1) Brief Introduction to yourself and what you currently do, and what your main interests are
Hey, my name is Daniel Malaolu and I am currently on my placement year at PayPal as an Integration Engineer. If you couldn’t already tell by my surname, I am Nigeran! I have lived in London for my whole life, but I plan to make more trips back to my home country in the future and to travel more. I have recently picked back up the Saxophone and Piano and I also have an undying interest in fintech.
2) If you went to university, what did you study and why? What’s the story behind it?
Last year, I completed my second year at the University of Bath studying Computer Science. I had decided to pursue a Computer Science course which included a placement year in particular, so this had already narrowed down my options when choosing a place to study. I was adamant on utilizing this opportunity to gather more work experience before graduating and landing square in the hunt for post graduate job roles.
Computer Science had stood out to me from when I was young. I had a genuine interest in technologies, my family would always ask me to help with their computer problems and being an avid gamer from very young, my first ever ‘dream’ job was to be a Software Game Designer. This dream job has since changed, however that desired dream job is what provided me with the interest to look into Computer Science as a course, and the opportunities within it.
3) What were some of the challenges you faced with entering the role you are in today?
The placement application process, especially within our new climate of working from home, felt more competitive than ever. In general, the application race is an arduous process. But having to balance studying from home for exams, applying for placements and finding a balance for other activities and work ventures was a very draining task over the long run. My application for PayPal was genuinely a much more refreshing experience than many of the other applications I had submitted. I had found myself enjoying the application process more, and the turnover from the first submission of my Cover Letter and CV, going through the application stages, and receiving an offer was fast. They didn’t waste any time!
4) How do you ensure you bring your authentic self to work/in everything you?
I value who I am entirely as opposed to pressurizing myself to conform to other people’s standards and opinions. This is not to say that I do not value other people’s opinions, but rather that their opinions do not define who I am as a person. I often tell myself that wherever I am, I am supposed to be there. And although you may naturally doubt your abilities when faced with any challenges in life, it’s important to always remind yourself of this. I also remind myself that it is so much more refreshing to be able have successes whilst being yourself, as opposed to trying to be someone who you’re not. Again, it really relates back to how you value you being authentically you.
5) What type of legacy do you want to leave behind?
This is a huge question. My shorter-term goal is to be able to provide mentorship to upcoming black professionals who are younger than me. This will directly help in forming my legacy as I want to contribute to breaking the subconscious norms that has been set up when it comes to diversity in different work sectors and wealth statuses. I want to be able to share any knowledge that I have with those who relate to me, through the shared experiences that we face being black and an ethnic minority in the UK. The power of having connections and a network of people who look like you and have reached varying degrees of success is so important. I want to contribute to this in the short term.
6) What makes you proud to be black/ what are you proudest of regarding your heritage?
There is a pride and appreciation I have from being black. The understanding and awareness of the challenges my parents have faced to get me here, and the challenges we have and still do face collectively as black people. It helps strengthen my resolve in any challenge that I face and through any prejudice placed on me due to my skin colour. Our heritage is so rich and full of culture it’s difficult for it to go unnoticed in my eyes. I am proud that I am Nigerian and for the amazing delicacies of Nigerian cuisine, just thinking about having pounded yam, egusi soup with some fish is already making me tear up. It is so comforting to know that I am part of a culture and heritage of extremely creative people.
7) Any tips for upcoming kings and queens, that don’t quite yet see the crown on their head?
It’s so important to value yourself amongst the endless comparisons you can make nowadays. Once you understand that everyone is unique and has their own perks and flaws, it will help strengthen the way you approach the things you do and your outlook on the challenges you face. It’s easy to fall into the mindset that you may not be able to reach to the level of people you see around you, whether that be in the media, on Instagram or the people around you. It’s important to have self-confidence, build strong willpower through your adversities and to understand that you are on your own individual journey and learning. The rest will follow and your successes will grow with this personal development.