Hailing from sunny Spain, Alex Wong exchanged programming agricultural machinery back home for developing front-end applications in Vilnius. With Alex, we talked about learning to code online, LinkedIn connections and the hard choice of which Lithuanian basketball club to support.
What I like most about my job at the moment is the people I work with. At the point in my career I am right now, the people around me are the most valuable thing.
It wasn’t very straightforward. Back in Spain, I also had a tech-related job, but it was quite different from what I’m doing today. After graduating with a degree in Electronic Engineering, I worked for an agri-food company programming PLCs (programmable logic controllers), which are basically miniature computers that control machines. It was programming, but way more related to Electronic Engineering than my current job, which is software development.
While in Spain, I got interested in learning more about developing software. So I started taking some coding courses while working at my previous job. But it wasn’t until I moved to Lithuania that I began studying software development more extensively
I studied online, taking courses from different websites and following tutorials on YouTube. I think it’s easy to learn software development if you really want to, because you can find so many resources online. There are lectures you can listen to, but there are also places to ask questions, and there’s a big community of developers that’s willing to help. But I believe that the most important thing when studying is to not only take courses, but also practice what you’ve learned. Practicing actively helped me a lot, and after a year, maybe a year and a half of studying software development, I felt comfortable enough to look for my first job in this field.
It was, but I also feel that I got lucky. During my job search, I saw a lot of open positions, so I think there are a lot of opportunities for developers in Lithuania. But the story of how I ended up at my current job is pretty particular.
As I was searching for a job, I saw an interesting post by Boozt, the company I work at now, on LinkedIn, and sent them my CV. A couple of weeks later, an HR specialist from the company visited my LinkedIn profile, so, in turn, I visited hers. One of her contacts was a guy from Spain. When I went to his profile, I saw that he’s from my region, Valencia, and that we went to the same university. At the time, I didn’t know any Spanish people here, so I decided to contact him directly. I wasn’t expecting to be given a job interview or anything – I was simply curious to find another person from my region in Lithuania. I messaged him to ask a few questions about life in Lithuania and the work environment here. We set up a meeting, and after talking for an hour he decided to invite me for an interview at Boozt. I got the job, and I have been working as a front-end developer at Boozt for half a year now.
What I like most about my job at the moment is the people I work with. At the point in my career I am right now, the people around me are the most valuable thing. My colleagues are very nice and friendly, but more importantly, they’re always willing to help. I know that here, I can work on many great projects in the future and have a lot of opportunities. But right now, the most important thing for me at work is my team.
This is my first job in software development, so it wasn’t easy at the beginning. It takes time to adapt and learn everything when you’re in a new place. But if your colleagues are supportive, it’s easier, and here, people are supportive. They’re always sharing their knowledge, not only within the team, but also with other teams. That’s very important. And if you have any doubts, problems, or issues, they always try to help you solve them.
The biggest challenge was the obvious – the weather. In Valencia, we don’t have winter. Sometimes it gets cold, but it’s not the same as in Lithuania. Of course, I knew about the differences in weather before moving, but theory is very different from the actual lived experience. But I like the Lithuanian weather, because in a way, you can enjoy the sun more here. When the spring comes, people get crazy about the sun! On sunny days, everyone wants to be outside and do all kinds of things there. At first, I couldn’t understand this, but now I’ve learned to appreciate the nice weather more. I also like that there’s change, that you get all four seasons. Back in Valencia, you only get two seasons – it’s either hot or a little bit less hot.
I really enjoyed Nida last summer. It has a lot of long, empty beaches. In Valencia, it’s really hard to find a beach with no people. Also, beaches here are very close to the forest. That’s a completely different environment from the main beaches in Spain’s big coastal cities like Valencia. It was unexpected to find a spot like Nida in a northern country.
I also like living in Vilnius. The city is lively, there’s always something to do, you can find people everywhere. And the people here are open-minded as there are more internationals living in the city.
I’ve never played table tennis before moving to Lithuania, but I began playing it at the office as we have a ping-pong table. I liked it a lot, so I found a group of people on Facebook to practice with. It was also a good way to meet more people in Vilnius.
Back in Spain, I played basketball, which I continue to do in Vilnius with some friends. I’ve been to a couple of basketball games here, but I’ve not yet picked a Lithuanian club to root for. I have to be very careful when picking sides – my girlfriend is a Žalgiris fan, but my friend who takes me to all the games supports Rytas. It would be a difficult choice, so I prefer not to choose!