Inspirational Influencers: April Speight

From working in men's luxury fashion to becoming a Senior Program Manager at Microsoft while owning her own business, Vogue & Code- meet April!

My name is April and I am a Sr. Program Manager at Microsoft. I’m from DC but moved to California a little over a year ago. I used to work in luxury fashion however I’ve been in tech now for 6 years. The majority of my roles have consisted of project management or system analyst roles.

I create content to help people learn Python. I also think everything from the 80s is the best. 

What does a typical work day look like for you?

Since I work fully remote, I have a significant amount of flexibility in my day. It’s taken me a while to get to this point in my career so I definitely do not take it for granted.

I wake up and head downstairs to Equinox for either a class or a quick run. I then return to my home and eat a light breakfast.

After that, I start my workday. I have meetings sometimes throughout the day but for the most part, a lot of what I do is strategy and planning for the rollout of upcoming features.

If I didn’t get a chance to go to the gym first thing in the morning, then I’ll drop by for a class mid day. As the afternoon starts to roll around, I take a break just to chill out and get my mind together. I found that I cannot sit and work for 8 hours straight at a time. It just doesn’t happen that way for me.

So I tend to switch gears by early afternoon, and begin to work on personal ventures. However, as the evening begins, I start back up with whatever I was working on for my workday.

I then spend some time with my other half, and once he is settled in for the night, I work until it’s time for me to go to sleep.

Honestly, when you work a 9-to-5 and also own your own company, you work 24/7. So I definitely do not take moments where I have nothing to do for granted. They come far and few in between.

What got you into technology? What were you doing before you got to where you are now? What was that transition like?

I had a very particular lifestyle that I wanted to maintain, and I knew for a fact that working in tech would help me get there. I spent five years in luxury fashion as a menswear stylist and merchandiser. One day I realized that I wouldn’t be able to reach my fullest financial and professional potential by staying in that world full time.

Fortunately, I had a certificate that I earned in undergrad in business project management. I just hadn’t realize at the time that most project management roles were in tech. However, I soon found out as I began job searching that most project management roles were in IT.

Transitioning into tech wasn’t the worst thing in the world, rather it had its challenges. But I think that’s normal when transitioning into any industry. I was fortunate enough to have a manager give me a chance.

Prior and upon hire, I was very intentional on what my goals were. I was sure to express that out loud with my manager. And honestly, I was able to do all that I had intended because I was upfront about what my goals were. She made sure that my time with the organization provided me the means to reach the professional goals I had set for myself. 

What advice would you give to Black women who want to build their own brand and start a company from the ground up?

Before you launch any products, be sure that you know your audience. Don’t feel obligated to be something that everyone else wants you or expects you to be. It’s so much easier to build a brand when you’re firm in what you believe in as well as who your audience is.

You’ll receive feedback along the way. In my opinion, feedback that does not come from my particular niche or audience doesn’t hold much weight to the business decisions that I make. However, if your audience actually does have something to say about your business, be sure to actually listen and not be defensive. At the end of the day, they are the ones that place money into your pocket.

Also, do not let your race or ethnic background be a reason for why you feel that you can’t do something. There is ALWAYS a way. Sure, you might have to jump through a few hoops. But at the end of the day, nothing is impossible. Build your brand or business by any means necessary.

Twitter is a life changing platform for many people. Has Twitter changed your life? If so, how? What advice would you give to those who want to use Twitter’s platform for opportunity?

Honestly, Twitter and just putting in a lot of grunt work behind the scenes has changed my life. If you’re looking to use Twitter for opportunity, the best advice that I could give to you is to always remember that image is everything. There is no rule on what image should look like, rather just be mindful of how you put yourself out there. If you so choose to put yourself out there in one manner online, then be sure to follow through in real life as well.

Trust me, it will get exhausting trying to keep up with multiple personalities. I’ve seen it happen to people.  That’s why I love just sticking to being authentic. Don’t worry about trying to fit in with what everyone else thinks is cool. Just be yourself! When brands and companies reach out to you with opportunities, they’re doing it under the assumption that you’re not going to personality switch on them. 

Where can people find you?

I’m mostly on Twitter @vogueandcode. You can find my tutorials and how to content on my website: www.vogueandcode.com. In addition you could also watch my videos on my YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/c/vogueandcode.