Rūta’s wishes to her fellow 50-year olds: if you want it enough, you can become an IT specialist yourself

Time for change was brewing in the home of Kaunas’ resident Rūta Raubienė – her three daughters were getting ready for their state exams and she decided to change careers after nearly 20 years in the textile industry. “I have a great job, long-term experience and suddenly, as I turn 50, I get a hankering for IT – probably sounds a little whacky”, – laughs Rūta. However, a year has passed since she first had this thought and the woman has already joined the ranks of IT specialists. Hoping to encourage other women, particularly those in her age bracket, Rūta highlights that curiosity and strong desire beats all doubts.

“I probably had the best working conditions someone within the textile industry could hope for. I am sure that no one expected me to leave it all behind – where could I go? Meanwhile, I felt an immense desire for freedom and change.”, – Rūta recounts her very recent steps into the IT sector.

In 1994 Rūta graduated with a degree in textile technologies and received her first job offer, from a Scandinavian company which was starting their operations in Lithuania. After nearly 20 years had passed and she was still busy at work in the industry, looking after various processes, quality and leadership. “It was an absolutely invaluable experience and an interesting, dynamic working environment. It’s during my work there that we raised our children. Then the pandemic came and brought business challenges with it, reducing my working hours to mere three days per week. I did not panic, however, since our expenses also reduced because of the pandemic, and I had more free time. After all, I am getting on in my years! I thought that everything was alright, but I couldn’t silence the inner voice that kept telling me to use this opportunity to make changes”, – Rūta recalls.

Rūta highlights that she was always interested in the particulars of various processes. That is also what led her to start paying attention to the increasing presence of the topic of re-training to IT on social media. “One Sunday, as I was having my cup of coffee, I noticed the announcement that it was the last day to register to a programme called ‘Discover Tech’ (Atrask Technologijas). The programme was set to introduce women to various career opportunities within the tech sector. Long story short – my coffee got cold because I was too busy submitting my registration and I soon found myself there, where I discovered my interest in IT.”, – said Rūta.

She remembers admiring a professor she saw during the programme – “She worked in IT, but was of a similar age as myself. I said to myself ‘What’s the worst that can happen? and decided to try it out. After all, if that fails, I still have my experience in a different field to fall back on.”

After completing quality assurance and project management courses on her own, she joined “Women Go Tech” mentorship programme, which helps women achieve their goals within the tech sector. “I thought that if the programme organisers will think that I won’t make it in IT they’ll reject me – instead I received an email saying that I’ve been accepted to the programme. I was really hoping that wasn’t a joke!”, – Rūta laughs.

Rūta is not shy to admit that she lacked self-confidence for a long time. After receiving the opportunity to join the tech sector with the help of her mentor she set goals and really worked hard to achieve them. Nevertheless, the finish line – a job in IT – seemed unreachable still.

“I remember telling my mentor that I had nothing to put on my CV – after all, I had no actual job experience with IT. The mentor questioned that – asked if we used IT at my current workplace. Yes, of course! When we were implementing it I tested it and gave suggestions for improvements. I would have never looked at it this way – turns out I already had some experience! That was a much-needed breath of self-confidence.”, – Rūta says.

“I received a lot of support from my husband and my daughters. My daughters were getting ready for their state exams, everything at home was topsy turvy. That being said, I did not encounter one person who would tell me that I was crazy.” she laughs. Finally, after submitting her CV to an open position in the IT department of Forest Council, she received the long-awaited job offer.

“I was offered to work not only in testing but also as an analyst – this combination works extremely well with my inquisitive nature. Not to mention that working for a government agency, being able to contribute to the wellbeing of Lithuania is a real dream come true. I joined a very friendly and kind environment – I feel the support of both the leadership and my peers. New experience and consistent thirst for knowledge give me the immense joy of making new discoveries!”, – Rūta recounts her recent venture into the tech sector.

“I like challenges, but this has been one of the most extreme ones. Then again, if you really think about it – what did I have to lose? When you decide that you want something, but continue to think that it’s too scary or that you’re incapable – I’d recommend searching deep in your mind for the possibility that maybe you don’t want it enough? I firmly believe that we can achieve anything as long as we give it our all, and later receive support from industry professionals. That’s what I want to wish to everyone like me.” – Rūta finishes.