Decode your power
Graduate Miłek Politowski about his career change
A career as a front-end developer after working in a hearing aid clinic
My choice after secondary school came down to two majors: computer science or acoustics.
For context, I have to go back to my high school days. My way through the school years led through classes with a mathematical and physical profile. In the middle school period, I started to develop the first of my interests - the passion for music - by starting guitar lessons. In high school I started to be interested in the more pure nature of sound - first amateur recordings and attempts at mixing several soundtracks, etc.
Also in high school, and I don't remember exactly how it happened, I became very intrigued by the subject of programming. Maybe it was influenced by my older brother, a student at Poznan University of Technology at the time. I bought a PHP 4 textbook with my allowance and made my first attempts at writing code.
How do the above stories relate to each other? They coincided with the moment of choosing the further educational path after high school graduation. The choice boiled down to two directions: computer science, which seemed like a more pragmatic choice at the time, or sound directing, which tempted me as being more sophisticated.
Eventually, I chose computer science, taught at Wroclaw University of Technology and... after the first semester I gave up
The beginnings disappointed me terribly. The number of meaningless classes did its job and killed all motivation in me. Paradoxically, I remember philosophy as the most interesting subject of the first semester... I quickly returned to my family home, waited for the next university recruitment period and reached for my dream of studying acoustics at Adam Mickiewicz University. There I got my diplomas in both sound directing and ear training and noise protection. Somewhere in the second half of my studies, I started to rekindle my love for writing code, but this time choosing typically front-end technologies. This allowed me to develop the website of the student radio station, which I actively co-founded.
I slowly took my first steps in the hearing care industry - I helped people
Immediately after university I followed the path set out by my studies and slowly took my first steps into the hearing care industry. At first, I got a seasonal job with the National Hearing Test campaign. I travelled around the country in a specialised vehicle called a hearing bus and performed preliminary hearing tests for anyone interested. I know that I helped a lot of people.
After a short break, I took a full-time job as a hearing aid dispenser at a hearing aid clinic in Poznan. My job was to diagnose hearing problems and assess the impact of hearing loss on patients' ability to recognise words. They generally only came in when the hearing loss had already significantly reduced their quality of life, making it difficult to communicate freely with people. Since the absolute majority of hearing loss is irreversible damage to the auditory cells, my challenge was to choose the right device that would correct the individual hearing loss and at the same time meet the patient's expectations.
In practice, I spent every spare moment at work in front of the computer and absorbing articles about technology
Well, facing customers was not my strong suit, and I soon realised that although I was a good audiologist, I was a poor salesman. Also, at times I couldn't cope with the sad stories that explained why someone had lost their hearing.
What motivated me most to sign up for the course at Coders Lab was the feeling that I was moving away from my true aptitude. In practice, I spent every spare moment at work in front of the computer and absorbing articles about frontend technologies. I decided that I needed to act fast. At the same time, an advertisement for Coders Day fell into my hands. Participating in it convinced me even more that I wanted to change my profession.
When it came to finances, I kept telling myself like a mantra that it was simply an investment, the same as buying gold. And indeed, the investment has simply paid off.
Front-end enchanted me for good, so I signed up for a course
It will come as no surprise that the decision was difficult both for financial reasons and limited time availability. I was only certain about the technology - front-end enchanted me for good. The opportunity to attend a weekend course helped me with the time constraint.
The course itself organized the knowledge I had so far, showed me good programming practices and introduced issues completely new to me, such as Webpack or the clue of the course - React.
Going to classes was a bit like training at the gym - after each month you could see the effects ;). However, it wouldn't be like that without practising the same amount at home. I was also happy as a kid when the lecturers gave me additional tasks.
I had to find a job as a programmer while I was still on the course - it wasn't easy
I did not want to extend my contract at the prosthetic office. The course was supposed to end in April, and my contract ended in February, so I started looking for a job in December. I believed that the material learned up to that point would be enough to get an employer interested in a junior who "wants to".
It wasn't easy, because during the first interview (at a software house with a fairly recognizable brand), due to the stress I was wrong about the simplest tasks. A sense of shame accompanies me to this day because during the interview they stopped believing that I did a much more difficult home recruitment task myself, although I spent almost a week on it...
However, it was a valuable experience in that I got wonderful feedback describing what I still needed to work on (I keep the email to this day). Thanks to this, the first twisted leg did not break my spirits, but motivated me, even more, to study with even greater intensity.
Then (at the turn of the year) I started spamming local employers. Eventually, after more than 30 applications and probably 5 interviews, I got my first IT job as a junior frontend developer at Cognifide after a recruitment process that lasted almost 1.5 months. I must admit, I felt proud! :)
I would like to add that as a way of saying "goodbye" I prepared a brand new website for the prosthetic office I worked for, replacing the archaic Joomla version with the more user-friendly WordPress.
At work, I met fantastic people, thanks to whom I wanted to grow even more
In Cognifide I implemented the front layer of a website for a large, clothing brand. It was an interesting experience because it combined, on the one hand, building static website components based on Adobe Experience Manager and, on the other hand, creating dynamic shop applications written in React. I was very lucky because I joined a completely new team, so I was present in the implementation process from the very beginning!
In this job, I met fantastic people (there were also Coders Lab alumni) who helped me understand Redux, so commonly used with React, or made my head ache when I read code written functionally in RamdaJS. I feel grateful because they kept me wanting to develop.
Due to the client's rather innovative approach to UX, I was repeatedly confronted with very unusual solutions to problems related to DOM object manipulation.
My cooperation with Cognifide ended after a year - I felt that I had to try working in a place where the front end would not be so strictly dependent on the CMS.
I am glad that the IT world creates such interesting opportunities
I am currently working in an international corporation, where I am responsible for preparing a prototype of the front-end part of a new version of an application supporting the work of the so-called investment managers in a bank. It is a very interesting project, mainly because it is the first one in which I use the new React Hooks API. The whole project is crucial for the company because it's the first stage of modernization of the product's client layer.
I have plans to move to Egnyte - from the arrangements, it seems that I will join the team that primarily deals with the development of new functionalities of the company's main product.
I'm very excited about this change and am delighted that the world of IT is creating such interesting opportunities. Although I didn't take advantage of the school's HR help in the job search process, I felt much more confident with the idea that an employer might be aware of the Coders Lab brand and would appreciate the results of the course I attended.
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Learn other stories
Each graduate had different motivations and doubts at the start. But they made a bold decision and took that first, difficult step toward change. They let go of past achievements and lessons learned and... changed their professional lives. See how they did it.