By September 12, 2022

Are you thinking about a career in IT?

In TDPath series I'm asking my colleagues about their first work experience, education, and widely understood career, read this article and get some inspirations!
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Are you thinking about starting a career in IT but have no idea where to start? 

At TDSOFT, everyone has a different story, and they are all equally valuable and inspiring. While there is no single path you must follow to succeed in IT, it is worth exploring all the possible options.

What would our employees advise those at the beginning of their careers?

Hi, I’m Kaja - Marketing Executive, and I want to introduce our new series - TDpath, in which I will ask my colleagues about their first work experience, education, and widely understood career..

This is Gregory, who has been with us at TDSOFT for over a year now, and before that, he was planning a career in food services. What did his career change look like?

When did you decide to become a programmer? 

  • Two years ago, I wanted to change my line of work. I had previously worked in catering, but it did not satisfy me. I was looking for a profession in which I could constantly develop. After thinking about it, watching videos, and reading articles, I decided that programming was the right choice.

What's next? How did you learn programming?

  • I started looking for a course, the first one I bought was costly, but the quality was poor. I didn't know that at the time because I had no experience, but now I see it. I found an ad that said it would be easy to find a job after this course, which was exactly what I wanted, so I gave it a try. However, I found the process quite frustrating, after five months of the course, I was so resigned that I dropped out for a while. In the meantime, after watching some materials, I realized I wanted to do frontend. At that time, there were courses on Udemy and FrontendMasters. Meanwhile, I was looking for development opportunities and valuable information to learn.

What was your first job in this profession like?

  • After a year of learning about frontend, I started looking for an internship. I was looking for any kind of training so that I could get my first experience. I sent CVs wherever I could, to places all over Poland. I did not get a response for a long time. I got my first internship as a programmer at TDSOFT. After a few months, I had an interview, thanks to which I managed to get a traineeship and then a job.

What would you recommend to people who want to work in this position as you do?

  • I know it's possible to work in this profession without a degree, I'm doing it myself, but if I were 16 again, I would go to college to get the kind of information I’m still lacking. But the most important thing I've also learned from my history is to gain skills in practice. A milestone in my development was when I joined TDSOFT, I started talking to the guys in the company, and they advised me on what to learn, what to master, and which books to read. Being able to ask questions is extremely helpful. It is much better to sign up for internships, even free ones, instead of studying at home, where you don't even know what mistakes you are making and how you can fix them.

  • I would also recommend being patient with the learning process, especially if you are starting from scratch. It is definitely not easy at first, especially if, as in my case, you are simultaneously working full-time. You need to slowly but steadily expand your knowledge and at the right moment sign up for an internship otherwise, you won’t develop. I think it is impossible to learn everything at home.

Thank you, Gregory, for sharing your story. Are there any among you who have completely changed their career path?

Today I would like to introduce you to Adam - a Junior Frontend Developer for whom working at TDsoft is the first professional experience of his career as a programmer. 

Did you know that it is possible to learn programming entirely for free? 

Have you always known what you want to do?

  • I decided fairly early on that programming would be a part of my life. While still studying chemistry, I started exploring programming languages, and as a hobby, I had fun making all sorts of robots, which I also programmed. But my studies lasted five years, so I think that's quite a long period to try different things. At the end of my studies, I thought about switching to programming as my main job, and as I was working in a lab right after graduation, I decided to change my career path over time and studied every day to get there.

What was your education like as a programmer?

  • At first, I watched some courses on YouTube, everything for free, just to get an understanding of how it looks like, tutorials, guides, then I started looking for documentation and doing my own projects. I heard that the best way to develop is to encounter problems and solve them. This is an essential aspect of programming, you need to know how to find information, and to do this, you need to start doing your own projects to encounter these problems and learn how to look for information. You need to develop this ability to search and solve problems, which can only be done through practice. 

  • My education when it comes to programming cost exactly 0 PLN. The Internet is so vast and programmers are famous for being very open when it comes to information. There are a lot of open tools and I think you don't have to spend any money at all to learn programming, especially in the area I trained in. 

How do you assess your studies in retrospect? A valuable experience or a waste of time?

  • I don't think this time was wasted because science subjects like chemistry, physics, and biology teach you how the world works. This is knowledge that is just good to have. But when it comes to what I'm doing now, chemistry is completely useless to me, if I had to choose again I wouldn't go to college at all,or I would just choose a course of studies related to computer science. 

What was your first job as a programmer?

  • This is my first job in programming. I started with a trial period that lasted three months and ended yesterday, so I am now officially a TDSOFT employee;)

What advice would you give to someone who wants to work in the same position in the future?

  • People are often afraid to make mistakes. But as you make these mistakes, you see the consequences, and it's easier to understand why you do some things this way and others another way. I also found it hard to start creating certain applications because I was afraid I would do it wrong, which is a valuable lesson. 

  • I also think that you don’t have to program too much, to force yourself to learn for 6 hours a day. Of course, when I was learning, I had days when I had a flow, but there were also days when I just spent an hour. Don’t force yourself because you can quickly burn yourself out. Especially if someone wants to change their career path and is combining it with another job, it's the fastest way to burn out. You can treat it like a workout, where you shouldn't take too many breaks, but doing it too often will also be harmful.

How do you assess your career change?

  • It was a great idea. Before, when I worked in the lab, I had fixed working hours and zero flexibility. Here, not only am I better off with what I'm doing now, but I feel I'm developing much more. I appreciate that I can go, to another city for a week, work remotely, and choose the type of contract that suits me. I'm delighted and feel that it will improve with time.

