New career goals at 40 – Jolita’s journey to IT

Not everyone is up for drastically changing their career paths. However, those who are brave, determined and eager take this challenge on even after several successful decades spent in a different industry. Not only that, they chose a career that is entirely foreign and requires very particular skills.

Such is the path to the technology sector that Jolita Petruseviciute took, after spending the past few decades in architecture, interior and building project design. Towards the end of her 40th, Jurgita thought about starting a new career. Today she works as an app programmer and is glad that her growing sons are no less interested in new technologies than their new specialist mother.

Jolita recalls that „in 1997, when I graduated school, there was not much information about the technology sector. But even back then I had one classmate who chose to go into IT and has been there for over 20 years now. I turned to architecture.”

After obtaining a Bachelor’s in architecture, Jolita spent many years in this industry. Right after her studies she started working in the Dominican Republic, later, upon returning to Lithuania, took on marketing, interior design, shopping centre and building architecture jobs. To Jolita, these couple decades still bring a lot of joy.

„Finally I decided to take a break in my career. I am raising two sons, so I wanted to spend more time with them, and to dedicate more time to my hobby – photography. It’s then that I started shyly consider whether I should make some changes, maybe I should learn something new?” – she looks back on that fateful time.

Lead by her curiosity Jolita quickly realised that the area she’s most attracted to is IT. She says that “I’ve always been attracted to technologies, and recently I noticed the increasing amount of information available about the IT industry, and the severe lack of specialists.”

She chose to attend UI/UX design in Baltic technology institute – “I really enjoyed this – it was a job in a completely different, virtual, environment, yet at the same time it felt so familiar to me. With that I still continued to feel that this was still not exactly what I was looking for. Perhaps it was too familiar, I wanted to learn something completely new. However, it so happened that I returned to interior design. But my mind was already changed and I knew that I had to make it happen.”

Jolita, raising two elementary school boys in a time of quarantine, stopped her job so that she could dedicate most of her time to the kids’ virtual education. “I once again had a reason to read and discover more about the IT industry, and I noticed an invitation to participate in the “Women Go Tech” programme, which encourages retraining to a different, technology-oriented, career. This is where I met my mentor Alius Petraska, who gave me more support and motivation. I understood that there were many opportunities to find an occupation I liked within the IT industry.”

Soon enough Jolita joined an academy created by a Netherlands’ IT company “Macaw”, then accepted an offer for an internship and is now on her second month working as an app programmer for them – “This is a big personal achievement” Jolita says.

Jolita smiles „Today many people are surprised when they find out what my interests are and what I do. I am no longer a 20 or 30-something, which usually causes a bigger surprise, and, naturally, more support for ‘being so brave for my age’ for taking on such a challenge.”

She admits to having doubts in the past regarding her career choices – as there was a prevalent opinion that programming is for men. She says that “nowadays this tendency is changing rapidly, the concept of what’s possible in IT is expanding and there are many various initiatives for women like “Discover Tech” and so on, to encourage them.” Jolita also adds that she frequently talks to her friends, encouraging them to try the IT industry.

„By the way, I am raising two boys, an 11 and a 9-year old, who are very interested in technologies, much like all other kids of their age, so I am happy that I’m able to talk about it with them. I am a modern mother ‘in the know’.” – laughs the beginner programmer. “Of course, there is still a lot to learn, but I am very motivated and I can’t wait for new projects!”