Faith Akinbo, Class of 2013
July 7, 2017
Faith Akinbo may have only recently graduated University of Rhode Island this May, but this July, he is stepping into a new role: from student to a hired software engineer at Capitol One. After graduating with honors and earning his Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering, Faith moves to Virginia this summer to work with the financial institution and Fortune 500 company.
A 2013 graduate of the Automotive program at Davies, Faith stopped by the school before moving. “I wanted to tell my story to other students,” he said. “To tell them that they can do it, too. There’s nothing stopping them from achieving whatever they want to do.”
What was your experience like in high school?
All the faculty and staff were very supportive of my future in college and they were good at telling you what to expect once you got to college. They made an impact on me that I can’t forget. This is where it all started from, where my inspiration for engineering started, and I wanted to come back to visit the teachers because I feel at home here. You can’t say that about other places.
My Automotive teacher, Mr. Murphy, was my mentor in the professional field. He always had high standards and having those high standards is what helps you in the future because companies have high standards. High standards are expected in all areas of life. Mrs. Murphy (in School-to-Career) helped me get my co-op at Le Myres Collision in Central Falls which gave me experience inside the real world of automotive. Even when I did automotive at Davies, I knew I wanted to do computer engineering. I wasn’t in Pre-Engineering here; I was in Automotive. I liked having more than one skill. I knew it would be something I could have in my back pocket, and especially if I want to work with Tesla or something. Companies like candidates who have broad resumes so that was beneficial to me. I’m glad that I went through automotive because I enjoyed it every step of the way – some of the stuff I learned there is useful for engineering. All the circuits and resistors came into play to help me in the future.
Was the transition from Automotive to Engineering difficult? When did you first become interested?
When I was little, I would take apart my toys. I always wanted to know what was inside. I wanted to know how everything worked together. I broke a lot of my toys when I was little. I always had a hunger to know how things worked. In middle school, I always came home and watched “How It’s Made.” That inspired me to want to be an engineer. I fixed phones in high school… I fixed Mrs. Reilly’s phone! I knew some of the components that were inside the phone and liked seeing how everything worked together. That also helped my pursuit of engineering.
When I got to URI, Computer Engineering wasn’t what I thought it was. I thought Engineering was just drag-and-drop. “Drag-and-drop” and “make this.” I thought it was easier than what it was. Going in, I had zero engineering experience to what engineering actually was. I had zero experience, but I picked up quickly on what was needed to be an engineer: Problem solving, thinking step by step, and how little things and little steps make the big things that we have today.
How did you use your time in college to set you up for your career?
I got a work study job inside the engineering computer center at URI. It was a job that gave me skills to diagnose problems with computers, fix them, and also have good communication skills with students and faculty who would come by with their computers. It also, allowed me to do my homework while I was there, so it was a true work study job. A lot of other jobs on campus aren’t; you don’t get to study. It was so beneficial to me -- in computer engineering, every hour was precious to me. Your time is filled with assignments. By itself, that job gave me skills I could use when interviewing in the future.
I joined the National Society of Black Engineers and they had conferences where you get to meet with the top Fortune 500 companies. I applied for different positions at their national conference and got offers from Northrop Grumman, John Deere, Cisco, and Capitol One. I chose Capitol One because of their culture, the way they treat their employees, and how everybody is treated equally inside the work environment. I saw on a survey on Glassdoor that they had an extremely high employee satisfaction rating, which was important to me. I want to be happy where I work.
What do you think helped you have such success in college?
When I came into URI, I came in through Talent Development. If people understood how beneficial Talent Development was, they’d jump at the opportunity. It’s a life saver. The TD program gave you a taste of college before you start and you get those free credits, too. It also helped me with my language requirement.
I started in the engineering program and I met two friends of mine, Omose and Ken; they were two fellow computer engineers that started and ended with me in the program. Having these close friends was really beneficial for me and throughout the four years we accomplished a lot together. Our relationship is still strong today. We were all in the National Society of Black Engineers which gave us interview skills, academic support, and professional skills for the work field. Omose, Ken, and I created a URI sticker pack for the iOS app store, which was a first of its kind for colleges. It’s a college-based sticker pack, called “Rhodiemojis.” It was a success on the campus and the students were very excited when the application came out. We got a lot of good feedback and we chose to expand our sticker pack and made one for Providence College, which the students there are also excited about.
We’re basically a start-up company. We learned about marketing, sales, and promotion of our product. People didn’t truly understand what it was at first; our flyers only showed a few stickers. When we showed people on our phones though, or made presentations, they understood. We’ve changed up our advertising, to show as many stickers as possible on our flyers. It was a learning experience, but it helped a lot in job interviews. People were really impressed by it.
Jobs don’t want you go just go to school and have a good GPA. They want to see the impact you had on your school and the impact you made while you were at college. We made the Rhodiemojis to leave our mark on the campus and give back to URI. That was our main goal for making the app in the first place, to give back.
What advice do you have for everyone still in high school?
My advice is to not give up. Keep the right people around you that will support you throughout your educational journey. You will hit stumbling blocks on your way, but it’s how you overcome them that matters in the end. Not how they affect you. Every roadblock will make you stronger, and that’s up to you to decide how it affects you. There’s no easy road in life, but there’s always a reward for people who take the path less taken. Don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t do something and don’t stop yourself from chasing your dreams of what you want to be in life. If I can do it, you can do it.
You have to have the right people around you; people who will support you. I have a group of five close friends in Engineering that I met at URI. There are other friends, but five close. I want to thank Davies, the faculty, and community for their support throughout my four years at the school. They were all supportive in helping guide me to the right steps towards college. When I come here, I feel at home, and welcome, and I’m glad that I had my high school experience here. It was like no other.