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  • Writer's pictureSirja Sulakatko

The Journey from Furniture Manufacturing to Software Development




Kirsi Valk, a graduate of Work In Tech 2022 program, has a formal education from Hotel and Tourism field, where she worked almost 10 years. At some point, wishing to have a more stable work schedule, she graduated a Masters in Business Administration and pivoted her career to B2B account management in furniture production where she worked nearly another10 years.


Before joining the Work In Tech program she was a stay-at-home mom with 3 kids - 2 of them were already in elementary school, but the smallest one was 2,5 years old when she started learning the program.


"After having my third child I really got used to staying home for my kids and the thought of going back to work scared me, because I wasn´t that confident in my abilities and skills after such a long period of being away from work. Besides, I still had many responsibilities with my kids, so I needed to find a job with more flexibility but still with an income that would let me support the family. But I think the biggest challenge for me was actually finding a job that would be interesting and would keep me motivated and happy. I knew I didn´t want to go back to my old workplace, 10 years in one place where there was no progression didn´t appeal me at all and the thought of taking the time away from my kids and start working somewhere where I am not happy terrified me."


A career counselor from the Estonian Unemployment Fund recommended the Work In Tech program: a free reskilling initiative, where learners acquire a professional certification of "Google IT Support professional" - giving them the foundations to pursue a career in the IT field. Kirsi gained the confidence and skills for a career in IT, appreciating the industry's flexible schedules, continuous learning, and diverse projects.


"The program's structure allowed me to take courses at my convenience, making it easy to stay motivated. Some technical courses were challenging, but overcoming them was rewarding."


Besides the Work In Tech program, Kirsi joined a free international mentoring program for women pursuing a career in IT, and a summer IT bootcamp, organised by a software development company Proekspert AS. At the bootcamp her coordination and communication skills were noticed. She secured a position at Proekspert AS after proactively approaching their HR manager. Now in her second year, she works as a Product Owner in embedded engineering projects, focusing on delivering value to customers and managing development processes.


"I work in a department that handles embedded engineering projects, which means that we implement software into different physical devices. As a Product Owner I am responsible for the product to bring as much value as possible for the customer, overseeing the roadmap and necessary tasks to get the product completed and also communicating with different stakeholders throughout the development process."


Today, besides working at Proekspert, Kirsi helps with running our reskilling programs and shares her insights about the IT industry with career counselors and other women seeking to find a job in IT. If you would like to get some guidance from her, feel free to reach out via kirsi@smartwork.ee, or via Linkedin.





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