Meet Mariia 👋. She was working as a translator before she decided she wanted to be a part of Berlin’s fast-paced tech scene. She joined another bootcamp before Spiced, but struggled to find a job in 2020. She joined Spiced Academy in order to go deeper into JavaScript and now, after just one job application in 2021, she landed a job as a Backend Web Developer.

 

Could you tell us a little bit about your educational and professional background?

I used to work as a technical translator and localization manager for the gas and oil industry. I was in this role for three years, right after moving to Berlin in 2016. Then I decided I wanted to leave and do something different.

 

How do you like Berlin? How have you found the opportunities for jobs?

I like Berlin, which is nothing surprising! I think the tech scene is great here, with plenty of opportunities, which is why I decided to try something different from translation.

The whole of last year was really hard – not just in Berlin, but everywhere. I spent the year looking for jobs and always getting rejected. There was a hiring freeze for juniors in almost every city, I guess. But then when I was at Spiced this year I actually noticed that there are many more job opportunities now, and also for juniors and entry-level developers.

On top of that, with the skill set you learn at Spiced it’s great because you can choose where you want to apply – not just apply because you want to land somewhere. After Spiced, with the JavaScript based curriculum, I really felt that I could be flexible in my job search.

 

And you already landed a job! Congratulations!

Thank you! Yes I landed a job 6 weeks into the course, and it was funny because we were learning Node.js at the time, which actually helped me to land the job because the coding challenges were impossible without it.

 

What will your title be?

I will be a backend developer. But I will also learn other new things so I have the possibility to become a full stack developer, which is exciting!

 

What about your job search process, how was that? Any tips for upcoming grads?

I will be speaking from my two experiences: from my previous bootcamp, and also Spiced, so that people can have a real idea of what it will be like.

After my graduation from my previous bootcamp, it was pretty hard times. I think I had false expectations that I would land a job immediately, like “now I have tech skills and everyone will want to hire me!”. Actually you can spend something like 7 months to even a year trying to land a job.

The important thing to know is it’s ok, it doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you or that no-one wants to hire you. Sometimes it’s just bad luck, or companies are receiving so many applications that yours is just not enough at that time. But yeah, that was really frustrating for me.

This year with Spiced though, it was totally different – I got my job offer after one application. It was extremely surprising for me considering my experience last year, but also really rewarding because I worked a lot, went for a second bootcamp, and really pushed myself.

So for tips, I would say concentrate on building something – maybe an app or something. Continue to build your projects you make at Spiced, and don’t spend too much time on tutorials! It’s a rabbit hole. It’s like riding a bicycle. You can read about it, but you won’t really learn until you get out there and do it.

Also, apply everywhere (if it feels good to you). Getting rejected is frustrating emotionally but the more it happens, the more you get used to it and the more it’s ok.

 

That’s great advice! So take us back to the day when you decided this intensive learning method – a bootcamp – was for you?

I was a bit stuck in my old job and didn’t know what to do. I wasn’t growing any more. I was trying to find another job as a translator but it was really hard.

A friend of mine told me, “well why not try a bootcamp? It’s good for people without technical knowledge”. For me it was like, “hmm ok… I’ll need to have a think.” My partner is also a developer and I was always frightened of this black screen with all those colourful lines. So I was skeptical about it – but also I had nothing to lose.

I went for my first coding bootcamp and it was really a great decision. I had good results, which surprised me because I never imagined that I would succeed at coding. I grew up in a pretty sexist environment where people would tell me, “you’re a girl. You should do something connected with languages.”

And yeah, I’m on the artsy side, but actually people come to coding from all kinds of backgrounds – musicians, artists, whatever. Of course it requires some logical thinking but nothing that we’re not capable of. It’s also a creative profession.

 

And why Spiced? What made the course stand out to you?

The first thing was that I knew someone that went there and they really liked it. Also the 12 week format appealed to me, which no-one else has. Those three extra weeks can make a huge difference when you’re learning to code.

Another important thing is the JavaScript-based curriculum, with a focus on frameworks that are actually used in the market now. Like, this is what the market looks like in Berlin and in other cities, so I figured after Spiced I would have many more opportunities.

I also liked the smaller groups, so you can get to know people better in a more relaxed atmosphere.

 

You were in a remote cohort. Tell us a bit about how that was, and if you have any tips for people who will have to study from home?

It was a real pity that we couldn’t meet each other, but for some things it was good because I didn’t have to commute for an hour. I also liked that I could just concentrate on things and sit until late and still feel good because I didn’t get tired so quickly as I would if I went to the office.

So I didn’t have too much to complain about, but it would have been nice to meet my cohort.

 

What did you find the most challenging aspects of the course?

It took me some time at the beginning because you have to get used to having deadlines – like you have to complete your tasks and work on some mandatory features. That means you need to plan your time well, so you can manage it all. That took some time for me to adjust to.

 

On the contrary, what was your favorite aspect of the course?

Well, actually I also really liked the deadlines – it was also a good point because it brought some organization into my work.

I liked that we built three projects during the bootcamp before building our own for the final one. That means that you can already build your portfolio after the bootcamp and actually show something that you did – not just some small tasks, but actual projects.

I also think that after Spiced, you can really start as a junior web developer. You get to a really good level. Of course you always need to work outside the curriculum as well; to read things, to learn something more, to try things out. But that’s true for everyone who learns to code with whatever method.

And I really like how the curriculum was built. We went from simple things to more complicated, and things build upon each other. It was great.

 

Could you tell me a little bit about your instructors? What were they like?

They were always very friendly and always very motivated to answer questions – they always made it fun.

I liked that we had like not so many instructors, compared with my previous experience. It was more personal also when it came to the two teachers helping you, or us students communicating with each other. You could have a picture of which questions to ask who.

At Spiced, there’s this community feel where you get to know everyone better.

 

Describe Spiced in three words?

Inspiring, challenging, family.