of keep me away from really needing people. I am open to dating and yes, am also kind of picky I don’t want a man who doesn’t have his life together because he’s going to get intimidated and I’m a little scared of a distant relationship. I want to date a Nigerian it’s very important to me because I am going to have to keep this black girl dream alive. If he’s not Nigerian, he can be an African. I would love dating an African but not with horrible accent. All I ask is be intelligent. Intelligent to me is sexy.