One day, a friend of mine sent me an article about a new free IT course launching in Slovakia. It might sound profound but since then, my life has changed. From a graduate of Physical Geography and Geoinformatics, I have become a full-time IT developer. Here’s a story of how that happened.
I live in Senec, a small town close to Bratislava, and I am 24. Even though my main interest was in nature, today I work as a Java frontend developer. A friend of mine who is currently on his PhD in A.I. sent me a link, and I read about Harvard’s CS50 course by Technology Nation by BrainBasket launching in Bratislava.
That sounded great – a free course based on a curriculum from one of the most prestigious universities in the world. With the encouragement from my friend, I gave it a shot. The timing was also good. It was summer, and I had a vacation so I said to myself: I should do at least something useful during the time.
This was not my first encounter with IT, though. During my studies, I got to create my first computer program. Before finishing the university, I had already found a part-time job as a Salesforce developer. My master’s thesis also focused on programming and automating the latest scientific methods and that was when I’d realized that maybe I could become a programmer.
At first, I thought that the length of the course is too long, 3-4 months were announced. I wanted to focus on learning as soon as possible so I thought it’s not suited for me. Only later on we all found out that the length of the course is ideal. It is not possible to gather such wisdom in a short period of time.
The most engaging part of the course was the variety of the topics. I was lacking a deeper understanding of how most of the software and hardware worked. I knew how to make the code work somehow but the bigger picture was missing. We studied programming and how computers and applications work nowadays, had to solve various assignments and thereby learnt different approaches in order to complete whole problem sets.
There were also hard times when I was thinking about quitting completely. With every new challenge there come new struggles that you need to deal with. The CS50 videos and text lectures were helpful but sometimes you need a totally different perspective on the subject. Especially, when it is your first time.
What helped me overcome those critical moments were our instructors. They went further than just staying with us during the course. They offered on-demand help through online consultations. What we needed was usually just a couple more examples of the discussed topic in order to internalize it properly, or sometimes just “an eye of supervision” to help with some errors and little bugs in our code.
Since I already had more experience and more free time than other attendees (who were also employed during that time), I could finish the course faster. My speed increased even more when we reached the Python assignments as I already had previous experience with this language.
After getting so far ahead in the course, I decided to use the free time to look into job offers as I had been unemployed for a few months already. I reviewed my CV, added the latest experience from the course, uploaded it on my Profesia.sk and LinkedIn profiles and searched for online job offers.
After several interviews for Python developer positions which turned out to be more senior-oriented, I gladly accepted help from an HR company dedicated to filling IT positions in the Slovak market. They optimized my CV, found relevant job offers, set up interviews and helped me get prepared for them. From the various offers, I decided to go for the one that felt the best and, thus, I’m currently working as a Java frontend developer in a Slovak IT company.
The possibilities in Slovakia may not be that bad but any average job gets harder when we start aging. IT sector has a huge perspective, offers various job positions and is definitely the most reliable. It offers benefits that other professions can hardly match.
If we want to talk about negatives, the only one may be the need for adaptation. New technologies emerge every day and not going with the flow decreases your value. Good thing is that you don’t really have to adapt that much if you don’t want to. You can also always choose whether you wish to work ten hours a day or just six. Any type of personality can find the ideal environment.
Many people hesitate to join IT professions because of the fear of unknown. Once you experience it for the first time you’ll understand that it’s not as difficult as you imagined at first. Naturally, laziness affects all of us and can have a huge impact but choosing the harder way in this industry is usually worth the effort.
Toss your fears aside and think about yourself for a moment. If you by any chance have any technological interests, logical thinking or systematic approach, you should definitely give it a shot. The future belongs to those who can use and create technology. Depending on how good you are, you can find either a good or a very good job! The hunger for people in this industry is huge. Show passion and a bit of skill and that alone is enough for a company to give you a (good) chance.
Perspective and bright future await those who can bring value to the society. Be the one who can do that and you can find the solution to many potential future life problems at once.
The article is brought to you in cooperation with Technology Nation Slovakia.
Photo: Ľuboš Valčo