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September 6, 2019

Role Models International: Start a career as a software developer

Agata Piekut by Agata

Serena Fernandes tells us her story as a software developer: beginnings in Brasil, moving to Ireland and tips for making it on your own.

How did you start working in IT, what’s your background?

This is a funny story. When the time came and I had to choose what I wanted to do for professional life I didn’t really know. I always wanted to do something that would change people’s lives and be part of something big.

Since I was a kid I always loved math (even though I wasn’t good at it LOL). It was always the subject I found most fascinating. I thought I wanted to be a Mathematician, but I was really not good at Math so no.

Then I started noticing that I had a particular talent for dealing with technology (computers, phones…). One of my cousins was almost finishing an IT course in college and after asking him about it, I decided “that’s what I’m going to do!”

Getting into the course wasn’t easy either! First of all, I was terrible at Math, and the word ‘algorithm’ was never part of my vocabulary. So you can imagine how adventurous my graduation was.

How did you get to this point in your career? A while ago you’ve relocated from Brasil to Ireland, could you please share the story? 🙂

When I got my first job as a software developer I was super excited, but I was always extremely insecure about everything I knew and constantly thinking I wasn’t good at it (impostor’s syndrome).

It was always hard to be inspired by someone because most role models were guys and I thought maybe IT (like many told me during my work/study life) wasn’t for women.

Before I even graduate, I was working in one of the companies that were a dream job for many of my colleagues. This was 2015, I was working there and I was still thinking ‘soon they’ll find out that they made a mistake hiring me, I’m not good at this’.

Luckily, the company’s culture was completely focused on diversity and empowering minorities. There, I learned that it was ok not to know stuff because you’ll get the chance to learn. I met so many incredible people. Was the place where I heard feminism for the first time. And where I heard a phrase that made my entire life change: “you can’t be, what you can’t see” – Marian Edelman said that.

I decided that I wanted to prevent other women to go through the same stuff I did. And I wanted them to have someone to look to and see that, you can do extraordinary things being ordinary! We paint people in our heads as unachievable when we read that someone did something cool or when you see that person works on that company you’d love to. So I decided that I would make myself a role model, to me and others.

I started to follow my heart on my decisions and to go where life led me to. I’ve been to a lot of companies, they all added a lot on what I am today and I made myself a sponge everywhere I went to.

I started to go to community events and started a community to support women that are interested in IT to grow and learn and find their own role models.

One day, the wheels of the universe spun and I a recruiter from Ireland contacted me on LinkedIn. I have to admit two things: I had no idea where Ireland was on the map and again I thought I would never get an opportunity like this because…’ I wasn’t good enough’.

After all the interview process I got the offer, still not believing that it was true, I accepted and moved to Ireland. Working at Neueda it’s being a life experience. So much has changed since I arrived but one thing I know for sure: it was the best decision I made in my life. Even though I was scared, I gave myself a chance to prove to myself that I was good enough, and here I am 15 months living in Ireland. I have a post on Medium telling about the interview process.

What’s one tip you’d like to get when you were starting?

Learn how you learn and share what you know. I’ve always struggled to learn things by myself and I didn’t know how was the best way for me to learn stuff. After a lot of observation, I understood my way of learning and the best way to learn is teaching so share your knowledge with others.

What are your favorite resources for learning online (courses, blogs etc.)?

I love tutorials and short courses. So I really recommend Udacity and Udemy, they have some really good courses. I also like doing CodeLabs and joining communities, I think is good to have people who can teach you something and share experience. I also love to participate on coding challenges on HackerRank and use LeetCode

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