Career transitionWomen in tech: My history of a career transition from finance into the tech area

You’ve probably read or heard the story of someone who went through such a daunting career transition process. This process took me a lot of courage and resilience, so that’s why I decided to tell my story, with the aim of perhaps inspiring and encouraging other women.

I started working when I was 14 years old, helping a seamstress who was my neighbor, where I managed to earn some change where most of it was used in my main passion until that moment, dancing. Time passed by and here I was, aged 18, already in another job, in a store, which was not very promising, but with the challenge of deciding which path to take professionally. I didn’t have so many choices, mainly for financial reasons, as I would have to pay for my own education and at the same time I would have to be sure, I should choose something where I could start working as soon as possible to continue supporting my studies.

My decision was to study business administration, as it was a very broad course where I pursue a career in different roles. It wasn’t exactly what I dreamed of, in fact, I had never asked myself what my dream was, but it seemed like the best choice at that time. Fortunately, I managed to have a relatively successful career in finance working for a bank for 7 years, getting promotions and progressing over time taking on different roles. However, that was not something that brought me happiness or satisfaction, in Brazil, the banking environment is something totally stressful and exhausting at the same time. I definitely needed to rethink my career, however, I was too afraid to take chances or start from scratch.

In 2019, my husband (still a boyfriend at the time) said that in his area, IT, we could have the opportunity to move to another country, as there was a high demand in the European market for these types of professionals. Our dream was to travel, get to know different cultures and people, so it seemed like an incredible opportunity, but I would have to give up my career. So in September 2018, my husband got an offer, and together we decided it was the right time to take a new path.

It was January 2019 and here I was, in a new country, with a different language, far from my family, without a job, and totally dependent on my husband, as I didn’t speak English, or Dutch. The magic of change lasted about a month, after that, the situation of dependency and not working bothered me a lot, but at the same time, I was optimistic about the opportunity to pursue a new career.

I am always very curious, and I love the idea of creating new things, solving problems with logic and I loved math. In addition, I had daily contact with my husband, who had been working as a developer for a few years, so I decided to try to delve deeper into the area to know and understand if it was something for me.

I started with a course in Python programming logic. Where I learned the basics about operators and functions. Until then, I couldn't get away with the idea of how those simple functions would solve real problems. But at the same time, I felt a huge satisfaction to get them to return the expected result, honestly, it was even a little addictive.

I made the decision to go even deeper, it was something I had enjoyed and at the same time, it was in very high demand in any market, besides being a flexible job and the opportunity for working remotely. Also, I had a chance to have a mentor, very close to me, which would make my journey a lot easier.

Where to start? This is a recurrent question we ask ourselves every day when we are solving a problem and the same happens when we are transitioning careers. The problem is, in IT, there are many ways to get started, plus we have several paths that can come up that lead to different results, I could be a developer interface, backend, full-stack, DBA, or something related to data analysis. It was very scary for me and having a mentor by my side was very valuable at that time. So I decided that I would go down the path to becoming a frontend developer, I think the main reason was, that it was much easier for me to see how I could apply what I was learning in a real scenario, besides being a very visual person and I might have a possibility of being a little closer to the user.

It’s not easy, but it’s not impossible either. One thing to keep in mind is that a career transition is not easy, a career transition to an IT one is even more difficult. When you understand how long the path you will have to travel is terrifying but satisfying with every step and achievement. One of the things I had no idea about in the IT field is the sense of community. Where people share knowledge, for free, with the sole purpose of helping other people. This for me was key, when I discovered the number of women who had gone through or were going through the same thing as me, I felt embraced and that the path I was taking was yes, possible.

After a long 2 years of a lot of dedication and a mixture of feelings of joy, anxiety, and some frustrations, I got my first internship as a full stack developer. And one of the things that I carry with me is if it wasn’t for the community and the inspiration of other people walking the same path, maybe I would have given up. So I’m writing this short text for you, who are currently thinking about making a career transition but don’t know how or where to start. The main tips I have for you are:

— Find a mentor: A person who can give you guidance on where or how to start.

— Get involved in the community: This made a lot of difference for me, participating in a community is listening and sharing daily struggles, projects, knowledge, and keeping up with the technology.

— Be resilient: It’s not going to be easy, you’re going to get a lot of “no’s”, some will say it’s not possible and you’ll feel lost sometimes.

— Be proud of yourself: people also have the courage to do what they are doing, so be proud, celebrate every little step, this is very important to keep firm and motivated on the journey.

And for you, who have already made it, who have already arrived there, share your story, especially if you are a woman or another minority group. We need to inspire other people and show that yes, it’s possible.

Flávia Ferri

Full-Stack Developer

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