My Tech Journey - Alena Nikolaeva

My Tech Journey - Alena Nikolaeva

Tech nowadays is much more than just coding. There is a place for everyone: from designer to developer, manager, customer support and customer success, finance and human resources and plenty of other roles. Technology is combined with art, finance, and health to provide us with the best opportunities to have a better, nicer, healthier life. So just because you don't already code or don't intend to, doesn't mean that tech is not for you.

We are very happy to present today Alena Nikolaeva's journey in tech. Alena is a Tupu friend, whose tech career didn't start with a computer science degree.

What do you currently do for work?

Product Designer

What is your educational background?

Master in Digital Marketing, Online Master in Project management, Coding Bootcamp, Software Engineering Degree (currently enrolled), Master in Product Design (currently enrolled)

When and how did you get started being interested about programming/tech industry, and how did you learn?

I studied Digital Marketing a few years ago and worked as a community manager. I've always been curious about the tech industry (UX/UI design, front-end, 3D and graphics), even when I wasn't working in this field. I guess, in my case, it's been quite logical decision. When I was doing metrics and creating analytics for the company, SEO and getting data for sales I kept asking myself "How do we make a website?" or "Can we really program a marketing tool?". So, the fact that you could create anything from scratch is really amazing in a developer's world.

Right now I'm at the crossroads of Front-end developer and UX Engineer roles. I would say, I am a product designer, since I'm designing interfaces, building design systems in React and Vue and advocating for accessibility.

Which books/online courses/websites were helping you the most on your journey?

I enrolled for the Full-stack development training at Wild Code School Madrid. The program offered seemed intense and that's exactly what I was looking for. However, I also studied on Freecodecamp, Udemy, Scrimba and Deque University later, when I started to be interested in accessibility.

Something that I also enjoyed along the way is studying Project Management, it helped tremendously to be able to quickly understand the motivation on why we are building features and even leading a project when I was still a junior developer.

How has mentorship played a role in your tech career?

My mentors, at least the majority, were very experienced people and I'm glad that in tech community you can have such support. But also from people of my age, I got practical help on things like preparing a talk, getting contacts and moving into Twitter space.

What I can remember as a point when things actually started to change is when I have been invited to a podcast by my tech lead to participate in a program about accessibility, he would also help me with my code daily, this was the time when I become to feel confident about myself and that I belong here.

Make sure you try to build something before you start in tech to verify that you actually love it

What do you wish you had known when you started your career in tech? What advice would you give your younger self?

Make sure you try to build something before you start in tech to verify that you actually love it (you have to like it to be motivated and commit to it). Also, don't compare yourself to others, only to your own self yesterday, a week or a year ago.

What would you recommend to someone who is interested in starting with coding/designing/managing, but doesn't know exactly where to start?

I would recommend connecting to mentors and asking them questions, investigating a lot and building or designing a tiny thing. Give it a try and be consistent.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time? What are you curious about?

I'm lucky to be able to go surfing and do yoga on weekends and I also love classical literature. I've been always travelling and lived in 6 countries in past 7 years. This summer I've been to 4, so, I guess, that's another benefit that tech industry gives you - flexibility.

Why did you decide to sign up as a mentor/mentee for Tupu? What has your experience been?

Helping others is to give back to the community that helped me once.