My Journey from BIT Admissions Test to First Project at an IT Firm and My Neglected Commitment to Nothing but Relaxation on Weekends
I’ve been interested in programming very patiently and persistently, and been learning very sincerely until it became my main occupation. Computer coding seemed like a tough nut to crack initially, yet later on I’ve managed to apply the gained knowledge to practice. It’s been six months since I’ve become a junior software developer at an international IT company and I finally feel like I’ve found my true calling. Allow me to tell you my twists and turns on this path.
My name is Laura, I’m 30, happily married and have a son. I was born in Klaipėda and stayed here ever since. I became fascinated with computer programming while studying at the university. Introduction to informatics course was all it took for me to experience this special feeling that I can create and program applications with the computer totally under my spell.
Sadly, the knowledge gained at the university did not reach too deep beyond a theoretical level so I decided to take myself further in this direction. I craved for something more tangible, substantial.
I embarked on this endeavor as soon as my maternity leave came to an end. Prior to this I worked in finance, however this pause made me decide to switch careers. At that time, I understood that partaking in the family business is not for me, never mind all the advantages it may grant. It’s just not me, period. I am a creative person and finance is the exact opposite of creativity, unlike programming. Although those who’ve never touched it might think otherwise, but please, hear me out.
Making It in IT Takes More Than Good Admission Test Scores
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I’d heard quite a bit about state subsidies for those reconsidering their professional specialization and yet it took me a while to gather the courage to actually apply. In my circle I’ve encountered heavy discouragement with points like: “you already have an education, family, a kid, and substantial number of years under the Sun”, “why on Earth would you need that? Studying at this stage in life is too selfish”. My answer to all this: Nope.
I decided to turn such thoughts around and started researching job offers. And the more I got into it, the clearer it became that I need to develop software. I simply must!
I decided to study and my choice was Baltic Institute of Technology. It appeared the most professional of all my candidates. I took the admissions test but did not give too much consideration for the scores I received. I am certain, that honest work and internal drive are above all and no tests evaluate these features.
Paying for It? Easy-peasy
I actually had to break a sweat of stress before my studies, and I did not anticipate that.
Luckily, a family friend knew his way around studying at BIT. He supported my idea and encouraged me to enroll. He also reassured my family. I registered at the Lithuanian Employment Service but the thing is, it did not propose any support for studies at that time. Every specialist working there kept insisting that I need to wait until various projects kick in. To hell with that.
Afraid of losing my spot, I decided to enlist to the course before the deadline. I was also constantly checking the info about the start of Employment Service’s projects. And finally, I got lucky! After six months I started my studies on a grant and also received a stipend. It felt like I hit the jackpot.
And there I was, a student once again. At the starting line – course of JavaScipt. I recall my first day very clearly. It was extremely weird to find myself behind a student desk once again. The staff at the institute kept insisting that learning here is going to be very difficult. It made me worried at first but a few weeks in I settled just fine. I realized that the initial part of the course was in fact very easy. Our first lecturer was Mr Gytis Žaltauskas, whom we found very charming from the get-go. His positivity and support built a special atmosphere and we all very soon became friends through an online chat where we shared ideas, emotions, stories, and funny memes.
During this course we’ve developed a few games. I suggest you try one of them yourself. I named it KIOSK. The idea behind it is to allow the players to gain money and see relevant statistics. This game is special to me because while creating it I got so absorbed that I neglected my own commitment to not work on weekends.
I had told to myself: ends of the week are dedicated exclusively to family and qualitative rest; therefore I used to spend the workdays as productively as possible. And now smiling ear to ear I confess, that KIOSK, previously nicknamed Money Generator, was the one and only instance I committed the ‘weekends off work’ offence. Give it a go!
Meanwhile a certain routine settled in my home life: in the mornings I used to take my son to the kindergarten, and off to BIT, where I used to spend until the evenings.
Two Initial Months Passed By
At this time the second part of the studies began – object-oriented programming. The lectures took place at an auditorium. This part felt like heaven. With understanding of OOP I stared seeing logic and structure in the code. Our teacher Gediminas Gricius was very professional and polite, lectured precisely, clearly and comprehensively. One live session was far more effective that hours of Youtube tutorials. Gediminas taught both parts – OOP and PHP.
The third part of the studies – PHP programming. The connection between front-end and back-end became obvious, insight into programing stared to appear. And then out of nowhere in the middle of learning PHP a lockdown hit us. It’s Corona time, bro.
This period became a serious challenge. The kindergartens were closed, my son had to learn online, household chores increased dramatically as I had to cook, be a mom, a wife and a student at the same time. In such conditions, having an opportunity to watch the courses at the time of my choosing was really a life saver. Quite obviously the only time available was in the evenings and until very late at times. Another promise to myself to do nothing but relax at the end of the day goes down the drain. Oh, well.
Time to Specialize
It dawned along with the fourth stage of our studies. An additional course of specialization .NET took place simultaneously with PHP. My colleagues and me were developing our practical assignment, blood donating system “Blood Bank”. Our teacher Julius Venskus was just exceptional. He proposed we take on an actual real-life project including sprints. To perform adequately we had to start very early on: with our instructor’s assistance we laid down the requirements, planned our work and assigned duties. We worked in sprints, elected a scrum master. We gave a shot working as a team, independently gathered online for discussions. But to be honest, the final months were definitely no picnic. Taking two courses while in a lockdown with a minor child at home? Believe me. I am eternally grateful to my family for their support.
Final exam? I only had two spare days to properly prepare. This was the moment when the hard work during studies actually paid off. I am very happy that at BIT I studied purposefully and systematically, had my notes, did all the homework. College-like trying to crunch the curse in last minutes was happily avoided. I remember the theory test of the exam with a bunch of questions and not enough time to get them right. However, the practical assignment was just a breeze. I’m sure that the best outcome is my knowledge, gained in full. And for my hard work I was rewarded with an even greater gift – my current job. Bull’s-eye!
My Work? Pure Pleasure!
I remember last summer, when life filled with freedom again and we were able to gather with our course mates to commemorate this joyous period in our lives. I am so grateful to have met such wonderful people among my colleagues and teachers. All of them are so different and yet such vibrant and interesting personalities. My sincere gratitude goes to BIT for bringing us together.
My professional life also sorted out perfectly. It’s been six months since I started as a junior software developer at an international IT company “Flinke Folk” specializing in IT solutions to gas and oil industry around the globe. My job entails performing task using C# OOP language on the NET platform.
My boss had faith in my instantly. I am surrounded by a magnificent team. Every one of my colleagues is a true professional who supports, understands and extends a hand of friendship.
If you’d ask me about the achievement I’m most proud of, I’d probably point to one of my first projects, my first independent creation since I started at my company. To put it very briefly, it’s an application, measuring wind speed and direction at a certain height. A pilot needs to position a theodolite on the ground and then release a tiny helium-filled balloon into the atmosphere. Both of them record the data which is transmitted to the computer, processed and the calculations of speed and direction of wind at a certain height are provided. That’s essentially how this application works, and to this day my first project at work is my greatest personal pride.
Wrapping it up
I don’t believe there are lots of programmers able to code only in one language. Whatever your initial choice was, the market will correct it into what’s needed at the time. Developing software takes constant learning. I came to study PHP but at my job I use totally different languages.
But that just makes me adore computer programming even more. I was searching for new challenges, inspiration, wanted to feel the joy of discovery, and it seems this path of creativity is only starting to unwind for me. Take my word for it!