Our colleague, Justina, has an interesting story. She has taught Computer Aided Technology to high schoolers from 9th grade till 13th grade, then started working as a developer and Team Lead. Ever since she was a kid, Justina was attracted to exact sciences and she decided to become a developer at the 9th grade prom. Read this new #WeAreModex interview to find out more about Justina’s career and the values she believes in.

Our chat starts with a brief overview of Justina’s education. “I went to a Mathematics-Informatics high school, then I took my bachelor in Mathematics-Computer science (June 2008) at the Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science, University of Bucharest. And in February 2010 I took my Master Degree in Applied Computer Science at the same Faculty. During that period, I also got my first job as a teacher of Computer Aided Technology and Information and Communication Technology at a high school in Bucharest. I was teaching kids from 9th grade till 13th grade.”

Right place at the right time

Speaking about her time as a teacher, Justina adds: “It was not something that I planned, I just happened to be in the right place at the right time when our English teacher asked if one of us was willing to go and work at the school where her husband was the principal because he really needed a teacher as soon as possible. So me and another colleague agreed to do it. It was an interesting experience, and I was glad I did it just to be sure I’m not losing anything if I will just follow my programmer career. I enjoyed working with kids. You feel accomplished when they are so happy and proud about the things they learned under your guidance.”

Learning new things as developer and Team Lead

Teaching was just a part of Justina’s personal evolution. She recalls: “I knew that I could do more than that, so after I finished Faculty I got a job as developer at Temenos, the company where I worked for more than 11 years. And Modex is the second company where I’ve been working now for more than a year. During my time at Temenos I worked on different projects, both as a developer and as a team lead. I learned a lot of things, I met a lot of people and I could say that it was an interesting and challenging journey with both good things and bad things. But this is life, we enjoy the good things and we learn from the bad ones.”

Attracted to exact sciences since an early age

We were curious to see when and how did Justina decide to become a developer and have a career in tech. “Ever since I was a child I was attracted to exact sciences, maybe I inherited them from my mother, who was a math teacher. When I was in school I liked mathematics, later when I started to study chemistry, I also liked this science and the same thing happened with computer science. But I’ve never liked physics, for instance, probably also the teacher had a big impact here. I had my first interaction with computers and programming language in gymnasium, but I don’t remember starting from which grade exactly, 7th maybe.”

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Deciding to become a developer at the 9th grade prom

What do high school proms and the tech industry have in common? At lot, it seems, at least in Justina’s case. “I decided that I must become a developer in 9th grade, at the prom. Probably you are smiling now and wondering what the prom has to do with this decision, but let me clarify it. I overheard a discussion between our computer science teacher and some of my colleagues about the fact that in Bucharest more and more programmers are hired and the salary is quite good, and he also mentioned that there are not enough people for this job and in his opinion this is a job of the future, which demand for it constantly growing.”

“I don’t remember anything else from that discussion, but I remember very clearly that I was outside, it was already night and I said to myself that this is what I must try to do in life: becoming a programmer! And I had three main reasons: it seemed to be a safe job (I will not need to worry that I can lose my job), I will have my own income and I will not depend on anybody else (I will even be able to help my parents). On top of that, I said to myself that it would be something I will enjoy doing”, adds our colleague.

Perfect timing for joining Modex

“I started working at Modex in January 2020”, says Justina. “I worked on my previous job with Alin Iftemi and Laura Manescu, and when the opportunity appeared to work with them again, so I accepted it immediately. The proposal came at the best time because I was analyzing my professional career and I was thinking that a change would be good for me. I believe that there is a moment in every person’s life when you have to stop, analyze what you have achieved so far and decide if you are satisfied or if you could try to achieve more. So, after more than 11 years with the same company, I decided I cannot evolve anymore there and I should start working in a different company if I want to have the chance to also write code – not just to review and manage teams –  and to have my work recognized and appreciated.”

