In our most recent WomenInTechQA series, we caught up with Olena Drugalya, Software Engineer at Novatec Consulting GmbH.
Olena discusses what some of the benefits and challenges of a career in engineering and highlights what businesses and communities can do to encourage more women into 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; he was the one who inspired me. When I was on maternity leave, I decided to try to learn some coding. On one of the learning platforms I found an article about a girl who became a developer after being a stay-at-home mom for many years. This really resonated with me and my situation. Having two kids and switching careers into tech sounded like “the mission impossible”, but I am glad I gave it a go and am where I am today.
WR: What are some of the benefits and challenges of a career in tech and/or engineering?
OD: The job market in tech is enormous nowadays, thousands of companies are looking for new employees every day and that is a huge benefit. Among the other benefits I could mention the flexibility (it’s possible to work from office or remote), universality (anyone can work in tech) and decent salary.
As for challenges, tech job are a challenge in themselves. You need to learn a lot all at the beginning and continue to learn during your whole career. You also need to be prepared to deal with a high level of frustration and failures, and have the willpower to keep up with those.
WR: What advice would you give to other women looking to navigate a career in the industry?
OD: The best advice I have ever received was to start my career in tech. I still think it’s the best advice I could give (among others) because it takes courage to begin the transition into tech for real and not be afraid if it’s a right or wrong decision. We often tend to doubt our decisions since there are many other factors we have to take into consideration (family, kids, 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 into tech has begun!
Another good piece of advice is to be consistent. Make a plan and follow it. Nothing will make sense in 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 studying 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: First of all, the myth about “tech job being more suitable for men” should be gone once and for all. That is not the case for most European companies, but its surely still a case for the companies in the countries outside the EU. Seeing how many women have made transitions into tech and have been successful in the past few years proves that this direction is suitable for both men and women. Businesses should definitely care about more diversity in the workplace 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 started 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 to learn, I started to write posts about topics I was studying, to try and write down these difficult concepts in a simple language so that I could understand them. Then I saw others were struggling with the same problems and decided to share these materials with the broader community.
I would 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 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 what courses and bootcamps can provide. You always learn more when you work with other people on mutual projects. It also gives you the opportunity to learn soft skills too, like communication, cooperation, team work, planning, problem solving and these are just as important as coding!
If you would like to join Olena as part of our Q&A series, get in touch today!