Beyond the picture-perfect image of the IT industry: An honest conversation with a recent college graduate

Every time Brianna speaks in a meeting, the whole room lights up. Her enthusiasm and optimism rub off on you. With her on your software team, you know that no database challenges will go unsolved. So far, Brianna has had an outstanding year. She graduated from college and was recently promoted to a mid-level BI developer position, proving that hiring her as a junior developer two years ago was a good decision.

Brianna's recent talk at her alma mater gave us the perfect excuse to ask for an interview. We started with her first encounter with a computer, talked about her career path, and ended up solving one of the biggest problems of the education system.

What did you want to be when growing up? Has that changed over time?

I was only 3 years old when I first laid my hands on a computer. Like many in my generation, I played Tarzan Action Game as often as possible. I also learned to navigate independently on a PC as I found it very logical and intuitive. 

I did this for more than a year before learning to read. Oddly enough, everyone was surprised when I told them that I wanted to work on a computer when I grew up. 

I didn't intentionally learn about IT concepts, but rather picked up everything I’d heard. After a while, I started to make sense of it all. So from first grade until graduating from college last week, I knew one thing for sure: I wanted to work in the IT industry. Life has its ups and downs, and when things didn't make sense, people around me told me to find another goal. However, I didn't give up. All because I was 100% certain this was what I wanted.

How did the subjects you had in school help you get closer to your dream job?

Most of the subjects helped me. I developed a logical way of thinking through STEM subjects, maths, computer science, and physics. Practically, I learned a new way of learning and developed the ability to understand the basics of a new concept quickly. 

On the other hand, there were also subjects that I didn't enjoy—some of them, in fact, not at all. Looking back on my school years now, I'm grateful that I had the opportunity to take different courses because it made me realise the value of self-discipline and perseverance. It also gave me an honest outlook on adulthood: Not everything you have to do has to be fulfilling. Still, it has to be done.

How did you get a job at Qubiz? 

Mine is probably the most boring hiring story ever. I followed Qubiz on social media, and when I saw that a junior position was posted, I applied with my resume. A recruiter contacted me to set up an interview. 

We started with the technical assessment, which consisted of a series of software development questions. We also had a short conversation in English to check my language skills. Then followed the HR interview to find out if I'd be a good fit in terms of personality. After a few days, I got a job offer, which (spoiler alert!) I accepted. 😂

Was the job different from what you expected as a student?

Since it was not my first job, I already knew what to expect. However, I was “shocked,” but it was a pleasant one. I was surprised that colleagues could be so friendly and helpful. Nevertheless, a big discrepancy exists between how we imagine an IT project and the reality. In school, we only focus on writing lines of code, when in reality, a software developer needs to be familiar with various other areas as well.

What’s the best thing about your current role?

When people hear the word “role”, they usually think of hierarchies and chains of command. I like that we stick to project roles in our company (developers, testers, analysts, etc.). But back to your question, the best thing about my role applies to all roles at Qubiz: we can learn from each other. 

I feel like I'm on an upward trajectory, accumulating knowledge about different development languages, project management, problem-solving, etc. Also, it's very cool to work side-by-side with our clients and consult with them regularly. This way, I know I'm useful, and I prove to myself daily that not only can I do this, but I can also have an impact on my colleagues' work.

Why did you decide to get involved with Qubiz’s Școala Altfel program?

Școala Altfel is a national program that aims to develop students' learning and socio-emotional skills. Helping people is part of my DNA, and in the case of Școala Altfel, I was able to help two of my favourite former professors, my alma mater, my company, and most importantly, the students. 

It's a classic win-win-win-win situation. As a maths tutor, I found that students often lack direction. Usually, they just need inspiration, advice, or a memorable experience. Through Școala Altfel, I can impact the lives of many children. I can talk openly with them in this format, which is the most important thing during their teen years.

Of what you tell the students, what surprises them the most?

Everything. Both the world of IT and adulthood are misrepresented. The adults who try to prolong the time teens have to face reality aren't doing anyone any favours. They need to know what is coming and prepare for an actual job.

 I also surprised them with the way I talked to them. They appreciated that I was direct and open. Judging from their feedback and that of their teacher, it was exactly what they needed. 

And I believe them because I was in their shoes just a few years ago. The overly optimistic speeches of other professionals in the field did not bring me closer to working in IT. On the other hand, three of them have already submitted their applications for our internship program after my visit.

What's one thing everyone who wants to start a career in IT should know?

Live by the words of Frank Loyd Wright: “The price of success is hard work and dedication.” IT is one of the most competitive fields around. It is constantly evolving and changing. The mobile phone is probably the best example of this. Compare a phone from the early 2000s to what you have in your hands now. 

The only phone companies still around are the ones that understood this concept from the beginning. You have to be able to adapt to changing circumstances and adopt a mentality of constant learning. The number of programmers in Romania almost DOUBLES every few years, so you cannot rely on the knowledge you have accumulated so far. To be successful in this environment, one must have a passion for IT.

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