Stepping into the Abyss Blindfolded: the Incredible Success Story of a Switcher in IT
Julia Jerjomins left her position as head of a department at a bank to become a business analyst in IT. She relocated to the US, continues her studies, and dreams of opening her own IT company. Read her story of a radical career change with sharp twists and turns in our Anywhere Club blog.
— My name is Julia Jerjomins, many people know me as Julia Volchkevich. I have been in IT for almost 4 years, and I currently work as Senior Business Analyst at Kyriba. I studied at several universities in Belarus. My first specialty was as an international economist. Then, I obtained five other qualifications: specialist in international negotiations in English, marketing specialist, manager, business analyst, and even web-designer. Yes, I really love to learn.
Before joining IT, I had been working in banking for 13 years and had worked my way up from a simple specialist to the head of the department. I was even chairman of the bank's trade union, and I thought that was the most exciting time in my life.
Starting a career in IT
— One day, a headhunter from an outsourcing IT company contacted me and suggested that I consider a position as a business analyst. I had not taken any specialized courses before that moment, and had not thought about the IT field. I explained to the recruiter that I had doubts about whether I should go for an interview, but she was very insistent. Thanks to her for that!
I was hesitant, apprehensive, and I asked people who already worked in IT about the field. All unanimously pushed me to change my profession, and I decided to make this radical change. I felt like I stepped into the abyss blindfolded.
I thought I knew English very well, given that I had studied in English, plus I had experience working with foreign banks. Once I got into IT, however, I realized that my English was still far from perfect.
When other business analysts around me would start discussing something with customers in fluent English, my heart would drop to my heels. I admired their speech and feared that mine was not as good. As it turned out, I didn't understand a third of what the developers said and wrote to me, though the team was very supportive. It was very difficult for me to talk in technical language; I did not understand many of the terms.
Then, I went on to business analysis courses. After that, I took agile methodology courses, IT management courses, project management courses, and web design courses. I did not stop striving to improve my knowledge, although I often got discouraged.
At the same time, I brought up my daughter, continued studying for a master's degree at evening school, volunteered at WITA.by (a mentoring project for women in IT), ran a Telegram channel, gave speeches, helped people write resumes and choose a profession, and most importantly, did not give up! I helped several dozen people get into IT, and I still do. My parents always helped me on my way, my sister and my girlfriends supported me.
What gives IT to people
— At some point, I realized that it is people who help me, even though it seemed like I was helping them. I see their fears and I overcome my own. After only 9 months of work, I became a project leader and one of the few women in a managerial position in the company.
After a year and a half of work in IT, I decided to try my hand at the job market, and I started interviewing. Again, I lacked knowledge. Although I had experience, I failed some interviews and I started to study hard again.
I must say that at this point, I almost started my own IT business — I had prepared everything together with my American partners. I was a couple of weeks away from registering a new company, but then the year 2020 came and the world was hit by a pandemic.
It was in the midst of the coronavirus era that I found my current job.
— In 2021, I decided to take another unbelievable step for me — to change continents and move to one I had never been to. With my daughter and my dog.
It was my daughter who pushed me to take this step. She often told me that I had "outgrown the Belarusian lakes, and it was time for me to measure the ocean." That is how we ended up in the United States. The company helped a lot with the relocation.
In 2022, I packed one big suitcase, took my favorite things, and bought one-way tickets for the first time in my life. Work was the only thing that remained a constant in my life. Everything else was completely changed.
After 5 months, I must admit that relocation to the USA is for strong-minded people, and there is nothing simple about it. On the plus side, I am surrounded here by brave and intelligent people. I thought I had done something incredible, but then I met a girl who is raising five kids alone and wants to change careers. Every time I think I've overcome a challenge, I meet people who have overcome five times as much as I have. So, I always have something to learn.
IT in the US
— In the US, I saw nothing new in the field of IT, although my expectations were high. Here, you find the same huge number of people dreaming of entering this field, and the same problems, fears, and doubts along the way.
There are, however, small communities of people here who help each other get into IT. I'm often asked to speak, to help with advice, to start a club for juniors.
In addition to all the other changes in my life, I got married in the US. I met my support and backbone, and that made my relocation to this far from easy country as smooth as possible. My husband turned out to be an IT specialist, too. And I should mention that my sister has been working in IT for eight years and my father got into this field at the age of 63.
Plans for the future
— In my profession, I would like to outgrow myself as much as possible and become, I'm not afraid of this phrase, the happy owner of my own IT company. Or at least a Product owner. I’ve already taken steps toward this goal.
— My main message to everyone who wants to get into IT — never stop. Take even small steps to achieve your goals. Don't be afraid to fall a thousand times. Get up, roll up your sleeves, and keep going despite all fears and doubts. Improve in your field. Find people who support you. Set aside those who don't believe in you. Make sure you help others on the road to your happiness. It will all come back to you. Believe in yourself.
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