Meet Natasha 👋. She moved to Berlin in 2016 and was struggling to find work without speaking German. She found out about Spiced around 2 years after moving, and graduated from our coding bootcamp in 2018. 3 years later, she’s got a load of experience under her belt and is currently working as a Software Engineer at Beta Systems. We caught up with Natasha and spoke about her current role, life as a developer, and the challenges of breaking through in a male-dominated profession.
Hi Natasha! Thanks for talking to us 🙂. Can you open by telling us a little about your educational and professional background before joining Spiced?
I came to Germany in 2016 after graduating from Architectural Design bachelor in Portugal. It was hard to find job opportunities without experience and without speaking German fluently. Before finding out about Spiced, I was working in a Coffee Shop for about 2 years. I kept thinking that after 2 years being a graduate without any relevant Architecture job related experience would be pretty hard to get in the market at this point.
You completed Spiced’s Full Stack course over 3 years ago! What have you been up to since then?
Wow! Can I say that I’m a veteran now? I worked for a FinTech and an Insurance Company during the past 3 years, and also started my own side project, a Software Engineering Agency that works with women only from Brazil that are just starting their tech careers.
How difficult was it to find a job after the course?
After completing the bootcamp so much has happened! Right after the 3 month, I decided to take a break to re-organize all the projects we developed during the course, setting up a CV based on the guidelines and workshops we received at Spiced. After about 3 months I landed my first Internship opportunity. People whom I had interviews with, were kind of shocked by the knowledge that I had acquired during only 3 intensive months! Even though I wasn’t the best, at least I thought, programmer in the world during the bootcamp. It wasn’t easy, but I learned a lot from the interview process as well.
Tell us a bit about your company, Beta Systems?
Beta Systems is specialized in developing and selling software applications that automate the business processes of major corporations, IT service providers, public authorities and mid-sized companies. We work mostly helping companies with automated Data processing. Pretty cool, ha?
How did Spiced prepare you for your role as a Software Engineer?
Definitely it helped me a lot, in many ways! But the most important one was to understand that anyone can do this, that programming is a field where you will likely be studying during your entire career as it is constantly evolving! It helped me to understand the power of communication between peers and most of all gave me all the tools to continue to navigate the tech universe.
What’s a career in Web Development like, what are some of the challenges?
Faced with this socially unequal and exclusive scenario, I question, (in addition to the guidelines on racism and gender) the dilemma of the requirement for experience in companies that do not give opportunity and access for young people to build their careers and, thus, to qualify professionally. Being a mostly male dominated field, it was a challenge to prove my self-worth. Fortunately things are changing, and I’m happy to be part of this change!
And what are some of the best things?
One of the best things is to know that whatever I do today, would be relevant to change something in someone else’s life. The certainty that I’m part of a career that will help change how things will work in the future is rewarding on so many levels!
Take us back to that day you decided you wanted to study Web Development – what was driving you?
When I finished my degree, I still didn’t have the practical experience, and, at the same time, I felt the difficulty of entering the field of Architecture, which was mostly composed of upper-middle-class white men and women. I decided, therefore, at a certain point to change the course of my career and chose to learn another profession. I would very much like to do something that could impact other people’s lives, so I decided to take a 3-month intensive course in programming while working part-time at the Cafe and cleaning gigs. It was a difficult decision, one of the most daring of my life. This not only took me out of my comfort zone, but it also helped me to grow personally and professionally.
Why did you choose to study at Spiced? What made the course stand out?
I was looking for ways to guide and help me speed up the process of learning how to code, when I found A lot of options but the costs to me were not accessible at all earning less then a minimum wage! When I found out about Spiced, it was relatively new and they had just made a partnership with the government to be part of the Bildungsgutschein therefore giving access to this career change opportunity paid by the German State with the promise of helping people get a fulfilling and better paid job for free. This for me was a game changer for sure!
What was the most challenging aspect of the course?
The most challenging part was to understand all the concepts in just 3 month. I Guess it worked in my favor as I always thought of improving my skills on the side. Ah, also english not being my mother language, and being introduced to new vocabulary all at once, it was a hard but very important process. Together with my fellow latin’s we used to say: “Un Latino a Menos en la Cocina!” – That means “One less Latino person in the (working in) kitchen” to help us keep up on learning.
What was your favourite aspect of the course?
My favorite part was working on the final project together with my peers, the vibe, energy, stress and the joy was definitely REAL!
Do you have any insights for anyone thinking to take the leap and study Web Development?
Don’t wait, just do it! I really think nowadays this is a skill that you won’t regret learning even if you decide it isn’t for you. After the pandemic there’s no really coming back to analog times, you will still be relevant in any career if you know your way around a software or simply the web.
What would your number 1 tip be for someone who is about to hit the job market as a web developer?
Practice, practice, build build, go back to fundamentals! Go back to Computer Science fundamentals whenever you can, it will help you mostly with the impostor syndrome.
Many people are currently working remotely, how are you finding that? What are your tips and tricks to stay focused, productive and in a good mood?
I would say to find a scheduled routine that works for you! It is hard, but not impossible. Something that really helps me is to pair programming with my colleagues from time to time on Zoom or any other platform.
Thanks again for your time! Any last comments?
Thank you for the invitation. <3