Julia Iliuk

AGE: 26
HOMETOWN: Rostov-On-Don, Russia (has lived in California for the past 3 years).
INTERESTS: Snowboarding, running, TRX, yoga, reading books, and being an active member of Toastmasters International.

What did you do before 42?

Before 42, I studied economics and marketing, and I worked in event marketing. It was B2B work: my company organized campaigns for large companies. It was really fun, what I loved about the job was its fast-paced environment. I spent some part of my day at the desk and then I was gone for client meetings and met for collaborative projects, so I never got bored. My other job was as a personal assistant for a director of a consulting company which gave me a chance to visit many countries, but it didn’t allow me to grow.

Why did you choose to join 42?

I thought my previous background/education wasn’t relevant here in the U.S. and I was looking for a place to learn something new. It seemed like in order to get a job in marketing in Silicon Valley I needed to have a degree from a college or university in the U.S. So I went to a local college to explore their programs and see what I needed to do to apply. But then I saw an article on TechCrunch about 42. Before that I had never tried coding and couldn’t tell one programming language from another. The school said it was free and since it wasn’t too far from where I live, I got curious and that’s how it started. I just decided to try and see if I can learn to code. That’s it!

Did you know how to code before coming here?

No, I had no idea. I was really afraid to break my computer if I touched the console or anything in its settings. I only used the browser, Notes, Word, photo editors and I didn’t know how to code.

Did you like the “piscine”?

The first day was so confusing. I opened the subject and didn’t understand a thing. Obviously, eventually, it got better. The intensive basic training is cool in the way that it motivates you to keep working, even though you are failing almost every day. It teaches you to work on your own and to recognize when you need to ask for help. I actually enjoyed it, as I like myself more in an environment where I have deadlines and strict rules and work in a team of like-minded people. During the “piscine” there was no time to procrastinate: every day, the next day’s tasks were based on the previously learned stuff and if I missed anything it was really hard to catch up.

What do you like about 42 academics?

It is similar to a real-life experience, not in the sense that we have restrictions, such as we can’t use standard libraries or some specific functions in C, but in the sense that we have deadlines and we have teammates. We work on our own, without teachers or anybody to tell us how to do stuff, and if we don’t know something we need to search for it. We also have to work with each other even when we don’t like our teammates. We need to learn how to collaborate with people. We set our own schedule, maintain it and we make sure to complete our projects on time. We also have to defend our projects, similar to what one may have to do in an actual workplace.

What are the best parts of learning at 42?

The best part is learning how to learn, it seems like I had to learn it from scratch. I think I was afraid of simply Googling things, I would ask people I trust and not go any further. Now, it is easier for me to be autonomous and solve problems by myself, and to be more proactive.

Who are your sources of support at 42?

My friends, my peers. I have the strongest connection with the people I’ve been through the intensive basic training with. We worked together and experienced the same stress/failures/happiness and it made us really good friends. We had a staff member named Lou who helped us a lot. He did so much for the school, put his soul into it, and he was very supportive.

Describe the 42 community:

The 42 community is a bunch of very bright people. Not many lazy people are actually able to stay here because 42 is about people with a special attitude. Attitude is very important because you won’t be able to survive here if you can’t communicate with people, don’t know how to be a good team player, and don’t know how to motivate yourself. Our community consists of people who are very motivated, open, supportive and helpful to each other.

What activities are you involved in at 42?

I am a 42 ambassador. I help with organizing events here like school hackathons or presentations for international visitors. We also have different classes we organize by ourselves to educate each other. We gather twice a week for about two hours to explain various concepts to each other, such as how to prepare for job interviews or how to understand some algorithms. I also participate in our yoga club.

What is your dream job or your long-term career goals?

Before 42 I thought of being a product manager. I know how to organize things and manage people, but I didn’t know the software engineering part of it. My idea was to learn programming at 42 so I can become a better product manager who can interact with both business and development teams and be able to explain things better. I know that some product managers tend to give almost impossible tasks to developers and they don’t really care about implementation, because they’ve only been on the business side of it and never coded things themselves. But right now I am actually considering being a software engineer because when I started coding and got my first projects to work, I realized that I am able to do this, and it brought me so much joy. Getting things done and seeing the result actually makes me really happy and in coding that’s very much what you do every day!

What quote inspires you?

“The things you own end up owning you.”

-Fight Club