Alumni Stories | Julie Deng
What were you doing before you joined the Uprise Academy program?
I'd been working for large corporate brands for about 5 years and was starting to feel restless and jaded about the work and the bureaucratic nature of the industries I'd worked in. I was unfulfilled but didn't know where to go or what to do (apart from taking a very long holiday...but then coming back to this again). I felt trapped.
How has your career changed since graduating from Uprise Academy?
I was lucky that a lot of my cohort in Uprise Academy were very entrepreneurial and socially-minded, and they introduced me to the world of startups, tech, and enacting change through technology. I started to read and immerse myself in tech news, trends, people and the industry. I still didn't know what I wanted to do but I had found something that I truly enjoyed just learning about.
Fast forward 12 months and I am now working in San Francisco for Honor, a startup in the health and senior care space, and for a mission very close to my heart. Africa and the Uprise Academy was the turning point and ammunition I needed to go and build a life I actually wanted to live in.
What was the biggest lesson you learned after joining Uprise Academy?
The biggest gift the program gave me was the ability to trust in my own natural intuition and self. I realised the reason I was unfulfilled back home was because I'd built this life/ career that was based on others' expectations of me and that I'd been living for so many people besides myself. Africa was where I learnt, for the first time, to live for myself.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about applying for the program?
Do your research - about the program, about yourself and about what you want out of it. I went into the program knowing I needed inspiration in my life and I found it. Uprise Academy program (as with much in life) will deliver what you decide to get out of it. There are multiple other programs out there which will give you skills and career development but for me, it was the travelling, the group of strangers-turned-lifelong friends, and the time/ freedom the Uprise Academy gave for me to play, to try and to remember what it's like to discover things you love that made it worth the world.
Connect with Julie on Linkedin.