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From literature major to backend developer: Sadie’s journey to Adjust

For this month’s employee story, we had a chat with Junior Backend Developer Sadie Balsom to hear about her experiences at Adjust and learn about life working in tech in Berlin.

Sadie works at the Adjust headquarters in Berlin as part of the tech team, and like many of our employees, has a diverse background in a variety of fields. Having spent most of her life studying literature and languages, she made the switch to the world of tech after completing a coding bootcamp.

Can you tell us a bit about your working background and what you studied?

For most of my life, I studied French and English, completing my Bachelor in literature in Portland Oregon, and my Master in comparative literature in Paris. While I was initially interested in going into journalism and publishing, after graduating, I was facing a pretty saturated job market.

I also felt like I wanted to exercise the math/logic-oriented part of my brain - to do something more scientific. A friend, who had recently attended a coding bootcamp in California, suggested that I try learning how to code. I remember visiting her and reading the code she had written in Ruby. It was cryptic to me at the time, but I was intrigued. I then found the Paris-based Le Wagon bootcamp, and moved to Germany after graduation to try my luck.

It was a gamble, but through a mix of luck and hard work, I landed the job at Adjust about three months after finishing my bootcamp. I had heard about Adjust through a friend of mine who did the same bootcamp, and was excited by the prospect of working in proximity to data science. I received a few job offers but picked Adjust as they made such a positive impression, and I was keen to work for a well-established company that could offer security.

What was it like making the change from the arts into coding?

As soon as I completed my first coding tutorial on Codeacademy (where I learned Ruby fundamentals), I felt like a part of my brain just lit up. It felt right. The more I learned, the more I wanted to continue learning - and this enthusiasm and thirst for knowledge did not stop when I was hired at Adjust.

One of the great things about Adjust is that we have an education budget, which means we’re always able to develop our skills. I’m currently taking an online course in Python and data science, with the support of my manager. I’m very glad to have this support and to be continuously encouraged to learn and grow as a developer.

What has the experience within the Adjust tech team been like?

When I was hired, I knew the basics of Ruby and Rails development and little Javascript - just enough to make a website for myself and present a few hobby projects in my portfolio. Since day one, I’ve made it my goal to master these skills and continue adding to my repertoire.

When I was first hired, the idea of working directly with Adjust products was intimidating - what if something goes wrong? Taking into account the pandemic and working remotely, as well as being new to the company and industry, my first months definitely had its challenges. I’ve certainly come a long way since then, and now feel very confident in my work. Since joining, my knowledge of Elixir has grown exponentially, and I feel like I’m able to make very valuable contributions to Adjust products. I’ve also picked up additional responsibilities on inter-team projects. I like to have my fingers in many pots!

Where do you hope to see your career in tech take you?

I’m currently working on my data science skills, mainly using Python libraries like Numpy, Pandas and Matplolib to analyze and visualize data. The course I’m following promises a future section on machine learning, which is a really interesting topic for me.

Before I became a developer, I was already interested in Natural Language Processing (NLP). It represents a crossover between data science and linguistics, but I didn’t have the technical skills to tackle it at the time. Maybe now I can finally realize this goal which has been sitting in the back of my brain for years.

Otherwise, I’m a geek for data serialization and understanding how computers work. I’m fascinated by computer science and the internet. As a child, understanding how these things I used every day actually worked was always a mystery to me. Now I have the chance to pull back the curtain and understand these tools on a fundamental level, and that’s very exciting.

We’re always on the lookout for great talent, and we also have plenty of open positions across our international offices - from Berlin to Beijing. Check them out here, or head over to our careers page to learn more about how we work.

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