Meet Ieva: From Sales Manager to Front-End Engineer

Apr 14
Kilo Heroes

Changing your job can be very stressful. But what about changing the whole field you’re working in? After becoming a mom, Ieva Kaleginienė had the courage to drop her career in sales and start from scratch as a front-end developer. She wouldn’t change that decision for the world.

Would you like to check out the full interview? Listen to Ieva’s story on Spotify and Apple podcasts.

Ieva, you had quite a journey. Please tell me how did you end up sitting here in front of me and working as a full-time developer at Kilo Health?

I’ve been working as a salesperson for about nine years. And I started as an insurance consultant, kept growing, and ended up selling IT services for B2B clients. I was quite successful, but something just didn’t feel right. I was quite unhappy and started stressing out.

And as I mentioned, I’ve been working with IT companies. I started working pretty closely with programmers, and I started to follow and watch how the programmers of our companies do their job. And it looked so cool. Could you just imagine: they write some pieces of code on their black screens, and something starts working, and it’s happening right now in front of my eyes.

It looks like magic.

It looked like magic to me. And still does, actually. Back then, I just started wondering about a programming career, but it all just sounded like a joke. And after some time, I just decided that I could not take this anymore, and I needed to make some changes and started looking for opportunities.

But I wasn’t brave enough to think about the programming. Back then, about six or seven years ago, there weren’t that many success stories about people who changed their careers. Especially success stories about women who changed their careers into programming. Communities such as Woman Go Tech were just kicking off. 

And then my daughter was born. I just decided that I need to change everything, and I will not get back to my old job after my maternity leave. When she was born, I felt like I was capable of anything, and there was nothing to be scared about. I just started believing in myself more.

Was it hard to learn to program as a young mom?

Yeah, motherhood inspired me, but it wasn’t easy to learn programming with a baby on your hands. But still, the only thing I regret about this whole career-changing thing is I just wasn’t brave enough to do it a few years earlier. 

And I’ve been thinking: what would the worst-case scenario be? And the worst thing that could happen would be that I wouldn’t be able to get a job in the new field. But that’s okay; I could go back to sales as I did before. In any case, I would’ve at least learned some new things.

So that’s why I just don’t know why I didn’t ask those questions earlier. It would’ve been really easy to learn programming and coding without a baby on my hands. But still, I’m glad that I could make it.

What are the qualities that I need to become a front-end developer?

I’m 100% sure that every engineer, no matter the field, should get ready to learn. In front-end development, every week, month, or year new tools are coming up. New versions of old tools are coming up. New devices are created each year. New versions, new designs, new functionalities, new features. And these devices are using our web applications, websites – so these systems and applications should be applied to those changes. So that’s for sure what you will need to learn every day. 

And if you want to learn every day, you need discipline. You’ll need to dedicate some time just to read some documentation, watch videos, check out conferences, and so on. 

So I guess these two traits, such as discipline and curiosity, are the most important. And regarding other technical things: if you like it, you will learn it. It’s not a problem.

Are there any similarities between sales and engineering? Is there anything that is in common between these two fields?

One thing that I completely see in both fields is deadlines. Deadlines are everywhere.

And the other thing is collaboration. Sometimes development can be a solo show, for instance, when a freelancer does everything. But in most cases, if we are talking about bigger projects, it involves a team. 

So as a salesperson, for example, I used to collaborate with the marketing team, with engineers that implemented the services I’ve been selling, and with our support team. In engineering, I work with product owners, UX, UI designers, and other technical people, such as back-end engineers. So yeah, collaboration in both fields is really important.

The last one is the need to focus on the customer. As a salesperson, I thought about customer experience, how I’m going to sell this product, how this implementation would end up, and who managed this process. As a front-end developer, I always focus on the end user who is going to use my app. This whole journey that we are going through, the product development, is all about the user. At the end of the day, we are making their life better, solving their problem, and trying to make the app or website easier to use for the customer.

Working as an engineer, I need to step into my customer’s shoes quite often.

How did your experience as a salesperson convert into your daily work today?

I think that the creativity I learned in sales is really important in every engineer’s life. Because in the front end, it’s not just only about writing some code – it’s about thinking what’s visible to the end user. 

And it requires creativity to make this whole product usable from the very beginning. You need to decide not only what code and what functions you need to write but how it is going to work. At the same time, you need to create the architecture of this whole code base and think a few steps ahead. It requires lots of creativity to make those decisions.

I noticed one difference between sales and front-end development or engineering in general. In sales life, you cannot choose whom to talk to or how much you communicate in general. It doesn’t matter if you didn’t sleep last night – you just need to go to the client, be nice, and sell the product. As a front-end developer or engineer, I can choose to how much I want to participate and communicate with others.

Also, a job in sales depends on lots of unpredictable forces. A sales representative must have a good set of communication, negotiation, and psychological skills in general. These skills are hard to measure and apply. So the end goal of selling a product depends on both – the person who is selling the product and the client’s mood, knowledge, or readiness to buy. The client might say that they will buy your service, and then change their mind. So sometimes, when the negotiations get stuck, you need to have lots of creativity, but you still won’t be sure if you will solve the problem.

On the other hand, if you’re stuck on implementing the feature or on fixing a bug – you always know that somewhere in the code. The answer is hidden, and you just need to find it. Computers do not wake up one day and change their mind.

What’s your advice to someone who’s considering making this change?

Don’t waste so much time doubting yourself as I did. Just try new things. It doesn’t matter if we are talking about the front-end engineering or some other field. If you don’t like your job, keep looking at which position sounds better. 

What could be the worst-case scenario of this change? That you won’t find a job in the new field? I guess, in most cases, you would be able to come back to the field you work in now. We spend one-third of our lives working. We live in such a perfect time when all the information is right in our hands. There are tons of various courses on the internet. So, just try it.

Dedicate some time to learning new things, be disciplined, and you will find your path for sure. And the sooner you will find it, the more time you will have to enjoy it.

Would You Like to Start a New Career in Tech?

Check out Kilo Academy – we are constantly looking for new talent who have the ambition and drive to make a change in the world.

Rytis Cekauskas
Social Media Lead at Kilo Health
A normal everyday guy with a great sense of humor. He does social media in his spare time, struggles to learn to play the piano, and loves taking pictures of random people he meets.

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