Darya Botova

AGE: 31
INTERESTS: I have done two Spartan races, I like to be outdoors, spend time with my family and we just got a dog who we named Foxy. I also like to build stuff, woodworking, major remodeling projects around the house.

Where are you from?

I am originally from Russia. Before I pursued a computer science degree I worked at a travel agency and I worked as a salesperson. Basically, I did everything before finally deciding on a tech job. I was a test engineer in Russia. Then we moved to the US around 10 years ago after my husband got a job. I moved before I finished my degree. I was in my last year, so I was considering going back to college to finish my degree.

What did you do before 42?

I stayed at home with my two little guys (I now have three children), but I had some projects to work on to keep me busy. On and off throughout the years I worked as a test engineer and took programming classes for transfer at local community colleges. I saw an article about 42, but before that, I was thinking of going to a traditional college. I was thinking of blending my experience as a test engineer and going back to work. Then I saw 42 and thought it was cool. So I applied online and got invited to the very first piscine. And after the 4 week piscine, I forgot about traditional school. I started to do projects here and got back to work.

Did you have any programming experience before 42?

Yes, I did. I had experience with programming languages Java and C#. I just did it out of wanting to create new projects for myself, used Google, some textbooks. For my job as a test engineer, I didn’t need to code.

What inspired you to pursue a career in tech?

Well, I am the kind of person who breaks everything by accident (laughs). When I discovered you can get paid for this, I worked as a test engineer because I could break things on purpose. After a while, I got bored just breaking stuff. I realized the best way to improve quality is not hunting for bugs but to create less of them. So while staying at home with my kids I decided to go from test to development and start learning new stuff. My husband is a software engineer as well, maybe he inspired me in some ways. I thought, “maybe I should try this as well.” Everyone around me knew what they wanted to do, but I didn’t know what to do. After the travel agency, I was in school and the idea of how cool coding is was put in my head. So my husband was a major influence.

How did 42 prepare you for the workplace?

Tremendously. It is really really close to a real work environment. Especially nowadays with big companies, all these skills to find the right person to find the right information and work hard. If you fail you must stand up and try again. At 42 I learned a lot about myself, I did stuff I never in my dreams thought I could do before. It was a beautiful experience. I keep on pushing myself harder because now I know I can do impossible things. The best way to learn is where there is little guidance. At 42 you can skip things you know, and for stuff you don’t understand you can take as much time as you need. And yeah, failure is okay. In the piscine, after 2 weeks, there were so many zeros. I like how at 42 there are so many people who like the same things, it is fun.

Were there any unique challenges attending 42 as a parent?

I have three kids, my girl turned 1 when I joined the piscine. It is only me and my husband taking care of these kids. I live in Santa Cruz and was commuting. If I came in the morning I couldn’t stay here longer than 2 pm because of the traffic, or my husband had to leave work early. So I would come here in the evenings because in the morning I had to watch the kids while my husband worked. For me, it was the first time I was brought to a completely different environment. Staying with kids is completely different. Here I had to work overtime. One day I was a stay at home mom, the next I was at 42 working 12 hours. A few women reached out to me and asked how I managed the piscine and kids. I asked my mother to come and watch the kids. It was hard, I just fell in bed when I got back and had to get up at 6 am again. I had to enroll my little one in preschool to do the exams. There was no way my husband could take that much time off work. After the piscine it was more flexible, but I missed a lot of events and some opportunities.

What is it like being a woman in your field? Do you have any advice?

I’m not sure if there are any benefits related to gender, I think it depends on each person. I feel accepted as an equal. I never had any issues, but I can’t speak for everyone. It doesn’t matter if you are a mother or father, you still have sleepless nights, you still have school stuff.

I think my only advice is to not to think about how people will perceive you based on your gender. It is about you, your skills and your desire to do the job.

What did you like best about your 42 experience?

42 opens a lot of opportunities because you learn more about yourself, what you can do, what you can handle. 42 taught me, don’t be afraid to fail, and to stand up and continue to go. Even if you fail you can still feel confident and it gives you some power. Knowing that everyone in your field has made mistakes before has taught me to not take it personally if I make a mistake.

Would you recommend the 42 program and if so, why?

Yes, I do for the same reason. There are at least two people joining 42 at my recommendation, maybe even more. There is a Russian women’s group on Facebook, and some have reached out to me about 42. Some with kids, some with not, asking me how hard it is. If I see somebody ask about innovation and computer science, like boot camps and courses, I just send them to 42. It really is the best experience you can have. I know a lot of people don’t understand why at 42 you start in C language, but it is actually the best way to learn. You will understand better if you start with the basics. People ask me all the time if it is free, and I am like yes, there are even free dorm rooms.

Connect with Darya on LinkedIn
Interview by: Stacey Faucett