Career Switchers Find Opportunities in Tech

13 Jul, 2020

Skillset is really something that makes us unique – knowledge, education, personal traits, work, books we’ve read, and people we’ve met. And experience, of course. We’ve talked to a few IT professionals with an interesting background. A former policeman, basketball player, astrophysicist, rescuer, and psychologist have changed their occupation to work in tech. How helpful can skills from a completely different field be on the cutting edge of technological innovation?

Andriy Rura, QA Engineer, EduNav

I studied Information Security at Lviv Polytechnic. After university, I worked as an emergency response worker or simply a rescuer at search and rescue service at the State Emergency Service of Ukraine in Lviv region.

Since my job was to look for lost tourists in the mountains, carry the injured from dangerous places with special equipment, climb mountains, raft, etc., my passion for sports and mountain hiking played a significant role in choosing the profession. Besides, a flexible schedule allowed me to simultaneously do some business. 

I’ve always been interested in information technologies, that’s why I got the appropriate education. The job of a rescuer is always dangerous, and at some point, since I already had a small child, I decided to think about my future perspectives. When I came across an interesting job offer, I decided to try my hand. I spent about half a year looking for a position that would fit me. Ar first, I worked with product content, but later got trained as a QA Engineer. 

In the beginning, I had doubts about whether I am skilled enough, if I could handle the volume of work and whether I can fit in the company. Though the company provided comfortable conditions and allowed to combine both positions while I was on probation. 

Already in a month, I understood that changing my profession was the absolutely right decision. The team devoted time to my education helped me with new things, and the colleagues have quickly become my friends. After the probation period, no doubts were left and I became a full-time member of EduNav. It wasn’t easy at first, but the help and support from my colleagues made the transition rather smooth for me.

Of course, some of the skills I gained at my previous job have really helped me in the tech industry. Working as a rescuer I learned how to be stress-resistant, how to trust your team, how to make decisions fast, and take responsibility. These skills are very helpful in both fields. The main difference is activity levels, my desk job is not that active, though it is safe and calm.

I have no doubt that I made the right choice, especially because my company constantly encourages my education and improvement.

Dmytro Palaniichuk, Front End Developer, Skelia Ukraine

Before the IT industry, I professionally played basketball in the Ukrainian basketball league in Sevastopol. I was qualified as a Master of Sports. It all started in the sixth grade at school, basketball became my hobby which lead me to the university basketball team. When I played in university league I received an invitation to join a major league. I can’t tell that I planned to do sports professionally, it was more like a hobby which had developed into a profitable job. However, I had never thought of it as my main occupation.

Between training sessions, I wanted to keep busy, so I started learning to program. I applied for as many online courses as possible and after a while, I received a few certificates. Programming interested me, so I began to learn more about coding in every spare moment I could find. At some point, I thought why not to try earning some extra money by freelancing. At that time, I was on the edge with basketball as I didn’t see any perspective in sports career.

Half a year of intensive learning and working on my own projects helped me to create a portfolio on Upwork and receive my first offer. I searched for opportunities and monitored new offers every day.

I met my mentor by accident. It was a person from the IT industry, who was my basketball fan and a tech company owner. He helped me to take the first step in my career and choose the professional direction in IT among plenty of others. At that moment I didn’t have any fears, my transition was pretty smooth: I still earned enough money as a professional sportsman and could get back in the game at any time.

I think there is no experience you cannot use at the new place. Basketball is a team game, and what I brought to IT from sports was team spirit, discipline, sporting sense, desire to win, and self-organization. I have never regretted my choice, though sometimes I want to play, and now it is hard to find time for that. I have great memories about my sports career and I am glad that I had such a diverse and eventful youth. It is difficult to compare sports and IT, but I noticed that my brain started to work in a different way and I have much more time for creativity now.

Volodymyr Oliinyk, QA Engineer, GlobalLogic

 The name of my position sounded like: Inspector of platoon #1, company #1, battalion #3 of Patrol Police Headquarters in Lviv, Patrol Police Department, police lieutenant followed by my full name. Actually, working in the police was my second profession. Before patrol police, I had worked as radio-electronic equipment and GPS monitoring system engineer. After working there for some time I understood that I need to move on. I started to search for something new, started to google options, but I didn’t have a clear vision of what I would like to do. One day I read about Ukrainian patrol police reform and decided to try myself out. Not that I really wanted to become a policeman, it was more like an interesting challenge for me. Well, going through the interview process stage by stage, and having reached the final interview, I got really excited about this reform. After a successful interview, I didn’t have any doubts, so I decided to become a policeman and do the required training.

However, the working process has shown where it’s heading. So after considering all the pros and cons of working in police, I realized that the choice was kind of obvious. Promised working conditions have never been met and it was getting harder and harder to work. As a result, I made the decision to quit. The only thing left was to choose what to do next. It is no secret that the tech industry is one of the most promising and stable ones. The tech market is constantly growing and so is the number of vacancies in tech with tempting salaries and opportunities for further development. After all, most of my friends have been offering me to join the tech community. I decided to give it a shot.

Transition to another industry was easy. I like things to be smooth (although it doesn’t happen that often). Back in my childhood I really liked to play computer games; actually, one of my dreams was to become a game tester one day. There were not that many game tester job openings in Lviv, but still, I decided to look for a job in the field of Quality Assurance.

