Alumni Stories

How to go from a veterinarian to a mobile developer [Q&A]

Flatiron School / 18 November 2015

When Nadia Yudina started her career path as a veterinarian, she never envisioned the possibility of becoming a mobile developer. But after attending med school in Russia and eventually building an app to sort research data at her job, Nadia realized that learning code was something she felt passionate about.

After moving to the United States, Nadia sought out a way to turn that interest into a real career. She took the iOS immersive at Flatiron School in Spring 2014, and is now a mobile developer at The Barbarian Group. Nadia spoke with us about what it’s like learning how to code in a different language, what she loves about programming, and what kinds of projects she’s working on now.

What were you doing before you started the iOS immersive?
I had a degree in veterinary medicine, which I got in Russia and I worked there for six years as a vet. Then I started coding because I needed it for my research. When I moved to the United States a couple years ago, that’s when I started to get into more serious computer programming.

What interested you in learning programming?
I was coding for some time by myself, mostly doing projects on Python and mainly for scientific purposes. At the time I liked it so much, I thought, “I may just as well choose this as a profession!” But at my age, there was really no way I could go to to college, plus I already have a degree and no experience. I thought, I could go into an immersive, and it would be a better field for me because I’m a big believer in mobile. I like it — it’s an intimate and personal experience. You can build one app, and reach so many people with it.

Nadia Yudina

Nadia worked as a veterinarian in Russia, until a side project at work took her on a different path.

How challenging was the program when you started here?
I had some background so it wasn’t too overwhelming — challenging for sure, but not overwhelming. The pre-work was very helpful because I like to code, I like to work, and I like to tease my brain. It was an ideal situation for me.

Tell me about the work you do now.
I work at a really interesting place! It’s called The Barbarian Group. They are an advertising company, but they do the whole cycle. People come up with the idea, design, and all the details of implementation and execution. There are about 200 people, but they are all very creative and have so much going on. Their office has been named several times over the best office ever because they have a unique desk that goes around the whole office and people work at one table. It’s just an example of how unconventionally they think.

What’s one of your favorite projects you’ve done since working there?
We worked on a project making optical character recognition code. The main idea was that the camera on your phone would be able to recognize writing on a piece of paper. You have to basically scan the codes from the cans without typing them in. It was pretty challenging learning it, but always interesting.

“Work a lot. Try to make your own apps…It’s good when you have something of your own.”

Russian is your native language. Is it difficult to code English in that respect?
No, it’s not hard! I started learning how to program in English — all lectures, all materials, everything. For me, it would be much more challenging if I were around Russian programmers because I don’t know how to code in Russian.

What are the biggest challenges you face as a mobile developer?
I think it’s the fact that you always have to be up to date, because I work with something that changes really quickly. Every year, they come up with a new feature or old features stop working. You want to enhance your work and to allow your users to have the latest experience, so it’s this living thing. You can never say, “Okay, I’m done.”

What is it like working as a woman in mobile development field? Have you ever encountered any difficulties?I’ve heard about it, but I’ve only seen the benefits so far. Programming immersives have beautiful programs — I probably couldn’t have had this profession if it weren’t for that opportunity. At my work place, I’m really fortunate to be in a group of people who don’t care about my gender, it just doesn’t matter.

Do you have any side projects you’re working on right now?
I’m actually building a game. On SheHacks Hackathon I met a very talented designer. Now I can be sure that this game will look great. It’s going to be a maze solving game with biological education as the theme. I think it will be interesting to anyone who likes gaming on their phones.

What advice would you have for people who are interested in mobile development?
Work a lot. Try to make your own apps. Even if it’s really simple, push it to the app store because it’s a certain experience every developer should have. It’s good when you have something of your own — that way you can show it to businesses you may want to work with.

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