Yuliia’s Journey in Tech

by | Jan 23, 2024 | Vodcast | 0 comments

Women in Tech Alliance spoke with Yuliia Panchuk, a software developer at Playtech, about her incredible journey pivoting into software development and successfully getting multiple job offers in Sweden. She does not only work as a software developer but also offers her contribution to society through her volunteering work at the Google Developer Group Malmö and Women Techmakers.

Interviewer: Firstly, I’d like to express my gratitude on behalf of Women in Tech Alliance. We’re thrilled to share your story with our readers who are considering a career transition to the tech industry.
Yuliia: It’s my pleasure to be here.

Interviewer: Could you tell us about your journey to becoming a software developer?
Yuliia: Absolutely! In fact, it’s quite a long story. I’m from Ukraine and I moved to Poland when I was 17. I studied English philology at Wyższa Szkoła Społeczno-Przyrodnicza im. Wincentego Pola. During my graduate years, I got a job as a customer service agent at Flyflex in Poland. At that time, I met my boyfriend and then I decided to move to Sweden.
It meant I had to start everything all over again in a new country. In the beginning, I did not know which career path I wanted to take. However, I knew that customer support was not a field where I wanted to be and grow professionally. Therefore, I focused on studying and testing the waters during the first two years. I completed courses on Corporate Social Responsibility and Strategic Human Resource Management at Kristianstad University. On
top of that, I did Programming in C# at Malmö University and Structured Programming with C ++ at Linnaeus University.
Eventually, I understood that I wanted to go deeper into software development. That’s why I went to a bootcamp, FooCoding. It was an intensive six-month programming course where you go to the class once a week and study independently the rest of the time. During the bootcamp, I luckily got an internship and I completed both at the same time. Then it was time to roll up my sleeves and look for full-time jobs. Through continued hard work and commitment, I received three job offers but I chose the company where I was most interested in working.

Interviewer: It’s such an inspiring journey you had! Could you elaborate on the process of learning how to code? You went to a bootcamp and did an internship. What else did you do to improve your programming skills?
Yuliia: Well, I did not know where I needed to start. In the bootcamp, I was expected to concentrate on learning how to code in the classroom. But, then I realized that I had to show what I could do to recruiters and potential employers. Thus, at the end of the bootcamp, I began to work on my own projects which was going to be my showcase. One of my two projects was a to-do app. I remember when I finished the project and published it on LinkedIn. I saw that people have tried and tested my app so many times. They went crazy with it! For instance, they’ve been changing the colors, adding something completely new and deleting certain parts. It was indeed exciting!

Interviewer: I believe that some might feel overwhelmed or not know what type of projects they should work on. Do you have any advice on choosing a project that could become our showcase to recruiters and potential employers?
Yuliia: For those who are just starting, I’d highly recommend starting with something very small. If you start with something big from the beginning, you might get stuck and feel demotivated. Take baby steps. The key is to see and show your progress. Then, I’d recommend starting something that you are passionate about. In my case, I did something that would be useful for me – the to-do app.

Interviewer: Let’s say I’m working on my project and got stuck. Where can I get help and fix the bug in my program?
Yuliia: Right. You can use Stack Overflow, a question-and-answer website for programmers. In addition, I’d highly recommend using LinkedIn because you can just upload your project on LinkedIn and make a post saying “Hey, guys! I’m transitioning to software development and I’ve started a project. Therefore, I’m looking for someone who I can contact in case I have questions related to software development.” Perhaps, you could set a time with that person once a week and have a quick call. You would be surprised how many people are willing to help. Unless you ask you would never know.

Interviewer: I guess we need to be open and have the courage to ask for help. Is there any community of programmers in Malmö or in the Skåne region?
Yuliia: Well, since I’m part of the Google Developer Group, you can contact us and ask for events where junior and senior developers can bring their projects and help each other. I’m a junior developer, but if I will not be able to help you, then there will be five other developers who will gladly help you with your project.

Interviewer: In your opinion, what’s the best way to find an internship?
Yuliia: You can only get a job or an internship if you talk about it. So, I’d say write to the companies no matter if they’re hiring or not. At the same time, you should attend events and talk to recruiters that you’re looking for an internship. Also, don’t forget to show that you are eager to learn and can be helpful to their team. In a nutshell, it’s all about networking, I would say.

Interviewer: What would you say is the most challenging part of getting a job in Sweden?
Yuliia: I know that if you’re not from Sweden, it’s likely to be harder for you. I guess it’s common in every country. As I mentioned before, it’s all about networking because people can recommend you for the role you’re aiming for.
It also depends on your background. If you have no work experience in coding but have a bachelor’s degree and had an internship then it’s easier for you to get a job. If you’re a self-thought programmer or only went to a bootcamp, then you certainly need to showcase that you’re capable of coding. Will you hire someone who doesn’t have anything to show but says I can code? Probably, not. Create and publish your project on LinkedIn so people can see and notice you. Don’t just sit there. Put in the work!

Interviewer: Do we have to be the best programmer or is it enough to be just a good programmer?
Yuliia: It boils down to what is best for you. From my past experience, I’ve learned that I shouldn’t compare myself to others because everyone’s journey is different and unique. It’s absurd to compare two programmers who had completely different education and background. I’d say don’t compare yourself with others just do “your best” and it’s not mandatory to be “the best”.

Interviewer: I love your advice! If you could go back in time when you just moved to Sweden, what would you do differently?
Yuliia: Nothing. I do believe that I am here because of all the things I went through. I would have wanted to start studying immediately but then I wouldn’t go through that journey and would miss the life-long lesson.

Interviewer: Where do you see yourself in three to five years?
Yuliia: I have a straightforward plan for where I want to be in five years. I don’t know how it might change in the future. But as of today, I want to focus on becoming a good developer and then work in the management field. It could be a product manager, product owner, or developer relations.

Interviewer: You said that you were pretty active on LinkedIn by sharing your projects, making posts about the events you attended and earning badges. What other strategies we could take to become more visible on LinkedIn?
Yuliia: I’d say that you need connections. The rationale is if you have four or five connections on LinkedIn, then sharing a post or project won’t make you noticed. That’s why I highly recommend connecting with people you meet at events you’re attending. Once you have at least a few hundred people on your LinkedIn, then you will be seen by people who live in your city, work in your industry and companies you’re interested in. In short, expand your LinkedIn Network

Interviewer: If our readers wish to get in touch with you, how they can reach you?
Yuliia: Yeah, sure. I’m always available on LinkedIn. You’re likely to meet me if you come to events organized by the Google Developers Group Malmö. In fact, we’re going to have events on January 25 and February 15, 2024. The first event is called “Unlocking the power of GCP: a kickstart for developers into the Could”. It is a workshop that will offer a hands-on initiation into limitless possibilities of the Google Cloud Platform. The second one is going to be with a focus on creating accessible experiences to empower all with inclusive and innovative approaches. This year, we’re going to have so many events. For example, I’m going to organize an event where I’ll give a talk on how to get into IT for immigrants in Sweden.

Interviewer: That sounds fantastic. I’m looking forward to attending all your events. We are about to conclude our interview. Is there anything you’d like to say for young girls and women who are considering a career in tech?
Yuliia: Yes, I actually do. I hear so many people saying it’s impossible, you need dedication or you need to study to get a job. Yes, you do need to study but everything is possible. Never listen to people who are saying you cannot do it. If I could do it, then anyone else can do it. It’s not as horrifying as it sounds. So, never give up and just believe in yourself. You can do anything you aspire to do.

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