ALUMNI PROFILE: INESSA PROKOFYEVA, SOFTWARE ENGINEER @ LOOKOUT

Inessa Prokofyeva

AGE: 29
INTERESTS: A lot of them actually. I love running and I want to run in a marathon next year. Hiking, traveling, and I love 42.

Tell us more about where you are from and what shaped you:

I was born and raised in Russia. I got my Master’s Degree in computer science and worked as a QA engineer. Afterward, I was working at several companies in Russia. One of them was an outsourcing company where I worked with people from different global teams. After that, I worked at Yandex. This corporation is Russia’s equivalent of Google so I was working with people all over the world.

I moved to the United States but the job requirements are different than in Russia. I tried to find a job as a QA engineer, but my education was completely different than what is required here. That is why I decided to expand on my coding skills, and that led to me deciding to join 42. After I joined the 42 community I decided I didn’t want to do QA engineering anymore. I enjoyed coding and didn’t want to focus on only writing tests.

What did you do before 42?

I was looking for jobs in QA, I was taking classes and I was attempting to self-educate myself by taking classes online. I was invited to a party and met a woman who told me that she was learning how to code. Initially I thought it was another online course, but she told me that it isn’t online, it is in person and it is free. She was talking about 42, which I had never heard about before. One week after I heard about 42 I joined the piscine.

Did you have any programming experience before 42?

I had experience in python before from my experience as a QA engineer but that is it, no other programming languages.

What did you like best about your 42 experience?

A lot of coding, actually getting your hands dirty. It is not like when you are following instructions in class, at 42 you get to do things hands-on. The community was one of my favorite things, the 42 community helped me a lot. I liked working with other people, getting support from other cadets and Chief Academic Officer Gaetan Juvin. The people is what I loved the most about my 42 experience.

Is there anything that you do now at work that you don’t think would come as easily if you hadn’t attended 42?

There is no specific answer to that, basically everything. Every single day that I came to 42 I would listen to people working together and I gained confidence through participating in things like hackathons.  The way that things are done at 42 is not in the comfort zone for most students but it does help you learn and grow. Sharing not only your problems but also your goals helped because there were a lot of people who don’t know a lot about what other people are doing. That is why you need to talk to other people, it will help you learn how to communicate better.

How did you get your foot in the door where you work?

I started applying on a regular basis online, but I also started using my network and was reaching out to basically everyone. Even if I thought a position was one I didn’t want, I applied for it anyway and it helped me start getting a lot of interviews. I got an internship with Ford after participating in a hackathon. Another student who attended 42 referred me to Lookout so that is how I am where I am now.

Describe what you do:

I recently started working at Lookout as a software engineer in the security platform division. Lookout is an IT security company headquartered in San Francisco. We develop security software for mobile devices. Since I just started I am in the learning phase of what tasks I will be responsible for. I am learning a new programming language I haven’t done before, it is more about the product and the security platform which is the main part of the job. It is a huge project and I will be working on a part of it.

What does your typical workday look like?

I usually come in around 9:30 am or so and in the morning we have a company meeting where we share any news. After that, I need to check my email and see if there are any updates. We have several offices in the United States so we need to touch base with them to see if there are any updates on their side. Then we have a stand-up and see what progress is going on in the team. The afternoon is reserved for doing the main responsibilities of the job. I go home around 5 pm or 6 pm or even later if I have some tasks that I have to do. It is a pretty basic schedule for a programmer.

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

I definitely recommend 42! Actually, I recommend it now to all my friends who want to get that type of experience. I tell them to try it, it is better than an online class. It is a great opportunity to get involved with a community and grow your network because you never know where you are going to be. It is a place where you develop your skills and it teaches you how to learn by yourself.  And it is free! 42 did a great job with me, it is not by itself and it is not magic, you have to work hard and you need to put everything into it.

Do you have any advice for 42 students when it comes to securing an internship or job?

Once you are looking for a job, especially when you are going into a new field or changing your career, it is not a sprint it is a marathon. It will take some time, there may be a lot of rejections, and the experience will be different for everyone. Remember it is not because of you, it is how the market works, it is nothing personal. It isn’t about your skills or personality, once you remember that you need to pass on and forget about it and move forward to the next possible opportunity. Don’t be frustrated, let bad things go and focus on the wins.

Connect with Inessa on LinkedIn

Photos provided by Inessa Prokofyeva

Interview by: Stacey Faucett
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