Working in tech (and digging deeper into the developer’s role) seems like a very attractive opportunity, but many people may be reluctant to try it initially. The story of Mantė Gasiūnė has exactly the same beginning. This female professional spent many years in the financial sector before turning to a way more tech-related role.
She admits that the kickstart of her tech career was quite challenging, but her willingness to learn combined with the support in her workplace brought desired results eventually. Mantė has spent a few years at Adform, one of the leading advertising technology companies worldwide, and continues working there even after her big career change.
Read the interview below to find out more about how to make the most of internal opportunities as well as how to gain the skills necessary in a highly technical role on your own!
Mante, you’ve been working in a different field for a while. Tell us about your previous experience and what led you to a thought of switching to tech.
I was studying Logistics and realised that this field is not right for me around my 2nd year. As Economics was a big part of my study programme, I decided to try myself in finance. So my career began in the Operations department at Danske Bank where I worked for over a year. Then, I decided to apply for a Platform Billing Specialist position in Adform. Ended up spending around 3 years there! I cannot say that I wasn’t happy while working in Billing. My team was great, and I had many opportunities for growth. The latter is probably the main reason why I stayed there for so long.
However, knowing my exact goals is a priority to me. For a long time it was all about being promoted in Billing, but then I asked myself: what’s next? And I realised that I couldn’t see my future in Finance. It wasn’t hard to understand where to go as I was considering becoming a developer since my graduation, yet never had enough courage to do that.
What was this exceptional element of the tech world which made it so appealing to you?
That it’s always changing, evolving, improving. I simply knew that it was a field where you never get bored!
When did you make your final decision and how did you feel about it?
I made my final decision last autumn, shortly after the realisation that I couldn’t see myself in Finance. Given tech was in my mind for years, I basically gave an ultimatum for myself: either I try it now or forget this thought. I know it’s harsh but sometimes you have to push yourself. The good news is that it worked!
However, it was really challenging both emotionally and physically. For so many years, I avoided this decision because I was so scared to start everything from scratch. I already had a job where I was doing great, I had a lot of knowledge. And now I was thinking about shifting to the field where I knew nothing. Of course it was scary. On top of that, I knew that I’d have to spend most of my free time learning about this new field.
Tell us more about the overall process of changing your career to a completely new one.
So last Autumn, when I decided to start my new path, I built a thorough plan: to find a field I was interested in, to finish some relevant courses, and then find an internship which would lead to the new job.
For many years I thought about becoming a back-end developer, but at that time I realized that front-end seems more interesting to me. So I finished some Coursera courses on the Front-end basics to see if I liked it. Because I really did, I decided to apply to the CodeAcademy course on the Full stack programming basics which started in November last year. I finished this course in 3 months and continued learning independently: felt that there’s still some way to go until I’d be ready for the job hunt. This learning process took a lot of my spare time. There were days when it was really hard to sit in front of my laptop watching tutorials, reading and doing exercises after working 8 hours a day.
At some point I understood that I couldn’t learn it all and it would be easier to gain practical knowledge through getting real developing experience. I knew I wasn’t ready for a job yet, so decided to start from an internship. In Adform we have this great opportunity to go to internships with other teams which we are interested in. I think that having such an opportunity was one of the reasons I decided to start my new career path. The scariest thing while looking for a job in a new field is not being confident at all with the knowledge you have. Meanwhile, I had a great chance to get some relevant experience internally.
So in July-September I spent my days in one of the front-end developer teams at Adform. I was working on new projects and completing other daily tasks with the help of my senior colleagues. The only bad thing was knowing that there were no open positions at that moment. It meant that after my internship I’ll have to go back to the Billing team. But I got lucky there: during the last days of my internship, my team manager informed me that there was an open position in another front-end team which was happy to hire me. I took that offer immediately!
So it took me a year to change my career completely. I know I still have a lot to learn but I feel that I’m on the right path. I’m grateful for the support from my colleagues and managers across both Billing and Front-end teams during this period. I wouldn’t have gone so far without them.
What are your current responsibilities in this new role?
I’m a Junior Software Engineer. Together with my team, I’m working on both existing and new software solutions development as well as collaborating with product management, UX designers and other software engineers every day.
Which parts of your current job excite you the most?
I’m really excited to have so much room for creativity and improvement. Being a developer is all about constant problem solving and finding a way to make something work as it should. For me, new tasks usually mean solving the problem for the first time while learning new things. But even when you’re doing something similar as before you have a chance to look into the problem from a different perspective and challenge yourself to do it better and in a new way.
I believe that all skills we get from previous working experiences can be reused. Even though I changed my position from Finance to Tech, I’m still working in the same company, and I find having Adform products related knowledge really beneficial.
What helped you the most when overcoming the challenges of changing your career path?
Understanding that you can’t become good at something completely new overnight. The most challenging thing is not knowing that you’ll have to learn a lot, but letting yourself take time and do it all at your own pace.
To anyone out there wondering if they should change their career path: if you cannot get this idea out of your mind, you should definitely try. It may seem scarier and more challenging than it really is. Especially when you meet so many people willing to help on your way!