Andrea's background story
I am a person who really loves travelling, discovering new destinations and is fascinated with nature and geography. I can name you capital of any country in the world and there is no destination that is not on my bucket list. Because of that, I always envisioned a career that would allow me to both travel and get paid for it.
I graduated from bachelor and masters studies at the Faculty of Sciences at the Department of Geography, Tourism and Hotel Management in Novi Sad, majoring in tourism, and the degree I acquired is MSc in Tourism.
The things Andrea wanted from her career
Since traveling and exploring new destinations are a great love of mine, I have always imagined a career in which I could travel a lot and make a living out of it. My tourismology course included compulsory field trips as part of professional practice, which was one of the main reasons why I opted for this type of studies. However, shortly afterwards, I realized that tourism was not as developed and well paid in our country, and that most of the jobs in the field of tourism were not what I had imagined to do in my life.
When I worked at a travel agency, even though it was a very good place in comparison to other travel agencies, and I had a chance to travel for free and visit a variety of destinations, as well as see all of the most luxurious hotels at destinations such as Turkey, Egypt, Spain and Greece, I realized that actual travels are only a small part of my work, while I spent most of my time doing something I didn’t really like.
I was introduced to software development by my boyfriend, and before that, I’ve never even thought about it as an option, because I believed that a person should be a "super genius" to be a developer. My turning point was a situation in which the travel agency I worked for needed a website. I took on that task because I wanted to learn something new, and at that point I noticed that it was not as difficult as I thought. When I realized that I enjoyed more working on the website than working with people and performing my everyday tasks, it became clear to me that I could do so much more than what I did then, so I decided to quit my job and become a part of the IT world. In the beginning it was scary and often I wasn't sure that I could do it. For me, the hardest part was changing my way of learning and thinking. The faculty I graduated from focused more on theory and courses in management, while software development requires logical thinking and continuous problem solving. I believe that learning new technologies is not a major challenge since anything can be learned, given enough effort and motivation. To me, learning programming was like learning a new language (which I was good at), difficult in the beginning, but given enough time and hard work, you can do anything, only if you set your mind to it.
The process of continuous learning
Software development is a field in which there is always something new to be learned, because technology is growing rapidly and it is impacting almost every sphere of life and every job there is. People need to constantly improve and to go forward, in order to keep pace with the technology, so one must be prepared for continuous learning in this field. So far, I’ve found a great amount of help in online courses and tutorials, primarily Pluralsight and HackerRank, but it was my job that showed me that the best way of learning is working on actual projects, with actual clients, deadlines and specific problems, because people remember new things best in situations when they really need them. On the other hand, while solving an abstract problem, knowledge of certain topic may vanish quickly if not used. Also I would recommend to find some tutor or a person who knows a lot in this field, who can help you when you get stuck.
A piece of advice
My message for all the girls who are thinking about re-qualification is – it might be a scary start, but it’s worth a try, since the IT sector is so broad that everyone can find his/her place in it, be it back-end or front-end development, project management, design or testing.
I would like to emphasize that it is not necessary for someone to be a genius, or to be exceptionally good at math in order to work in the IT sector. Also, claiming that women cannot do software development as well as men do is in my opinion prejudice. I think that they can even be better in certain aspects, since they are generally more design-oriented, have greater emotional intelligence and are generally better in working with people, so that design, front-end and project management positions suit them better, which is also evident in our company.
Don't be afraid to try, if a career in IT sector is what you see yourself in, you need to be prepared for continuous learning and to invest a lot of effort and motivation, but the outcome is certainly worth it.