My journey to get a job in Berlin

February 10, 2021 · 5 mins read
EngineeringWork

Snowy February ❄️
I’m getting the vibe of being comfortable under a blanket, drinking hot choco, and taking time to look back. So this is my journey as a Software Engineer.

Quick recap

I graduated from University in 2013 as a Software Engineer. However, I started to work in 2011. After that I never stopped working until 2019 when I decided to take a break that lasted 6 months.

So, it was 2011 and I was doing an internship as a C++ developer and then I moved as a full stack developer in the same company. After a year I took my first full-time job. I was still working as a full stack developer building websites using jquery and java 😄
Until here I worked on small/medium projects for companies based in Peru.

Then I had the opportunity to work at a company from the US. This was an amazing experience because I worked on huge projects with distributed teams and in a foreing language. It was a challenge in so many ways that helped me to grow a lot. Oh! And here is where my journey as a web developer started.

After that I moved to a Canadian company based in Peru. Again, a big company with a lot of customers. We were building the new web app. This gave me the opportunity to learn more about architecture, software design, security and design systems.

Now I’m working in Berlin. This company is even bigger and with international customers. This brings more challenges like internationalization, legal restrictions per country, diferent customer behaviour and needs per country. The team is even more international (over 80 different nationalities!)

Getting a job in Europe

Big companies receive a LOT of CVs from all over the world. You need to make sure you stand out ✨

I wanted to move abroad for a while. But it was not until September of 2019 when I was determined to get a job in Europe. Yes, of course! This was not simple, but I was preparing for this moment a few years back. Here are some learning I want to share with you.

Build your own website

This is a great way for people to get to know you better. Not only as a developer but as a person. What are your interests? What are you working on now? Don’t only include your work experience, but a nice About me section. You don’t need a fancy website or buy your own domain. You can start with a README on GitHub. I received a lot of nice feedback from recruiters about my website. So I can tell you, recruiters will check your page.

Conferences, confereces, conferences

I started to attend conferences since 2017. I applied to different type of scholarships and that helped me a lot to get into bigger and renamed conferences that otherwise I wouldn’t be able to pay because the ticket fee can be really expensive and I also had to pay for my flight and accommodation 💸

I applied to Google Conference Scholarships. They have a list of conferences that are updated through the year. What happens if the conference that you want is not there? Well, make sure you check the website of the conference and look for Inclusivity Grant or Diversity and Inclusion Scholarship or something similar. A lot of conferences have their own scholarship program. Of course, if your company has a budget for personal development use it 😑

Now, why attend to a conference? I think it’s a great way to stay up to date because not all the talks from the conferences are published or are published months later. Also, you can ask questions directly to the tech industry leaders! Once I had the chance to talk with Jack Dorsey 👀 and I asked him what was the future of Twitter in the next 5 years 😅 I also had the opportunity to talk with Chris Heilmann, who was sharing his experience on IE and how he proposed to rebuild it using Chromium.

Another benefit is that you can expand your network by meeting developers from all over the world and learn from their experiences. In a similar way, you learn about other companies and what they are working on. This can give you a whole different perspective on your current job or project. This can give you more insight on how to solve a problem or on what to work next. I had a lot a aha! moments and was excited to go back to my company and share new ideas with them.

Techtalks

AAHHH! Public speaking!

I think I always liked to make presentations but I always feel nervous when I have to speak in front of people. So, why do it? It’s a great way to give back to the community. Your experience is valuable and someone can learn from it. Could be something you learned in a conference and you want to share it in your local community. It would also help you to improve your knowledge on a certain topic because, if you are like me, you’ll do a lot of research for your presentation. If that’s not enough, it would give you visibility in the tech community.

Volunteering

This is another great way to give back to the community and make a difference but also to develop new skills. Based on my experience, this is highly valued in USA and Europe. It shows your character, interests and passions. Another great way to show who you are as a person and stand out.

Put it all together

Add all your experience in your CV and LinkedIn… in English. Once I changed my profile to English I started to receive messages from recruiters from different countries and the traffic of my website increased considerably from all over the world.

Put some effort and love on your CV. Don’t just use buzzy words. Show your real experience. Try to answer these questions: What have you done so far? What was your impact on that project? What tech stack did you use? And yet… keep it short and simple. E.g Improved web app performance by 25% achieving 90/100 points in Lighthouse.

Companies truly receive a lot of applications and people won’t spend much time reviewing long CVs or the ones that doesn’t catch their attention. Make sure you highlight the key points on your experience. Remember that you’ll be asked about what is there so there is not point on lying.

The interview

Once you have decided to proceed with an interview take some time to prepare. You applied to this company for a reason, make sure you are able to answer these questions:

  • Why do you want to work in this company?
  • What do you know about the company?

You also want to prepare for these questions.

  • What was the most challenging project you worked on?
  • What project are you proud of?

If you are not ready to answer that during the interview you might get nervous trying to remember and that might not be beneficial for you.

Final words

Apply for that job!
Trust yourself and enjoy the process :)


Written with 💜 and 🍫 .
Hola! I'm Ursula, a Software Engineer who loves to build cool stuff and tries to travel as much as possible. Oh! and I love 😺 too
You can find me on Twitter