What do you think about the paid courses you took during your programming education? Were they valuable? Would you, like Adam, choose to learn on your own if you could return in time?

Thanks for telling us about your experience Adam!

The next person I had the pleasure of talking to was Krzysztof Smakowski – Business Development Manager.

Have you always known where you want to work? 

  • Not at all, I’m in the position I’m at right now because I was searching, I was proactive and open-minded. When you have this approach, things happen on their own, one event leads to the next and then the next, leading to great results in the end. For more than half of my studies, I was searching, and it certainly gave me a lot. I had no idea at the beginning what I wanted to do.

What did you study? How do you assess this experience from the perspective of your current job?

  • I hesitated between law and computer science, eventually choosing the latter and the music academy. I believe that university was a valuable stage in life, and I recommend it, but on the condition that you first decide what exactly you want to get out of it. As a student, you have many opportunities and can find the most valuable ones outside classes. I highly encourage you to take advantage of them, join study circles, attend workshops and lectures. I was never a good student because I didn't want to be one, preferring to get the most out of all the extra things my studies opened the door to.

What was your first work experience?

  • I worked continuously throughout my studies, so I had a chance to immediately test and verify in practice a lot of things I learned about, it was extremely useful. I worked as an office manager, did an internship in marketing and sales support. In addition, I worked as a programmer, which was fortunate, because that's when I discovered that this is entirely not for me, even though I studied computer science! Later on, I worked at the product development department of a large corporation and then at TDSOFT. I consider all these experiences to be precious. In each job I learned something different, I had the opportunity to verify the knowledge I acquired at university.

What would you recommend to people who want to work in a similar position to yours?

  • First of all, a healthy balance between studies and other things, it's important to remember that your value is not determined by the grades you get, and sometimes it's worth sacrificing better performance in exchange for gaining practical knowledge. Take advantage of all the opportunities you get to acquire it, even for free. Be sure to get involved in study circles, the student council, and create initiatives connected with these things, along with other people. 

Krzysztof’s experience and advice are very inspiring for us. Thank you for sharing it!

Are you interested in our job offers?

I would like to introduce you to Wojtek, who started his career with mountain climbing and studying English Philology and has now been working at TDSOFT as a Frontend Developer for a year. 

Did you know from the beginning that you wanted to work as a programmer?

  • Definitely not. My first idea was to make a living from mountain climbing, but I realized that only the top climbers could manage this, and I had to find an alternative. The other option was programming. I was interested in it since childhood, I wrote simple programs for games, but throughout my years of education, I treated it rather as a hobby and entertainment. It was not until sometime after graduation that I decided to start educating myself in this direction, having not planned it at all before.

What, then, did you study, and how do you look back on this stage in your life?

  • I studied English Philology. I know it may sound completely disconnected from what I'm doing now, but this course of studies had its advantages. All the programming courses I took later, and now at work the coding, documentation, contact with clients, absolutely everything is done in English. I do not have a language barrier, English in the work of a programmer is essential. Of course, I can't say that I found everything I did in college useful, there were plenty of things I don't even remember, and the language they taught was often too formal to use daily. Nevertheless, it was an ideal basis for further study and an excuse to surround myself with English and to feel more confident using it.

How did you go about learning programming?

  • I started with courses. Once I more or less figured out the basics, I started looking for the first simple assignments to practice using the knowledge I had gained, as courses alone are definitely not enough. In the meantime, I read many books, although they definitely cannot be the basis of learning. To keep up to date, you must buy new editions constantly. The next step was documentation, there was a whole bunch of it, even to this day, and I guess it will never end;)

  • As for learning with courses, I can recommend three websites that I regularly used and still use: Udemy, which I think everyone knows, Frontend Masters, and Codecademy - not a course but rather interactive lessons, which I highly recommend because I believe that just watching videos doesn't help much. If you don't write something yourself, you don't know anything.

What would you recommend to people who want to become Frontend Developers like you?

  • Write a lot of your code. Even if it will be poor quality, as long as it works then that is already the first success, because as I mentioned if you do not write something yourself then you don’t know how to do it. As you start writing you will notice errors you have not heard of before. Coding is the key, do as much of it as possible. In the beginning, I wouldn't focus on the fact that the code has to be perfect, because it won't be, so I'd recommend quantity rather than quality. When a beginner comes to the company, it is definitely easier to teach them quality, as they already understand the logic and know how to solve problems. If you have an inner feeling that you know how to write something, it will be much easier for you, and during code review, someone will point out any errors you may have made. But if you don’t know how to write it to make it work, then there will be no code review because it’s not complete.

  • The other essential thing is a good command of English. If you know the language poorly and want to become a programmer then I would recommend just starting with learning English, or doing it as you learn to code, because without English you won’t be able to do it.

And what can you suggest when it comes to getting your first job? How can someone stand out with their CV if they don't have much experience?

  • I would recommend preparing a portfolio. If you don't have any commercial experience, then your primary asset and the only ace up your sleeve is a good portfolio. This leads back to coding, which I've mentioned several times before, but it's essential. If you code a lot, have a lot of projects, then choose the best ones for your portfolio, the most original ones – this is crucial, don't show what everyone else does, because you won't stand out. A portfolio is proof of your skills and is of far greater value than just a list of competencies or courses you have completed.

Thanks for sharing your story, Wojtek!

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