Inspiration?! A friend gave me the link to Github’s Passion Projects on Youtube. It was really interesting to watch and listen to those women talking about what they do so it started me thinking. It’s like the question recruiters always ask when interviewing candidates: what is your greatest achievement so far? The truth is that in my opinion most people lie about this because they try so hard to tell the interviewer something he/she wants to hear. So I am going to answer truthfully to that question in this post.
Whenever I think about the things I’ve done so far it is hard for me to choose a single specific thing (not that I’ve somehow brought fabulous changes to the world) and name it my greatest achievement which is why I will go for my passion project instead. So let’s talk about Droidcon Eastern Europe.
Droidcon Eastern Europe is like the Comic Con of the Android world. In exactly 10 days (October, 7-8th) the second edition will take place In Bucharest and it will also be the second time I’m part of the organisers’ team. While I’m not a kick ass Android developer (nor will I ever be since I’m not pursuing this career path), but merely a fresh engineering graduate I absolutely love this event. It is meant to bring together developers, designers and people that work in the industry so that they can share knowledge, experience and learn from each other. It is the kind of event where you can actually feel the energy and emotions of those present. There are people present there with such different backgrounds that can absolutely dazzle you. I know that when first thinking about it you can say that there are tons of conferences, workshops or expos where you could go and do/learn stuff but how many of them challenge and empower you? How many conferences have you been to that have given you the energy, drive and belief that you can do the things you dream of? How many times have you had the opportunity to be around talented and passionate people? Even without them acknowledging it, this kind of people will make you want to become better and push your limits. I remember some of my colleagues from college telling me that they’re not going to conference X because they are senior and they don’t feel prepared to talk to people with that kind of experience. They were afraid to make a fool of themselves for being at the stage of learning and discovering and I admit that even I felt that way a few times, but definitely not at Droidcon Eastern Europe. Where and when are you supposed to get the courage to do it? Instead of feeling “stupid” among bright people participants should feel empowered and seek advice from them so that they can grow as professionals and individuals. It’s why I wanted to do this project, it’s my only “benefit”. I get to meet and talk to people that are incredible and believe it or not I observe them and learn things from them. It is the kind of project that I would beg to be able to do or be a part of. I remember the feeling I had after the 2012 edition. When I got home after it ended I said “wow”! It has been a tremendous journey and I look forward to enjoying the 2013 edition.
Last week I went to a meeting which made me think a lot about the combination of skills, education & passion for work. So I threw a look back at some of the things I have been doing and see if I can make better sense of it.
We start with how do you choose a job? How do you know what fits you best? How do you know what you are/can be good at? Let’s say that the luckiest people are able to figure it out. They make a decision based on the answer to these questions and then the job search starts. Well, things will get weird and twisted from this point onward. Because, as I have discovered, it is so damn hard to find something that you like and fits you. At some point we compromise. We choose to do something we enjoy very much and we pour our heart and soul into it from an early stage. But the thing is, people will take advantage of your dedication and skills. You will keep devoting time and energy and hope it will get better and you’ll be appreciated for what you’re worth. It is true that in doing so you learn so many things that make you a better professional and a better person that when you start having doubts you get your energy from this. But at some point you’re past the learning phase and you feel like you need to be challenged and you need to be rewarded. After a year or more you will get a reality slap. Because no matter how good you feel about the things you’ve learned and the stuff you did, you can’t always do it almost for free. Because at some point you need to grow up and see that passion and dedication will not pay your rent. I might get judged for saying this, especially since I always advised my friends to try and do something they enjoy so that their work won’t become a burden, but the truth is you do need to earn. If you don’t, it will start tormenting you and you’ll go back to wondering about those 3 things from the beginning. I call this a charismatic mess. You start over and find out that it is annoyingly hard to find people who believe in you and/or your potential and who are willing to offer you a chance to prove something.
In the end, I would say think things through a million times. Try and do what you like, what makes you feel alive and what makes excitement run in your veins but do it carefully. There’s always a trap. Maybe, just maybe, your dedicated and passionate efforts are better put into something in your spare time.
You may think this is crazy but I have started discovering more about startups and how they are slowly but surely taking over the market a year ago. I knew there were small companies (web development or app development especially) but was never curious to see what’s behind their portfolio. The problem is I think I never considered the idea of a startup and what it means.
