Plamena Alexandrova is a young and ambitious person who likes to set high goals for herself, and this is exactly what motivated her to become part of the IT field. Currently, she is a software engineer at Sirma Solutions, responsible for the client side of the applications or the so-called front-end of the projects.
What was your first job and how did you start your career at the company?
My first job was at the Ministry of Economy, as it was closely related to my economics bachelor. I am a dynamic and social person, and this environment did not suit my character, so back then, I decided to reorient myself by enrolling in a second bachelor degree in Public Relations and started working in a PR agency. Those years were exciting and I gained a lot of experience and acquaintances, but as interesting as the work as a PR is, it is also quite exhausting, so I decided to retrain. It was not easy for me in the beginning, but with the support of my husband and strong motivation from my side, during my motherhood, I managed to graduate with good success from an IT academy that was partnering with Sirma Solutions. The company had looked at my resume and they invited me for an interview, that’s how my adventure in the IT world began.
How did you prepare yourself for the interview and what do you remember from it?
I was theoretically prepared for the interview and had written code for a given task, I remember it very well. I was the only one who asked for a physical meeting, and that happened in early 2022, when everything was still online because of the pandemic. I believe that in any meeting, the two-way process of communication plays a very important role. It is not only important for the company to like you, but also that you yourself gain an impression of the environment and your future colleagues. My interview lasted longer than expected because my colleagues and I talked about a variety of topics. I believe this is also important and more and more IT companies are starting to value the so-called soft skills. After the interview, I left with a smile, which was a key moment for me.
What did you know about the company before you started?
Before starting to work at the company, I didn’t do any research about it because online, you can easily get a negative opinion about a particular employer, since the satisfied employees rarely write comments. That’s why I wanted to form my own opinion. It was only before the interview that I came across an article about the Happiness Manager and Sirma’s employee development policies, which gave me a pretty good impression of the company’s culture. From what I wrote, I understood that this is a company that really cares about its people and how they feel at their workplace.
What surprised you when you actually started working in the company?
I knew that I was moving from a small agency to a large company with more colleagues, and yet I was pleasantly surprised by several things that were quite important to me. The main thing was the personal treatment I received from my colleagues in the team, from the very first day of work, despite their busy schedules. I was also impressed by how the people in Sirma do not correspond to the image of the “typical developer”, but are extremely diverse in terms of characters and interests, with whom we immediately became friends and, apart from the office, we also see each other outside of working hours. Also, the work process is very pleasant and often fun, thanks to the internal weekly events that the Happiness Manager organizes for us, as well as the team buildings where we have the opportunity to get to know more colleagues. Last but not least, I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that I was involved in a real project and saw how my theoretical knowledge was applied in practice.
How long did the search process take to get started and what was the biggest challenge?
For me, the process lasted about two weeks. I had several interviews and offers from different companies, but I settled on Sirma, because of the overall impression of the initial contact and my gut feeling that this is my place. For me, it was rather a challenge to return to work after motherhood, to entrust the care of my daughter to someone else, to change my workplace, field, and colleagues. Everything was challenging at that moment, slightly scary, but also very exciting and interesting.
How did it go and did anyone help you?
Of course, all the time, I had the support of my husband and my family, for which I am very happy and grateful.
In terms of support in the work process, Sirma has a mentoring policy. As a new member of the team, I also needed a mentor to rely on, and thanks to this practice, as well as sharing knowledge with my colleagues, I was able to fit into the company much faster and get used to the work.
What do you think was key in the whole process of getting to an interview and being offered to start at the company?
Persistence, desire to develop, understanding of the subject and a combination of soft skills. Of course, I also had moments during the interview where I was nervous, but I think that’s completely normal. The important thing is to show a desire to work in the given company and to be well prepared, this always makes the biggest impression on the interviewers.