Engineering and Product
Daria Derecha, Junior Software Engineer at Serato
Dreams of becoming a zoologist, journalist and/or athlete were quickly derailed the first time Daria Derecha, Junior Software Engineer at Serato first picked up a computer game. Having immigrated from the Ukraine, Daria worked a number of years in hospitality before studying software engineering.
We caught up with Daria to learn more about her career journey into working in tech, why she thinks a stint in hospitality would be good for everyone and why she loves working amongst a talented group of people at Serato. Great to have you in New Zealand Daria and thanks for sharing your story.
“Software engineers at Serato create cool music creation tools with virtual building blocks.”
Firstly, how would you explain to a five year old what it is you do?
Together, software engineers at Serato create cool music creation tools with virtual building blocks. And we also solve puzzles that make sure these tools are super reliable so that music artists can always count on them when making music or playing live.
And for the adults, what does that translate to in regards to your day-to-day?
See above but with fancier words ;) We collaborate with product owners who figure out what our engineers can do to make DJs and musicians’ lives oh so much easier. And then we do it. Simple!
What are some of the common misconceptions about working as a software engineer at Serato?
You have to know how to DJ or be a musician to work at Serato -- Although there are heaps of incredible musicians and talented DJs working at Serato, it is not at all a prerequisite. It is a fantastic starting ground if you are keen to get into mixing, though.
You have to know it all -- many young Software Engineers, especially those underrepresented in the industry, suffer from so-called imposter syndrome. We tend to feel that we must know everything to be successful in a role.
This is not the case; no one expects a graduate to understand all the intricacies of C++ on the first day (can anyone claim that they do?) or know the way around the codebase.
Don’t be ashamed and use your lack of knowledge in something as an opportunity to ask questions and draw from other people’s experience. This is a fast track to becoming an expert!
There is no room for a mistake -- this is the bane of a juniors’ existence; most of us are terrified of getting things wrong. I find there is no better way to learn how to do things right than getting them utterly wrong at first. Befriend your patience and perseverance!
“I dreamt of being a zoologist, journalist, athlete...that was all before I played a computer game for the first time...”
Was working in tech something you dreamed about doing as a kid, if not what was?
I dreamt of being a zoologist, journalist, athlete...that was all before I played a computer game for the first time (thank you, Diablo), and my life changed forever. I got entirely mesmerised by computers and tech in general, and there was no coming back from it.
Tell us a little bit more about your career journey and ultimately about how you ended up working at Serato?
Despite always being interested in computers and technology, my professional career started in hospitality. After finishing high school, I immigrated to NZ from Ukraine with my big Slavic family.
We took over La Vista, a Spanish restaurant down in St Heliers bay. We all worked very hard to revitalise the business and make it into a thriving venue, and I played my part working as a maitre d’.
I dreamt of doing higher education, but I could not enrol at Uni as it was way too expensive to study as an international student. Instead, I worked in a bunch of cool restaurants and bars across Auckland, earning money and working on becoming a NZ resident in the meantime.
Hospitality is a fascinating industry to be in with heaps of things to learn, incredible people to meet, and great stress to endure: I genuinely believe that every person should have at least a little taste of working in hospo.
After becoming a permanent NZ resident, I enrolled to a software engineering programme at the University of Auckland and got involved with SESA - Software Engineering Students Association. Serato truly believes in the value of young unspoiled minds, so we support and get involved in student communities.
I learned about Serato at one of the SESA’s industry nights and ended up landing an internship in the Web department. This was a gratifying and fun experience, so applying for a grad role was without question.
And here I am today, proudly working on Serato DJ!
“Don’t be set in your ways and put too much pressure on yourself for choosing the right path. ”
What is the best piece of career advice you have ever received?
Don’t be set in your ways and put too much pressure on yourself for choosing the right path. Embrace the courage to try things out, be open to new ideas, and have the patience to see where life takes you, making the most out of any circumstances you may be in. I wish I received this advice a bit earlier in life!
What do you love about working at Serato?
It is very easy to be proud and passionate about what we do when we see talented artists using Serato products. You cannot help but think, “I am a part of it. How freaking cool is that!”.
Serato is made by its people, and it is mindblowing how many talented, interesting, and cool folk there are. Everyone has a story to tell, there is a great diversity of backgrounds, and Serato’s company culture embraces this diversity. As a young engineer, I feel very inspired, encouraged, and supported by the people I work with.
Lastly, Serato continues to grow and evolve. What kind of candidates do you think Serato is looking for in terms of experience, attitude and character?
The running theme with Serato folk is that we have a genuine interest and curiosity in what we do; we are fast to adapt and keen to keep learning. Being such a diverse group, it is important to stay down to earth and be easy to connect and collaborate with. If that’s who you are, it’s a match!