Sep 13, 2022
Mia’s career switch from campaigns to coding
Happy International Programmer’s Day 🥳! Today we wanted to share Mia’s story, who’s one of our Software Engineers here at Wolt. Mia first joined Wolt five years ago as Marketing Manager overseeing the Finnish market. But for years, she’d had engineering as a potential career path in mind. So one day she decided to take the leap and go after her dream. She signed up for a bootcamp in Berlin that prepares you for a coding career, and after the bootcamp and some coding experience she re-joined Wolt — but now as an engineer. How did she make this switch happen and what’s she up to now? Let’s hear more from Mia herself:
Hi Mia 👋. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.
Before I started studying, I didn’t know what I wanted to do so I applied to study physics, English, and photography and ended up studying English philology. I think usually when people study English in Finland, they become a teacher or a translator or go into academia, but I didn’t feel like any of that was for me. I ended up doing communications and marketing for almost five years and the last marketing job I had was here at Wolt. I started working at Wolt in 2017 as the Marketing Manager for Finland. It was a really exciting time, Wolt had started a couple of years earlier and I had heard about this cool startup in Helsinki. It sounded like a lot of fun and it was a blast. One of my favorite memories was when during Christmas time we had volunteer couriers to dress up as blue Santa Clauses around Finland 🎅🎄!
How did you get interested in engineering in the first place?
I spent a lot of time on computers as a kid 👩💻. My family lived in a few different countries when I was growing up which meant I had a lot of long-distance friends and that I stayed in touch with by writing emails to them. When social media started to come around, there were sites in Finland where you could make your profile a bit nicer by adding colors and backgrounds, so I started doing that. There were also some games that I played online where I could do some customization and that’s when I really started to get into it. I’d see someone else who’d changed their background or their cursor, and I’d be like “Oh I wanna know how to do that”, so I’d google it and find this tiny snippet of CSS and copy-paste it somewhere. Although I never went very far with it, I started realizing that there’s a lot more I could do if I knew how to code.
Now you’re an engineer at Wolt, tell us a bit about switching up your career path!
Since I was a teenager, I’ve been interested in coding. I did a little bit of coding back then, but it really felt like no girls coded so I didn’t really see it could be a path for me. But later when I’d been working in marketing for years, I felt like I really wanted to give it a shot! I didn’t want to do a whole new degree that would take years so I looked for alternative ways to get into the field. I found a coding bootcamp called Ironhack in Berlin, where you spend an intense nine weeks to learn full stack development and after this should be able to work in the field. I knew someone who had done a similar bootcamp, which was helpful to understand the ins and outs of the process.
The bootcamp was great. It helped me kick off this new career path and I found my first job as a developer in a startup back in Finland 🎉. After working there for about six months I saw that Wolt was looking for engineering interns, and I really missed the people — I made such good friends at Wolt and I love the product and the company. Working at Wolt since such early days, I kind of felt like I’d been growing up with Wolt. So I decided to apply and see what happened. I got hired and joined Wolt’s engineering team in the spring of 2021. I’ve been working here as a developer since then and it’s been quite a ride!
That’s awesome 🙌. What kind of projects do you work on at Wolt?
I work in our content delivery team, which means we work on for example the content editor that our Marketing Managers use to add content to the Wolt website. I was so excited to join this particular team because this is the tool that I was using when I did marketing at Wolt. Funnily enough, this tool was actually one of the things that made me think about how cool it would be to know how to code. When I was a user of the tool, there were so many things I found frustrating — I’d talk to the developers and give them feedback, but a lot of times they said it was meant to be used in a different way. I remember thinking that if I knew how to code, I’d be able to make it more user-friendly based on my own experiences. It was really cool to be able to come back and work on it and actually know what it’s like on the user’s side.
What encouraged you to switch up your career path?
