Photo: Momira Markovic

Sanja is among the people who think that a faculty degree doesn’t necessarily determine your entire career path, chosen back in your teenage years. This is why the 35-year-old graduated Pharmacist, after gaining seven years of experience in the Pharmaceutical industry decided to change her profession. Along with the Latin language that she learned-to be able to tell apart medical products, Sanja has now acquired another language, a programming one - JavaScript.

"In Pharmacy, you graduate first, then you find a job and work until you retire. There were no challenges or career opportunities for me there. My goal back then was to earn a living. And what I wanted was to continue learning, to challenge myself at a job I love, I wanted to feel that I was creating something," says Sanja.

While on her maternity leave, little by little Sanja decided to start learning to code. At first, it was all new to her, an unfamiliar territory, but with the help from her husband, who is also a programmer, YouTube tutorials, other online learning materials, and a lot of practice, Sanja learned the ropes. “I soon felt completely consumed by programming. I would sit in front of the computer in the morning, and the next thing I know - it’s dark outside, I’m hungry and my back hurts. But, when a code I wrote works correctly, I get the butterflies in my stomach.”

After the maternity leave, Sanja decided to quit her job and start a career in programming. However, without any formal education in the field or structured knowledge, she did not feel confident enough to start looking for a job. "I reached a point where I no longer knew in which direction I was heading; my knowledge was scattered. Then I saw an advertisement for the IT training course and applied."

Sanja completed the 10-week, 400-hour JavaScript training at the Belgrade Institute of Technology (BIT), where she learned about the coding styles, functions, methods and programming paradigms. Intensive training consisted of theory and practical work, but also included mandatory homework. At the end of the training, there was a final exam that the candidates did in teams – Sanja and her colleagues were tasked with creating a social platform like Facebook.

The IT training course was provided by several higher education institutions in Belgrade, Novi Sad, Niš, Čačak, Valjevo, Subotica and Zrenjanin. Sanja and other 800 candidates from diverse educational backgrounds and age groups gained basic knowledge in programming languages Java, JavaScript and PHP. The knowledge they acquired during the course, combined with some extra work at home was an entry ticket for the role of Junior Programmer.

Two months after she had completed the training, Sanja got a job in a small programming company, and her job is managing a cryptocurrency trading platform. Learning never ends for Sanja, as she says - in addition to programming, she has now entered a completely new world of cryptocurrency. "I think you should always be learning new things, because jobs, circumstances and demands of the labour market are ever-changing, and you have to adapt."

Sanja's short-term goal is to master this programming language, and what about a long-term one?

"I might start learning another programming language, or maybe my husband and I will start our own startup. There are plenty of opportunities now”.

This IT training course was initiated by the Ministry Council for Information Technology and Innovative Entrepreneurship and organized by the Government Office for IT and e-government in cooperation with UNDP. The training Sanja participated in was a continuation of the successful pilot program, during which 100 candidates were trained last year.

This program can contribute to the reduction of unemployment in Serbia, especially among young people who are the most vulnerable group when it comes to employment – as many as 33% of young people in Serbia are looking for a job.

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