Magda is one of the few female frontend engineers at VI. Here she talks about working fully remote, challenges in her job, and why there are still so few women in the business.
You ask how I got here? Oh my God it’s such a long story. Basically, I lived in Canada, Italy, the US and when I was coming for a visit to Berlin, my friend was living there and my childhood friend from Lithuania moved there and then I was like: there is no reason for me to not move there either, right?
And I moved to Berlin. And I started to work for Facebook and Instagram, it was like a weird job. When I was working as an online content moderator, lots of my colleagues started to switch to web development. I had night shifts and a lot of free time, and I wondered–maybe it’s a good idea to switch my career to better paid development jobs. Which would give me freedom, I mean this is what I value the most, I travel a lot:
It would give me the freedom to move wherever I want.
So, on LinkedIn I contacted a guy from VI, we knew each other from the web development course in Berlin, I asked him about jobs, and he recommended me and when I found out that I’d work only from home, I was perfectly okay with it.
You know, in the beginning I didn’t feel like asking colleagues questions online, but over time I got good at that. What I learned and what is very important is that I should never be afraid to ask questions. It’s not so easy, when you’re isolated at home. Basically, the boundaries are missing, I don’t want to associate my personal space with work, I would love to go to a coworking space, we are already a couple of colleagues who work remotely from Berlin; I asked VI if I could rent a desk somewhere, but let’s see.
You know what I’m doing? I’ll tell you, there is the backend development and frontend development. I am a frontend developer: I program the design on the interface. I am not programming backend which is like security and storage. I work closely with designers and ask them how a website should look like. And I am coding it. I make a website out of this design. For me, the functionality of the website is important. But aesthetics, it is equally important. Nowadays it’s only important to grab attention. And me, I just believe in beautiful websites. Oh my God, I love small animations and interactions; it’s much easier to code, when I see the result immediately. I am interested in UX design, which means it’s all about psychology. Where to place a button so people would click Buy on it.
I would never work during the night though. That is such a developer’s cliché. Right now, I have the perfect work-life balance. I never work more than eight hours a day. 80% of the time, we work on projects and 20% we can invest in professional development. We have 1,000 euro per year as a team to spend and last month I went to this amazing conference in Amsterdam. Still, I miss working with people. It costs more and more money for me moving from one coffee place to another.
I had my days when I was crying and didn’t know what to do. Generally, I like my profession, but it sucks, when I feel stuck on a problem. But I can’t be afraid to ask people for help. I also had to learn to be patient with myself. I am a junior, it’s normal that I am stuck on things. But first, you must know how to google as a frontend engineer:
You have to be good in googling you know?
Being a woman is not part of the problem, well I do not think of it as a problem. For many companies it’s an advantage to hire more women for diversity reasons. A lot of companies want to give priority to women and people of colour. But here, I do not feel the difference, I am a frontend engineer and that’s it. But to be honest we only have a few of us in the company doing that job. We have dozens of developers in all four offices and a handful of women. Could be more, but the field is very male dominated. I feel like it’s because it’s engineering, it’s tech, and it’s a traditionally a male profession, but even when I say this – it doesn’t feel good. The job requires logical thinking, but I know a lot of women who are super logical and many men who aren’t.
I will feel bad for quitting.
To be completely honest this is my first job ever I am going to feel sorry when I will be quitting in the future. I don’t feel I should quit, but it will probably happen. They give me the freedom to work from wherever I want, it’s not so much pressure and sometimes, when it gets tough, I’m just like: whatever, fake it till you make it, right?
Like, once I open with a project, I feel so stupid sometimes, so fucking stupid and I feel so primitive but once I open up and ask other people, I realise, oh my God we all have the same issues. Communicate about your problems and you’ll feel less alone, you will see that everyone struggles. And in the end, you won’t even notice, in the end you will google less and less.