Career Shift: Video Creator to iOS Developer at Vinted
Changing careers is never easy, and often involves requalifying, battling feelings of self-doubt, and rebuilding self-confidence. Despite the challenges faced, Justina Šiaulytė, has done just that. In this article, we sat down with Justina to find out more about her remarkable story of transitioning from a video creator to an iOS developer at Vinted. Read on to discover how she adapted and used her resilience in the face of this formidable challenge, and learn more about how we at Vinted welcome career changers into our dynamic teams.
Meet Justina Šiaulytė
Justina Šiaulytė is an ex-video operator turned iOS developer. After making the brave decision to switch career paths in her 30s, and pursue her dream career as a software developer, she arrived at Vinted via our Engineering Academy – our entry program and technical induction designed to support junior engineers during the first leg of their career journey at Vinted. How did she get on? In her words, we’ll find out more about her career-change journey, and what the transition from learning at home alone to becoming a team member in a global tech unicorn was really like.
The Career Shift Decision
Before becoming an iOS developer, I’d been working as a video operator in a drama theatre for almost a decade. I enjoyed my job, and the feeling of holding a camera in my hand and filming, but also yearned to do something more creative and less physical. I wanted to learn something new, so I went back to the drawing board.
I remembered how much I’d enjoyed programming at school and decided that there was no reason why I couldn’t go back and pursue this. My friend suggested I try iOS development, because he thought it was the easiest to learn by yourself. He lent me a book on the subject, but I found it really hard to follow. Then I stumbled upon a video course on Udemy for €12 and I decided that it was worth giving it a go.
Before making the switch, I started teaching myself about iOS development at home in my free time after work. I never went to any live courses, and I only watched online courses. I would spend almost all of my spare time creating apps for myself. Looking back, it feels like a dream to be working on a real product now.
My career transition was gradual. After I turned 30, I decided that I wanted to learn something new, and it evolved from there. It wasn’t a decision that I took lightly. Making such a big life change and moving from a totally different field, with no background (not even studies) in the tech industry was terrifying. I was scared that I’d chosen the wrong career to start over in, or that I wouldn’t be very good at it. I wasn't actually sure if anyone would take me on, and dedicate the time to teaching me.
When you start a new career, that feeling of “I know what I'm doing and I feel confident about my career” is non-existent. In the beginning, I felt like I knew nothing – like the rug had been pulled out from under me. Even now, some days it still feels like I don’t know anything, but I always willingly battle through the challenges. It’s a bumpy ride. Whenever I experience a setback, I have to pick myself up, try again, and learn more. This happens over and over again, but knowing that I can show up, push through, and rise up when I fall is empowering. The fact that I really enjoy programming makes the struggle even more bearable. It’s interesting, it's challenging, and it's really satisfying when you overcome even the smallest of hurdles. The whole process is really rewarding, and for me the constant perseverance has paid off.
Toughest Part About Changing Careers
The hardest part about changing careers was not knowing when I was ready. Being self-taught, I had no idea if my technical knowledge and skills were up-to-scratch, so I didn’t know when to apply for jobs. I spent a year sending out CVs and getting stuck into a loop of learning, learning, and learning, because I wasn’t sure if I was good enough. If I saw an open position, I gave it a go, but I never managed to get past the application stage because requirements for junior positions are really high. I told myself to keep going, and that I would make it there eventually. Thankfully, the Vinted Engineering Academy was just around the corner.
Vinted Engineering Academy
The Vinted Engineering Academy was a great way for me to enter the engineering field. There were no requirements for experience, so applying was a no-brainer.
After my initial application, I made it through to the next stage, which meant working on some tough practical task scenarios. I found this part particularly tricky, as there were no right answers, but I managed to pass through this stage by being methodical and open with myself in my approach.
The homework task was nothing like I expected, in a good way. It was challenging, but we had enough time to finish it.
I actually found the final stage of the recruitment process – the interview – the most exciting part. Here was my chance to meet my possible future colleagues, and we got on really well. When we talked about code, it felt like a discussion.. All suggestions were valid, and none were considered ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. I loved this collaborative approach, and I decided then and there that I really wanted to work here with these people.
From the approach, to the people, through to the tasks, everything that I experienced during the selection process in my daily role now. It was a good indicator of what it’s like to work here at Vinted.
I joined Vinted along with all the other Academy participants, and we went through an onboarding week first, rather than having to start working on something straight away. We started off by listening to some interesting talks from different team members on different elements of the company, its infrastructure, how things are approached, and why some programming languages are chosen. Then we took part in workshops on the design system and testing. I think this was one of the most important parts, as we found out the key information about how things are done here.
What’s great about the Academy is that each person gets assigned a mentor. It’s really helpful to have a person nearby who can answer all of your questions. I was taken aback by how the company deals with management, as I’d never experienced this approach before. Our managers regularly check in one-on-one, to make sure that everything is ok, and that there’s no niggling issues or problems. I feel really heard. It’s really refreshing to be part of an organisation that listens to you and takes action when things are wrong or not going well.
Code Review and Collaboration
I’ve come a long way from the days of learning by myself. Now I know a bit more about iOS, and I like it even more because you can see it building in real time, and you can see how your every input changes the output. Another one of the crucial things I’d never experienced when working alone is how necessary it is to review other people’s code. If I need to write some code, I have to read a lot of other code in the process. It has been a steep learning curve, but such a great experience to see how other developers work.
Vinted's Mission and Atmosphere
When I think about working here at Vinted, I’m not only enthusiastic about the practical side of my day-to-day role. I also really resonate with our company mission to build something useful worldwide, not just locally. The fantastic atmosphere here is evidence of how much we care for our people, and the planet as well, and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.
Only when looking back at my career-change journey, can I fully appreciate the many hurdles and obstacles that I had to overcome to get where I am today. I faced a daily battle with my self-confidence, and being so isolated when learning in the beginning was a challenge. I’m so glad that I persevered, and had the opportunity, along with the necessary support and positive working atmosphere at Vinted to make my big career transition a positive one.