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Tech has spotted me! - Life refactored

By Paula Poço
Paula Poço
Dog lover. Fantasises about walking the red carpet in an Alexander McQueen dress.
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Tech has spotted me! - Life refactored
After years working in different areas, I dove into an entirely new professional world where I found what I was looking for: purpose, combined with daily challenges that excite me, and the ability to make plans for the future.

Let me tell you the story of how I became a software developer in my thirties, moving on from my previous career and academic education, and betting everything I had into learning how to code and doing what I had never done before.

I am a hard working woman. I worked as a cashier while attending university. After graduating in Languages and Literature (major in German and English), I worked as an English teacher for seven years. However, I started to realise that my teaching job wasn’t fulfilling enough. Something was missing. In the search to fill that void, I began to read about coding boot camps, which are quite popular in the United States, which led me to an EDX course named "Introduction to Computer Science”, provided by MIT.

I enrolled just for fun, and started watching the class videos and solving assignments based on programming with Scratch and C. I remember how excited I was whenever I finished one of those essays that took me a long time to solve. It felt like I could walk in the clouds - the same feeling I have today when I solve challenges at work.

That summer I searched for coding boot camps in Portugal. I found a good one, and I had to consider their services and, especially, the costs. I had to make the difficult decision of investing all my savings into this dream, into this unsure thing, but I was determined to not let this opportunity go, so I applied to the boot camp, and I was selected.

This boot camp was split into three parts: an intensive and quite hard military training, ten days of behavioural training in a military base, and two and a half months of technical training - does it sound scary? It wasn’t actually. I dare to say it was one of the best experiences of my life so far - bear with me, I will tell you all about it.

In the first part, I was surrounded by people from many different backgrounds. We were like tech soldiers: we had to create a web application and its presentation in under one hour in a noisy environment, orientation activities between push-ups and jumping jacks, and an activity where we had to write our fears and insecurities on a paper, only to bury them. All this to create in us a sense of team spirit, resilience, and to show me that everyone can ‘tech’, as long as you work hard and you are comfortable with the unknown. The second part of this boot camp was more focused on personal development and leadership, and in the last and technical part we learned C, C#, SQL, and built a mobile application under rigorous rules. Interesting, right?

It was in this boot camp when I first heard about Farfetch. After it finished, I decided to apply to an open position here and within a few weeks I was called for an interview - I was completely over the moon! I came dressed casually (I had done my homework right), and it was pleasant to be welcomed in such a friendly and respectful environment. A few days after my second interview, I got an offer. I was so excited that my answer was an easy ‘yes’.

I still remember my first day. The office was half of what it is today and I had a great onboarding, where I learned a lot about the company and had the opportunity to meet many Farfetchers. 

I must say the first month was challenging. I was still adapting and learning a lot of technical things, I had to research a lot, I made some mistakes but the opportunities to learn from them were huge! There was one episode that clearly illustrated my rookie level in this area and it still makes me laugh today: I was to deploy a build into production and I had tested it countless times, but on deploy things did not work as I expected, so I said the most hilarious thing: "but it works on my machine!”

Over these three and a half years, I have had countless amazing experiences, such as my first "dev’s day offsite”, our celebrations, and our internal hackathon, where we had 36 hours to design, implement and present to a jury an innovative idea. What do I love about Farfetch? Besides the challenges that allow me to learn, it’s the culture, it’s what we believe in. Be human and todos juntos are two of our values that translate our way of working, collaboratively, with respect for each other, sharing our efforts and sharing our successes.

You’re probably wondering if I would get back to teaching if the opportunity would arise, and that’s fine. I get that question a lot. I truly feel that’s not my path anymore. I discovered that when I started this journey in technology. The fact that I have been at Farfetch for as long as I have been, and I still wake up excited in the morning because I know I will be able to use my creativity and make things work, reassures me of this.

So if your intuition is telling you to pursue another career, don’t panic. Follow your curiosity, and it will pay off, both professionally and personally.

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