From a very young age, Linda had an interest in mathematics. One day, while she was attending elementary school in her native Romania, one of her teachers asked Linda if she would like to attend after school lessons. During these lessons, she began learning to code using multiple languages. Linda notes that in retrospect, that teacher had changed her life. “I remember that when somebody asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always said, I want to make robots so they’ll do everything I have to do — so I don’t have to do anything. And everybody was laughing. I saw this vision and everybody was telling me, oh, you cannot do this job — it doesn’t exist — you have to choose another one. I never gave up.”

Lockdown leads to a decision

Flash forward to 2020 — Linda Kovacs had been involved with the tech world for most of her life, learning and working in the industry, but she still had big aspirations. Despite her work experience, she eventually felt that the technological environment surrounding her had evolved. At a certain point, she felt it was time for her to skill up and move forward. Then, when the coronavirus crisis reached a tipping point, Linda said to herself: “You know what? We’re in a lockdown. Let’s do this.”

Her success wasn’t instantaneous. Beyond her education and work history, the defining factors behind Linda’s success were her attitude, values, and personal drive. We talked with Linda to learn about her story and her approach to leveling up her career.

Big dreams and changes all around

After two years studying computer science at university in Romania, even though her dream was to move to the USA, she felt she wasn’t ready and she moved to Italy. She performed a number of jobs, and it was in Italy that her passion for software engineering and design began to emerge.

She made her way to the USA and took a job working for a corporation as a software engineer and designer. After some time, Linda noticed that some of her familiar technologies were starting to fall by the wayside. “We are living in an era where every day, with software development in general, it’s continuously changing, and we always have to be on top of it.” She began looking for a way to refresh her skillset, now the question was: how?

Finding her place

Linda knew she wanted to develop her skills to be in line with modern requirements. Further, the COVID-19 lockdown had kicked her motivation level into high gear. She resolved that she didn’t want to study by herself, “learning alone is not the easy way.”

She participated in a summer boot camp, she did FreeCodeCamp, and she took a course on React. Even still, something was missing. She says, “I really wanted to have end-to-end training from beginning to end. The frontend, the backend, databases, to put everything together.”

In the past Linda often found herself learning skills on the fly as they were needed on the job. Later, she would attain certification with those newly acquired skills. This time around, she decided she wanted to attain certification purely for herself, without her job serving as the primary catalyst, “I wanted to show that I did it.”

Choosing Practicum

On Twitter, Linda had long followed WomenWhoCode, an international non-profit organization for women pursuing technology careers. It was through them that she found Practicum’s software engineering program, and she quickly decided to come on board.

She said that quite often, Practicum adapted for the students, instead of students needing to adapt to the program. “Usually, If you go to boot camps, if something doesn’t work for you, you have to adapt yourself. But here we have the opportunity to make the program adapt to our necessities and make the journey easier.”

Practicum’s community also turned out to be an indispensable resource for Linda’s self-development during her studies. Linda thinks that helping others was a valuable experience, “Even if you know it, when you have to explain it to somebody who doesn’t understand, you have to make it easy — that person has to understand it. When you make it easy, you also make it easy for yourself.”

Not only that, but working with her peers as a group led to new revelations as well. She noted the value of looking at others’ code, “It’s like writing a book, you can write the same sentence in different ways.” Linda says that talking, brainstorming, and figuring out problems with her fellow students helped her to see new solutions.

Linda thought that this gave her a real leg up during the interview process because technical managers could quickly see something worthwhile. Practicum gave Linda real-world experience and projects to show off, “having a website to include all my projects, and display them right away, helping me in my hiring process, as I already had all the projects in place. So, not only I can show my activity on GitHub, but I was also able to display my projects.”

Going forward

Last year, after finishing a React bootcamp, Linda had a few rounds of interviews with Accenture, but didn’t make the cut. However, she was persistent in following up, “I just always follow through and here I am! The fact that I believed in myself, I worked hard to scale myself up, and I stayed motivated and persisted — it paid off in the end.”

Indeed, her persistence and dedication to self-improvement had been worth the investment: This year, Linda was hired as a software engineer at Accenture, a multinational company working with various governments and agencies.

Linda started her orientation in mid-September and expects to continue her training period a few more weeks before she dives in completely to her new project.

As for the project itself, Linda says that because her company works with sensitive data, she can’t give too many specific details, only that she’ll be working on the design team with a product related to 401K and retirement plans.

With Linda, persistence, the willingness to dream big, and the drive to keep pushing herself were all key factors to her success. She believed that big challenges would make the feeling of success even sweeter. Linda still isn’t finished. “Living my dream, it’s a great motivator. It’s the thing that makes me get up and get ready for the job. I put in lots of work to get here. So now I have to put in even more work to keep going.”

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