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Engineering & Product

Lora Vardarova, Software Engineer at CoGo

A dream of playing basketball professionally did not quite materialise, however a winding path led to a career in software engineering with an underlying mission to change the world for the better. Lora Vardarova, Software Engineer at CoGo has had a really interesting career journey that many others can learn from.

Her insights hep dispel many of the common myths around who can become a software engineer and what the day-to-day actually looks like. On top of this, Lora has some great career advice for people that might not be happy where they are or that might be interested in exploring tech as a career path. Thanks for sharing your story, Lora.

“I sit in front of a computer, I type on a keyboard and I talk to a lot of people. This is literally what my six-year-old son thinks I do.”

Firstly, how would you explain to a five year old what it is you do?

I sit in front of a computer, I type on a keyboard and I talk to a lot of people. This is literally what my six-year-old son thinks I do. He also thinks that it is really fun and often asks me if he can help me :D

And for the adults, what does that translate to in regards to your day-to-day?

I work collaboratively with product managers, designers and other software developers to provide technical solutions that will bring us closer to a more sustainable future.

What are some of the common misconceptions about working in Software Engineering?

  1. Software developers write code all day long and don’t interact with people. This is completely wrong. Writing code is a small part of the actual job.
  2. All software developers are people who loved computers since a very young age. I know fantastic developers who decided to change careers in their 30s and 40s. It is never too late to learn coding.
  3. You need to study Computer Science to become a software developer. There are many software developers who are self-taught or attended bootcamps.
  4. Software development is really hard. Technology is easy, people are hard.
“I still have not given up on my dream of changing the world for the better!”

Was working in tech something you dreamed about doing as a kid, if not what was?

Definitely not. I wanted to become a basketball player but I wasn’t tall enough to be accepted into a professional team. My grandad believed that I would become a lawyer because of my long passionate speeches about the injustices in the (my) world.

I also wanted to have a business which employs disadvantaged people and gives them a chance to have a better future. I still have not given up on my dream of changing the world for the better!

Tell us a little bit more about your career journey and ultimately about how you ended up working at CoGo?

I studied Macroeconomics at university and also got a second degree in Accounting and Control. Soon after graduating I joined one of the Big Four accounting firms where I discovered that the corporate world is not for me.

While I was trying to figure out what I would like to do next, I joined a travel tech start up. In my role as customer care team lead, I had to work closely with the product and technology teams. After a couple of years I decided to study abroad and chose to pursue a degree in Multimedia Design and Communication.

One of the four core streams of this programme was programming which I absolutely loved (which was unexpected as I chose this programme because of the design stream). This degree led to another degree in web development and years of travelling around the world doing all sorts of work from web animations and games to applications used by millions of people.

“If you are working at a toxic workplace, just quit. You’ll definitely find a better working environment elsewhere.”

What is the best piece of career advice you have ever received?

If you are working at a toxic workplace, just quit. You’ll definitely find a better working environment elsewhere.

Do you have any advice for people considering tech as a career path and how they might get there quicker?

Go for it! There’s plenty of different opportunities to get into tech, just look for what is available and connect with people who have chosen this career path. Find your own path into tech. You don’t need a specific background to get into tech.

What is it specifically that you like about working at CoGo?

We have a great vision, it’s exciting to be working on solving some really important problems. There is a high level of trust and flexibility, which helps with work-life balance.

Lastly, CoGo continues to grow and evolve. What kind of candidates do you think CoGo is looking for in terms of experience, attitude and character?

People who are motivated and crave challenging work like changing the world for the better .

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