Meet the MewsDevs - Daria

The second edition of Meet the MewsDevs is here! After Backend dev (and DOTA lover) Jarda, it’s time for Daria and the story of one Russian's struggle to buy sunflower seeds in Prague and going from chemical engineer to Frontend developer at Mews.

Hey, Daria, you’ve been with us for about 2 years, right?

No, actually I joined last July and we were about 15 people in tech back then.

Wow, OK, it feels like you’ve been with us much longer. So you had the interview at the old office in Helenska?

Yes, I had an interview there with Vojta and Jirka, which is quite funny as neither of them do Frontend anymore (Head of Data and CPO). And then after a week we moved to the current office at I.P. Pavlova. And now we're about to move again….

Chemical engineer from Siberia coding

How did you learn about Mews?

I was referred by Larisa (Junior Designer), who I met at an online FreeCodeCamp and she was the only person from Prague there. We started chatting and became friends. She joined Mews, I joined some other company, but then she talked me into joining almost exactly one year later.

So she cashed in the referral fee... did she invite you to a nice dinner?

Nope, not yet, but we’re still friends. 😂

Mews crew.

How did it work, the online course you took?

Well, there are paths you can choose from and, basically, they promise you that with the skill set you gain during the course you'll be able to land a junior developer position. You work on a project that then becomes part of your portfolio, so that’s what I sent to Mews and it worked out pretty well. ✔

You’re part of a strong Siberian group we have in Mews. How come almost every person we have from Russia is from Siberia? In fact, whenever there is someone not from Siberia, we’re surprised....

Well, when you look at the map, you’ll see that Siberia is quite big. However, the city I’m from is quite small by Russian standards. The name is Noyabrsk and I’m sure nobody knows it.

"That's Noyabrsk!"

What’s the weather like?

Right now (mid-November) it’s about -20 Celsius, so, for me, Czech winters are pretty warm.

But you didn't come to Prague to be a developer, did you?

I actually wanted to become a chemical engineer and I enrolled at UCT in Prague, but in the second year of my studies I realized that this was not for me. Since I was spending a lot of time playing games back then and many of my friends around me said that being a developer was not so bad, I googled how to become a developer. 🙂 I found out that JavaScript was very popular and found out the minimum knowledge to get a junior dev job.

But actually the first city I came to in the Czech Republic was Marianske Lazne because, before I started university, I spent one year studying the Czech language there. That was when I was 18 years old. Even though I didn’t pursue a career in chemistry, I am really happy that I finished my bachelor's degree. It was also useful for a smoother visa process.

How did your family react when, right after high school, you moved all the way to the Czech Republic?

Well, it wasn’t easy for them, even though they knew I would move to a big city in Russia. They were afraid they would lose me, but that didn’t happen. I go home quite often as it’s possible for me to work long distance from time to time.

The world may have lost a chemical engineer, but we gained a Frontend dev!

Your parrot is not the only one eating seeds....

It’s your grandma’s cuisine that brings you home, right?

Yes! Although I love the Czech Republic and Prague, and it really helped me that the language and culture are quite similar, I really miss Russian food. Especially kotleti (like burgers, but better) and my grandma’s blini, which are sort of pancakes that can be done either sweet or salty. I’m OK with Czech cuisine now but I struggled with dumplings, for example. There is one thing I miss really badly though….

What is it?

Sunflower seeds! The ones you can get in supermarkets are really not too good. So what I had to do was to go to a pet supplies shop and buy the seeds there in big bags for birds. So the shop assistant would ask me, how was my parrot doing and how old was it? 🦜 So I’d answer that it was doing fine and that it was 22 years old (that was my age then), but she seemed not to get the association because she looked at me weirdly. I really hoped that she would understand that the parrot was me, but I guess there aren’t many people buying five kilo packs of sunflower seeds in the pet shop for themselves.… 🤷‍♀️

That’s amazing. And I think from this story it’s obvious that you are a very social person.

Well, that’s not so true.

Come on. Whenever I organize something, you are the first one to help or attend. Which I really appreciate….

Right, that’s true, but I guess I still see myself as the introvert in high school. What really changed me was the move to the Czech Republic as the society and people are much more open and welcoming. That’s why I like it here.

And, hey, you should bring back the Movie Nights you used to organize. I was at every one we had and I’m still waiting for the screening of the Russian movie I suggested: Diamond Arm. It’s a great Soviet crime-comedy inspired by real-life events about people smuggling diamonds in an orthopedic cast. 💎

"I guess there aren’t many people buying five kilo packs of sunflower seeds in the pet shop for themselves…."

Buying lunch in the rain for colleagues is good for you

OK, I promise, I will make sure that Movie Nights return. But you are also a true fan of the speakers at our events. Do you attend events outside of Mews, too?

Yes, I regularly go to ngParty meetups. Since I am still a “developer in progress,” I really like every opportunity to learn new things. Right now the hot topic for me and everyone in Mews is TypeScript, as we are rewriting the whole thing. And I really want to learn that properly. Usually I come to the office at, like, 8 and spend one hour watching some Youtube videos or reading things from our Slack channel #tech-reading.

And one day, hopefully, I will talk at a meetup myself. Even though I am pretty shy, I hope that our internal presentation training will help. It already helped our colleague Kirill to talk in front of 100 people.

I am busy with learning Spanish and I just signed up for Thaibox classes. Unfortunately, the only ass I can kick at the moment is my own. 🥊 That means I don't have much time to do some side project right now.

¿Lees español?

But you worked on a side project within Mews and it was very successful. What was it?

Right… a big pain of onboarding a new property is building the environment with all the setups. So the side project idea was to make the life of implementation managers and hoteliers easier. Thanks to the side project, I stayed in a Mews property in Amsterdam and got second place in our internal hackathon, but mainly it created a new division in the team – tech.onboarding – where I work now.

Yes, your tech lead is Pavel. How is it working with this guy?

He has a very unique and great sense of humor. He’s famous for walking barefoot around the office and for coming to work the next day after he broke his collarbone in a motorcycle accident. And not only did he come to work, but he also went to pick up kebabs for the rest of the team.

Haha, the famous dev lunch.

So we have a system to determine who goes to pick up lunch for the team. We have about 8 restaurants from the neighborhood and each of them (based on the distance) has a set of points assigned. So when you go for 10 lunches to a restaurant that is quite far from the office, you get enough points so that you don’t have to go for some time and others bring it to you. Oh and also the weather conditions have a set of points. So, if it’s a blizzard, you’re good for long time.

This is also how I got my emoji on Slack, a Russian lady carrying a tree, because once I brought 20 lunches. 💪

Yes and Pavel still owes me the blog post about this because the world needs to know. So, thank you for reminding me to remind him about it!

Czech society is much more open than Russian....

To find out more about Mews and the dev team, check out our Github and follow us on Twitter.

Photo © Natalia Bubochkina.


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Jan Meissner

Sport, history and geography geek helping the tech geeks of Mews be seen and heard around the world.