In our most recent WomenInTechQA series, we caught up with Olena Drugalya, Software Engineer at Novatec Consulting GmbH.
Olena discusses some of the benefits and challenges of a career in software engineering, and mentions what inspired her to start her own blog. Olena also offers her advice to other women looking to transition into a career in tech.
W.I.T. Republic (WR): To start, could you talk a bit about what inspired you to pursue a career in software engineering?
Olena Drugalya (OD): My husband was always telling me that I could do a career in tech and that I should at least try, and he was the one who inspired me to take the leap of faith. When I was on maternity leave, I decided to give it a go; on one of the learning platforms I was using, I found an article about a woman who became a developer after being a stay-at-home mom for many years, which really resonated with my situation. Having two children and switching to a career in tech sounded like “the mission impossible”, but I am glad I gave it a shot.
WR: What are some of the benefits and challenges of a career in tech and/or engineering?
OD: The job market in tech is growing everyday, thousands of companies are looking for new employees for their tech teams and that is a huge benefit. Among the other benefits that a career in tech brings, I could highlight the flexibility (it’s possible to work from office or remotely), universality (anyone can work in tech) and decent salary.
As for challenges, I would say that working in the tech industry is a challenge in itself, because you need to learn a lot all at the beginning and continue to learn during the whole career, it is a constant process. As a result you need to be prepared for a high level of frustration and failures, and have the willpower to carry on.
WR: What advice would you give to other women looking to navigate a career in the industry?
OD: The best piece of advice I have received in my career was at the very beginning and that was to just do it and start my journey into tech. I think this is the best advice I can give others because it takes courage to transition into a career in tech and not be afraid of whether you made the right decision by doing so. We often tend to doubt our decisions as there are many other factors we have to take into consideration (family, children, household, friends etc), but once the decision to start is solid and you have a plan with precise actions, that is the most important thing and the journey to tech has begun!
Another good piece of advice I can give is to be consistent. Make a plan and follow it. Nothing will make sense at the beginning, but if you continue, it will click eventually. If you don’t understand something today – come back to it tomorrow…and after tomorrow. Make your study and coding your habit. The famous Twitter “100DaysOfCode” challenge helped me a lot with this.
WR: What do you think businesses and communities can do to encourage more women into a career in tech?
OD: The myth that “tech jobs are more suitable for men” should be gone once and for all. Seeing how many women have made the transition into a career in tech and become successful, proves that this career path is suitable for both men and women. Businesses should make an effort to care more diversity in the workplaces and create an appropriate working culture.
WR: You also have your own blog, could you tell us a bit about it?
OD: I started my blog when I began my studies as a web developer. I wanted people to know my story; about being a stay-at-home mom and learning web development. I was hopeful it could encourage other women like me who were afraid of transitioning into tech.
But as I continued studying, I started to write posts, just for myself, about topics I was learning to simplify these difficult concepts. When I saw others were struggling with the same problems I decided to share these materials with the broader community.
I encourage everyone to start writing a blog. It is one of the best ways to learn, because you need to research something and then you have to explain what it is and what it does, and how you can use it. It’s also a great way of holding yourself accountable and making sure that you keep progressing towards your goals.
WR: Finally, in your opinion, what are the main benefits of attending coding courses and bootcamps?
OD: Since I am a self-taught and never attended any bootcamps, I cannot say much about those. But what I was lacking when I was studying is definitely a community of people who do the same thing. That is something that courses and bootcamps can provide. You always learn more when you work with other people on a project. Of course, you mainly learn soft skills like communication, cooperation, team work, planning and problem solving but they are just as important as coding!
If you would like to join Olena as part of our WomenInTechQA series, get in touch today!