Solving challenging tasks to achieve the best results

As a Back-end Developer, which are some of the most important tasks Justina has worked on since arriving at Modex?”When I joined Modex I started to get familiar with the server APIs used by Moneymailme by writing JUnit tests. Afterwards, I created the documentation website where I described all the payment framework APIs, and I must say that I’ve managed to do it in a very short period of time (about 2 – 3 weeks only).”

Then I started to work on the server side of a project for a client in the US, a mobile application that allows a user to send money to his family and friends outside the US and also to pay their bills or to top up their phones. This project is using the Modex BCDB technology and will go live in the coming weeks.

Many of the tasks received were challenging. “On the one hand due to the technology, and on the other hand due to the functionality itself that had to be implemented. In addition, there was also the time factor that needed to be taken into account. I tried to find a balance between all of them in order to achieve the best expected result.” 

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A pleasant and dynamic work environment at Modex

What’s it like to work at Modex? Justin shares her thoughts on this: “While thinking about changing my job, one of the things that scared me was the unknown variable related to the people from that new company. How will they be? How easy can I talk and interact with them? Can I ask them for help? But Modex shattered all these worries because there are many people I already knew and the transition was very smooth. Regarding the office space, I like the idea of having an entire floor where we can meet and discuss work, but also talk about different other things. This way you can interact with your colleagues and get to know them better, especially on the personal level. Being on the Bucharest hub, the views are amazing, overlooking a neighboring park.”

Justina confirms that if you’re surrounded by the right people, office work will seem easier and more pleasant. “Because of the pandemic, I didn’t actually spend too much time at the office. I joined Modex in January 2020, then from mid-March we started working from home. But still, as short as it was, I liked it, and already knowing some people made everything much easier. The communication with my colleague is not a problem, everything goes smoothly. Even the people I didn’t know before turned out to be very friendly, willing to help me and very communicative”.

A creative journey, both professionally and personally

Curious to find out how Modex has helped Justina evolve, both on the personal level, as well as professionally? “The first thing that Modex did for me was to allow me to have a healthy balance between work and personal life. The work is only 8-9 hours a day and the rest of it is personal life, not the other way round. Secondly, it gave me the opportunity to write code again, because lately I was only doing reviews and people management. It felt good to take a break from all the team’s tasks and responsibilities and only to worry about my tasks. Last, but not least, Modex helped me to improve my programming experience by learning new technologies like Play framework, Javascript, vueJS, Docsify, and by also deepening my Java knowledge.”

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The demand for developers will continue to grow

Looking ahead, will the demand for developers continue to grow? Justina believes so. “It will definitely grow because mankind is moving towards automating as many things as possible in order to make life easier for individuals, to speed up the processes that would take forever otherwise, to increase the individual’s free time so that he can invest in his personal life and do things he enjoys, etc. The current pandemic has also highlighted these things, and even accelerated this process. In addition, because a lot of things are starting to be automated, the need for securing data is even more important and necessary than ever. This is actually one of the main things that Modex wants to provide to its clients.”

Skills needed in order to become a developer

Speaking from her experience as a developer, Justina has a few recommendations for those passionate about tech who would like to have a career in this field. “I believe that if you like what you do, then everything will be possible. If you are passionate about something, you will be determined to achieve it no matter what. I believe it’s also useful to possess an analytical thinking, to think outside the box, to be organized, and willing to learn new things all the time.”

How does it feel to be a woman in tech?

More and more women are starting to affirm themselves in the tech industry, so we’ve also asked our colleague to share her thoughts on this topic. “I have never felt that I was treated differently by my colleagues just because I’m a woman. Unfortunately, in some cases, with management is a different story because some of the people at the helm of a company may tend to give smaller salaries just because you are a woman and even if you have achievements they will not be able to acknowledge them. However, I’d like to think that this is something which is less and less happening nowadays.”

Advice for women who are seeking a tech career?

“They should focus on their work and do it as best as they can!”