I’ve already experienced a similar situation when I first joined police service, there was no fear at all. Changing profession is like discovering a whole new world, where it’s all about gaining valuable knowledge and meeting new friends. I clearly understood that no matter how things might go, changes are always for the best.

In the beginning, I was dedicating a couple of hours for studying every day off I had. I did my research, googled useful online materials and video tutorials, but soon enough I joined the actual tech course. As soon as I completed the course, one tech company invited me for a job interview. Of course, it wasn’t successful, but it made me realize that I need more practice to get the job I want. I googled where can I get the real practical experience and found a course by QAtestlab with a test project. I finished the course in one month, rewrote my CV, and began to actively attack tech companies of the city. In about a month, I got a job offer.

It might be hard, but you have to believe in yourself and never give up. If you get feedback from HR managers like: “Everything is great, but we cannot offer you a job at this point”, think of it as if you went to get some bread, but a bakery had just run out of bread. Of course, you won’t stay hungry, you will just go to another one. You know, as they say, “Don’t start what you can’t finish.”

I can say that things in the new job are going smoothly and I like it that way. After two years of constant action, I appreciate peace and quiet of my current work. Career perspectives, personal development, great working conditions, and financial reward and the absence of crazy things at work is more than enough. In this sense, the previous job was different. But actually, I noticed some parallels in the tech industry and police service. What differs the most are the names:

800x500

I don’t regret changing my profession. The only thing I regret about is that didn’t try it sooner. If I quit my previous job earlier, I would have achieved much better results in tech by now. Anyways, for now, my expectations about the industry perfectly match the reality.

Yuliya Vorzheva, Head of Talent Management Office, ELEKS

I’ve been working in the tech industry for 8 years. At first, I started as an HR manager and for the last two years, I take Head of Talent Management Office position. My professional path has begun in kindergarten as a psychologist. I was the very first psychologist in Lviv within the experiment as a preschool educational program. That was a deliberate choice as I really wanted to work with kids; so right after my graduation, I passed a job interview and got that job. After a while, I got one more job in an educational unit, which later on opened up a primary school where I managed to handle the position of psychologist and Assistant Director. The best part of my job was communication with children and their parents, assistance in kids’ development and diagnosis of their issues. I’ve been doing that for almost ten years.

My next job was teaching psychology at the Ukrainian Academy of Printing, however, I wanted to do something else. I was thinking about a permanent job as an HR, but I never considered working in the tech industry. As it turned out, one of my friends was working at a tech company and suggested me to try my luck and apply to Eleks as HR manager. For me, the tech industry was very unusual, including terminology and community to interact with. On the one hand, at first, I asked too many questions, to figure out how to use terminology correctly, what was the specifics of work of each of the colleagues and why they weren’t satisfied with their high salaries. On the other hand, I was impressed with a newly found aspiration to learn as much as possible and improve myself. I got the impression that the tech industry offers more opportunities for self-expression in comparison with other fields. This concerns professional as well as personal aspects. I don’t regret the choice I made; on the contrary, I feel this driving force to improve, learn, meet new people, travel and get new skills.

Yulia Diakiv, C#/.Net Engineer, Lohika

I got a Master’s degree in Astronomy and Astrophysics in the Erasmus Mundus course in Germany. Back in the times when I was a student in Ukraine, I found a part-time job as a physics and math tutor for school pupils and students.

While I was completing my second master’s thesis, I realized that respect science, yet I cannot continue working in it. It was very important for me to use my knowledge in practice, while science is focused more on theoretical work.

That got me thinking about what I want to do next. Considering that I wanted to return to Lviv from Germany, I decided to try myself in the tech industry in Lviv, as it seemed a very popular field with a number of professional and good financial options to offer. 

I knew for sure that I really wanted to work as a developer because QA wasn’t that intriguing for me. How did I choose the code language? That was very simple. At that time I’ve been dating a guy who happened to be C#/.Net Developer. Certainly, he recommended me to pick the same programming language, as soon as he has found out I wanted to join the community. I trusted his opinion and that moment defined my choice. I always joke that “the guy is long gone, yet C# is still with me”. To be honest, coding wasn’t a whole new world for me (I’ve studied programming in the university; also, my astrophysics master’s work required coding for spectrum processing algorithms).

I’m sure that a great desire to achieve something, skills, and remarkable tenacity can lead to anything, even if that’s time and resource-consuming process. It’s hard to say how much time did it take to find a new job. I guess it took up to six months from the moment of graduation until the moment I started as a trainee at a tech company. The most important thing that I learned from doing physics and astrophysics is that what really matters is how much you truly understand, not how much you simply remembered. The same concerns coding – it is extremely important to comprehend the concepts, why the code works this way, its interdependencies, and details. Another thing to keep in mind is the more you know, the more you don’t know. Self-evident truth might be false, if only you know more; this pushes for the constant learning process to continue self-improvement. 

The hardest thing to deal with in science was that a long and time-consuming work could easily lead to negative results. Or even positive results could be disappointing because their application in practice might take decades or even hundreds of years. For this reason, it makes sense to make science for science only. Richard Feynman once said that “Physics is like sex: sure, it may give some practical results, but that’s not why we do it”. In tech everything is completely different – a practical application of knowledge is the main purpose; it doesn’t take years of waiting to see the results of your work.

Other news