From Physicist to Front-End Developer: Why Augė Decided to Leave Her Job in Laboratory

There’s a well-known fact that switching a career and starting everything from scratch is a complex decision that requires strong motivation. Yet, despite all the challenges, people still find the courage to do it. When you realize that you will probably never feel fulfilled and completely happy without changes, you have to take action and try new things.  

The story of Augė Zaveckaitė, currently the front-end developer at Vinted, one of the well-known companies and the first tech Unicorn in Lithuania, is the same. She tried various fields – from unqualified work to physics studies and a job at a laboratory. However, she still decided to switch her career path and become a developer. She agreed to share her story about how her journey toward the front-end developer career started and how she feels now.  

I am a front-end developer that is responsible for the WEB platform.

After some unqualified work during and after my studies, I started to work as a chemistry and microbiology laboratory technician. Basically, I was doing experiments and calculations, writing reports, etc. It was interesting when I started when everything was new, and I had to learn a bunch of things. But after a while, I noticed that chemistry and microbiology are quite fundamental and do not change that quickly, so I ended up doing the same things repeatedly, day after day. Some people love that, but I realized that I am not one of them.

When I was eighteen years old, I had to choose what I wanted to do for a career for the rest of my life. I had little support for this decision. I remember thinking about what I didn’t want to study or work with, and basically, I ended up choosing physics. It wasn’t a well-thought decision; it was more like “why not?”. 

Physics isn’t an easy field indeed, but quite interesting. The vibe in the faculty is strange but entertaining at the same time. My grades weren’t good, to say the least, and I had huge help from my group of close friends, so in the end, I managed to finish my studies.

With a bachelor’s degree, I couldn’t work in the science field, and I didn’t have any relevant work experience to work elsewhere. That’s how I decided to finish my master’s degree in physics; I thought that would give me more specific expertise and knowledge and help me further in the future.

I wasn’t happy with my work at a laboratory and decided to try something else. I’ve heard that quite a few people who finished physics switched their careers towards IT, which was encouraging. Also, programming courses were starting to become popular. As I had extra money for courses, time, and, most importantly, motivation, I decided to enroll in 6-week programming courses. First off, I decided to focus on the back-end. Still, apparently, that wasn’t my cup of tea, and for beginners, it was easier to find work in the front-end area, so after some time – an internship, another course – I switched to WEB development and stayed there.

It isn’t easy to start everything from scratch, especially when you’re a bit older. All other people in your environment are already achieving some goals in their career, getting promotions or salary raises, and you’re struggling to begin to understand what you’re trying to do. But what other choice did I have? To stay in the laboratory? I had to change something, tried coding, and wasn’t a complete failure there; plus, work in IT has a lot of benefits, so I was determined to learn it.

Like I said before, I knew that quite a few people with physics education switched to IT, and I think there’s a reason behind that. Physics doesn’t teach a chunk of information in a particular field. In physics, you learn how to search for information, how things are affected, and how to understand that. Physics teaches how to learn stuff.

IT was scary at first, as there’s a lot of information, and personally, I struggled to put it all in perspective; how am I going to make all this information work in day-to-day work.

The breakthrough for me was a front-end developers academy that I attended a while ago. At that time, I took any coding-related freelancing jobs that I could get – from making minor websites to updating existing ones. But, thanks to the developers’ academy, I started to understand how big IT companies work and how you, a lone developer, can contribute to a massive product. That’s when I knew that I was done with minor one-person projects, and I wanted to work in a team.

Later, I had to take a break from my studies, but I returned to another developers’ academy after some time. I learned a lot there; apparently, I showed potential, and they offered me a job. 

Starting everything from scratch and switching career paths is scary and, to say the least, uncomfortable. You know nothing; you understand nothing. It’s nice to work in a field where you feel like a fish in the sea; you are confident and brave. While switching careers, you lose all that. Every day you have to learn something new. And getting comfortable again takes time. 

The work is challenging, dynamic, and exciting – exactly what I was searching for. My career path is clear – from a junior developer to mid-level, senior, etc. Also, all I need is a computer, and I can work from anywhere, anytime, which takes the edge off, especially in these special world-changing times. IT companies usually take care of their employees; there are a lot of benefits. IT salaries also give you a huge plus by letting you live very comfortably.

It depends on which IT field you work in. The best part is you can choose what makes you happy.

Personally, I’m involved in coding and can provide my suggestions for new features our team is working on. My colleagues and I are always introduced to why we’re working on something, what the plans are, etc. We have an opportunity to share our ideas and give insights on how we can optimize a new feature or make it a bit more convenient. Hence, I must have at least a bit of critical thinking, communication skills, and the ability to see the bigger picture in this position. 

It helps that I genuinely care about our product, as I personally use it often.

You need to be patient with yourself, as becoming a developer takes time, especially when switching careers. You also need to be open to constant changes; as technologies change, new stuff constantly gets introduced in your day-to-day work, and you always have to learn new things.

Officially, if you read any article you can find about “what it takes to be a developer,” there are some particular qualities listed as a must to have if you want to be a developer. I would take that with a grain of salt because personally, I’m not a “standard” programmer – I am extraverted, messy, loud; I don’t read developer news articles in my free time or take side projects “just for fun” – but that doesn’t make me a lesser worker. Times are diverse, and developers are as well.

So my advice would be to be patient with yourself because learning new things takes time. Sometimes you lose motivation, forget why you started in the first place, and even think that this isn’t for you, you’ll never get it, etc.

If coding at least a tiny bit makes you happy and excited, try not to lose your path.