Of course things have changed. A lot! I am now surrounded by people who do great things and work hard to succeed. After I moved to Cluj-Napoca I shortly met the Cluj Hub team and then started coming here more and more often. I don’t have a startup myself but I really enjoy going there to do my project management work. It’s fun and most importantly inspiring. I’ve met a few people that do have startups and saw how they work and how smart, dedicated and enthusiastic they are. These people are really different in a good way. Hats off for the passion they bring into their work and their commitment. I somehow feel like I’m at Open Connect, at Starbucks. I used to feel inspired and get my weekly dose of energy from that meetup. I now feel lucky I get to know these special people here too.
Back to startups now! There are so many programmes, competitions and conferences that I think it started to get confusing. The successful startups I’ve encountered have been founded by groups of friends or maybe just 2 friends sharing a similar vision and wanting to combine their knowledge and intuition. I am skeptical towards one of the conference models where you have an idea and you try to find people to form a team. I don’t see that working smoothly because they are technically strangers and bonding so that they make things work out takes a lot of time. Regarding the competitions or the conferences where you can get funding I am rather curious how they choose one and what are the terms. Because support is extremely rare given purely out of good will. There has to be something there or maybe I am a bit paranoid. Nonetheless, the number of startups in the world is growing. What I am curious about is the impact this has on the big multinationals. They have started outsourcing to these companies and the trend is barely at the beginning. Does this mean that in the future they might consider giving up their employees and just do outsourcing to startups? Is this cheaper for them? Or will startups be bought and integrated into bigger companies?
I guess we’ll wait and see.
I know people tend to have all sorts of prejudices but the one that is frustrating to me right now is about age.
It seems that no matter how many things you know or how much experience you have when it comes to age you are suddenly too young to be doing it.
Seriously?! I know it may sound impossible to some of you but there are 25 year olds who are so good at what they do that they can manage teams of much older people. I admit that you need experience for a lot of projects and you also need the chance to earn that experience, to learn and become better but it is certainly not age constrained. What happened to skills, knowledge and potential?
Wake up, people! You cannot appreciate and respect someone only until you find out their age.
This sort of happened to me recently. I was great, really good at what I do and had solid knowledge and potential right before someone saw my date of birth and the fact that I graduated recently. From that moment I went from exceptional and talented to being too young and perhaps lacking the necessary authority. Also, being an engineer (as a woman) seemed to be confusing. Well, sorry to break this to you but the ability to study is not related to gender.
And yes, I may be young but I am also damn good at what I do and I have had enough responsibility and worked hard to get here so don’t change your mind and judge my abilities after you find out my age. It is irrelevant to the set of necessary skills.
There are moments when change is what you need to find the balance you are looking for and start enjoying things the way you should.
There comes a time when you have to think hard, to analyse and make a decision. So I did. I decided to move very far away from the city I lived in, from Bucharest to be more specific.
Am I crazy? No, I don’t think so. I am taking a leap of faith, I am choosing to take a risk, dive in and see what happens. I do enjoy this smaller western city. It is calm, patient and it makes you forget about stress. I like the fact that it is a lot cleaner there and that people (at least those I have the pleasure of meeting so far) are nicer. I admit I used to enjoy the rush and agitation in Bucharest until it became too much. Of course, this is definitely not the reason I am doing this but it is a strong argument in the equation.
The city is something I can live without but I do miss my old friends. They are the ingredient missing from it all but we know how to keep in touch and I like to think that we will.
Another thing is that I have quite a lot of ideas to work on and I need a fresh start to try them so yes, a leap of faith is sometimes exactly what we need.
We all have issues and we all have different ways of handling them. How we perceive things, changes, people differs quite a lot because of who we are individually.
My thoughts these days are concentrated on the idea of truth. Truth is a beautiful and yet terrible thing. It can turn your world upside down, it can put a smile on your face, it can break you to pieces or it can give you a sense of who you truly are and what you really want. It hurts, it helps, it empowers. So handle it with care! Sometimes it is a weapon of mass destruction…
Besides this, I would say that truth sets you free. It can have a life changing effect on you. Just think about it…I always said I’d rather be in pain than live a perfect lie or be lied to. Because no matter what, no matter how much it hurts or how much it makes you happy, the result is the same: it gives you strength. I’d rather know, than not know. Of course truth changes you or how you feel but this is how it’s supposed to be. Once you get hold of the it, especially after looking for it for some time, it feels so damn good to finally understand.
So if the truth puts a smile on your face, let it consume you. If it breaks you inside, think that this is the opportunity to heal your wounds and cover them with a stronger layer, to make you better than before.
It is always better to know, rather than wonder.