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Anastasia Bizyayeva: from Philosophy to Lead Engineer

Social media handle(s): Medium

A few words about me:

I'm primarily a Backend Engineer, but honestly I'd describe myself as a serial tinkerer - I love learning new coding languages, big D&D player (in fact, I have a Dungeons & Dragons themed Etsy greeting card shop that I've automated), and I love knitting, cooking, painting. There really aren't enough hours!

Are there any professional experiences you've had that are quite unexpected compared to what you do nowadays?

Yes! I started my career journey as an Account Manager for a healthcare research company. Basically, my responsibilities involved putting together project plans with the NHS executives for training their teams to be more data-driven and use management best-practices, but I realised that the best parts of my role were automating KPI tracking and that started my journey into tech - I asked leadership if I could become a Data Analyst for the international commercial team and they agreed!

Is your background more STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) or non-STEM related?

Non-STEM - my undergrad and master's were in philosophy of mind and cognitive science.

Where did your professional journey start?

The account management role mentioned above was where my journey began - though during my university years I did a lot of modules around modern symbolic logic and philosophy of mathematics, so I was always flirting with more technical fields.

How did you get into tech and what motivated you?

From working as a Data Analyst for a healthcare research company, I used my company's professional development budget to sign up for Datacamp's Data Scientist and Data Engineer tracks, finishing both of them and having good foundations in Python coding and SQL.

From there, I worked on some independent projects on GitHub (based off of the frequently-cited '10 project ideas' listicles and the like) to get a sense of working on something end-to-end, and then I reached out to technical recruiters to apply for roles!

Have you experienced any 'career in tech' challenges / stereotypes?

Being a woman in tech is challenging!

The biggest hurdle is opaque salaries paired with the Imposter Syndrome. Otta's stat is that women, on average, ask for 10% less than men in salary negotiations, and under-negotiated salaries follow you around your whole career.

Fortunately, I've had really considerate colleagues who were gung-ho about gender equality and shared their salaries with me so I could negotiate better.

"... it's very easy to feel valuable in the tech space."

What you wish you knew before getting started in tech...

I wish I knew more about venture capital financials - e.g. ESOPs, shares vs. options, liquidation vs. participation rights, stats about how many startups succeed vs fail. Knowledge is power!

What has been your biggest 'wow!' moment related to working in tech so far?

How open the market is to people who don't have skills, but are willing to learn!

So many roles advertise tech stacks I'm unfamiliar with but still invite me to apply - having a curious attitude is way more important than a concrete knowledge of a language.

What do you like / not like about working in tech?

I like all the new things you constantly learn and the tangibility of creating a thing that actually improves a process - it's very easy to feel valuable in the tech space. Additionally, Engineers are super organised and work really hard to quantify and optimise their work which is really inspiring, BUT it makes you a little more sensitive to less organised ways of working.

" ... having a curious attitude is way more important than a concrete knowledge of a language."

What's been your favourite / most memorable / funniest 'career in tech' moment so far?

When I was working for an e-commerce company, I once made half our products free for 15 minutes - very stressful, but a hilarious story in hindsight!

And to wrap up, is there any advice you'd like to give to others interested in a career in tech?

There are so many resources available online, so it's really accessible - BUT, a lot of people suffer from the inertia of choice, so I'd recommend that once you decide roughly on an avenue you want to take, don't try to find the best possible course, but instead start with anything that covers the basics and then dive into projects!


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