I feel like many people in tech have been coding since they were kids, and that’s been seen as a norm — the longer you’ve been coding the better you are, because you’ve seen more and understand tech better. That was one of the things preventing me from pursuing coding at first. I never thought of going to university to study coding because I thought everyone there would’ve been doing it since they were like five or ten years old 🤯.
What motivated me was seeing people who had started coding later in life and had benefited from knowing another field as well besides coding. I think it’s equally important to have amazing experts with deep knowledge of coding and tech, while also having people who have understanding outside of technology. That’s the winning combination to build great products! It also helped to know someone who had gone through a similar journey, and be able to ask for guidance and some questions about how they made the move happen.
“I feel like many people in tech have been coding since they were kids — the longer you’ve been coding the better. That was one of the things preventing me from pursuing coding at first. What motivated me was seeing people who had started later in life and benefited from knowing another field besides coding.”
Have you faced any challenges moving into the engineering field?
Honestly, I’ve been really lucky and things have gone quite smoothly. I think, unsurprisingly, the biggest challenge has been the imposter syndrome, worrying if I’d be good enough and taken seriously. Inside my head I had this lingering thought “Will people take me seriously if I come back after a bootcamp to start coding in the same company”. But I realized it was mostly about building trust in myself that I can do this.
What I’ve noticed is that often you assume that others have this in-depth knowledge about everything they’re talking about. In tech, people often come off as super smart and have intelligent conversations, so it can be hard to come in and admit you don’t know a simple concept. I’ve learnt to overcome the fear of asking questions that might feel stupid inside my head and noticed that often the response has been “I don’t know the answer yet either, but we can figure it out together”. My tip for any starter would be to not be afraid to ask questions and stop assuming others know everything — a lot of problems in tech are all about figuring things out together.
What’s your favorite thing about working at Wolt?
Even though I know it sounds cheesy, it’s definitely the people here. We’re such a big company with people from all kinds of backgrounds, I feel there’s really a group for everyone to fit in. I’ve always felt that working at Wolt is a lot of fun. It’s the little things like humor and little inside jokes with the team that give you that sense of belonging. People here work really hard but you can also crack a small joke. I really like to be able to laugh at work and we don’t have to take things too seriously 💙.
How has Wolt helped you to grow as an engineer?
Coding is one of those things where it’s very different to be part of a company building a real-life product than it is sitting at school and making small personal projects. It’s been nice that from the internship onwards, I’ve actually done things, put them into production and made things that people actually use. I’ve felt that starting my developer career at Wolt has been a sweet spot — you’re given enough responsibility to constantly keep learning, but not too much for it to become overwhelming.
“I’ve felt that starting my developer career at Wolt has been a sweet spot — you’re given enough responsibility to constantly keep learning, but not too much for it to become overwhelming.”
I really feel like I can learn a lot from the people I work with. We have a very open culture, so you never have to be scared to ask for help, and we always figure things out together.
Any tips for someone who’s looking to switch up their career path to get into engineering?
For anyone with even a slight interest in coding, I really recommend looking into some online courses or tutorials to get a feeling of whether you like it or not. If it feels like something you’re into, it’s great to find a mentor or some sort of supportive community where you can ask questions and talk to other people who have gone through a similar path – for example in Finland, Mimmit Koodaa or LevelUp Koodarit (Facebook group and Slack community) are awesome places to start, although they are specifically geared towards women who are changing careers. Don’t be discouraged if it feels hard at times, everyone goes through that and it gets easier if you’re able to speak out and ask questions. If you feel like you’re lagging behind because you haven’t been coding for years and years, take some time to think about what are the strengths that you could be bringing to the table besides just tech skills!
This year we at Wolt are partnering with Mimmit Koodaa (Women Code) and Women in Tech Finland to support and encourage more women to join the tech industry. We’ve launched ‘Product Development with Wolt’, a series of talks and workshops for those who are interested in a career in tech and would like to learn more about different parts of product development . Find the next sessions from here.