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Luísa Nogueira
Luísa Nogueira

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My journey from a law graduate to a junior software developer in Vienna

I moved to Vienna two years ago and if I compare my life from two years ago to nowadays, I still surprise myself a little bit about how much things have changed. The Luísa from two years ago got her master’s degree in Law, was working with marketing and decided to switch careers. At this point in time I had finished some online courses and built a website with what I had learned of HTML, CSS and JavaScript, but was not ready to work as a developer. I, of course, knew that the job market was really thriving for software developers and that it’s possible to work as developer even knowing that I didn’t graduate in computer science. However, I still doubted myself.

Nonetheless, I decided to pursue this new career anyway. What did I have to lose, except time? Not even time, because as my mom always said, time is never lost if we use it to learn something. I also wanted to move to another country, because as much I love Portugal and had great experiences there, I was not having much luck to find work in Lisbon and, more importantly, I wanted new experiences elsewhere. So, I moved to Vienna with my partner fulltime!

Right after I moved here, I started an intensive bootcamp of four months, which covered the basics of different languages and other important aspects of programming, such as databases, version control systems (GitHub) and so on. I wanted to have something that pushed me to focus completely on the learning and practicing. After this bootcamp, I searched for developer jobs during a month in Vienna and got one, as front-end developer!

Each developer has their own journey, but something that motivated and inspired me a lot to pursue this area was to read about other people that also came from a different background and managed to work as programmers. After a year and a half working in an IT company as front-end developer who dealt with a little bit of everything, from code improvement and bug fixing to mobile apps development, I want to help inspire other people, especially women.

I needed to dedicate a lot of time during the bootcamp to solve most of the exercises and understand what we were learning each week. A positive point of doing a bootcamp is that we had pair programming activities every day, so my peer of the day not only helped me improve my own code practices but also help me engage more to the activity. If you only code alone, you may think you will finish tasks faster, but the truth is that every developer needs to seek help from a colleague, or have a peer review their code sometimes, in order to improve. Of course, google is your best friend, always. This is actually something that I also learned working at a company, when my colleagues would help me on a task after I resorted to all other options and was still stuck, or when one or more of them would give me feedback after our sprints were over.

To summarize, if you are dedicated enough to learn programming on your own and follow online courses on your own time, without pair programming, and still engage a lot, great! But if that is the case, I suggest that you still communicate with other peers! Talk to friends who are developers, or to other peers in the online course that you are doing, most of them have some channel to discuss. Ask questions, participate, ask them to give feedback on your code and give feedback too.

Another important lesson is that you should not take rejections personally or negatively. While I was searching for jobs here, I realized that for some companies it mattered that I had not graduated in computer science, but for many it didn’t matter. As an entry level developer, I honestly thought it would take me longer to get something, but the fact is that I tried to always show on interviews that, what I still don’t know, I can surely learn with time and practice. If you are proactive and organized during your job search, you can definitely find something, even if it takes long.

That’s all for now! I hope my journey can inspire you to be a software developer, or to switch careers, even if this career is not the same as I chose.

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