My Real CV

Sometimes, people seem surprised at how much I know about programming or design. I guess that’s because most people see my time these days being spent on project management and running the business – my programming and design days are now in the distant past. But that wasn’t always the case; once upon a time, I was a web developer myself!

Realising that my traditional CV does not tell the full story, I thought I’ll try something different: writing the Real CV.

This is how it unfolds.

1990 – 1999, Elementary School

One day, when I was at an elementary school, my dad brought a brand new computer home, I think it was the Pentium III (for those of you who remember those times). Wow. A personal computer! No one in our neighbourhood had one. Both my brother and I were mesmerised by it.

I was around 13 years old and already attending an after-school class to learn the programming language Pascal so computers were nothing new to me but now I had the machine that could run my code at home! I was so excited to have the opportunity to use it when my dad did not work on it. And boy did I use it! Little did I know then that the curiosity that had been sparked would become my future career.

1999 – 2003, Electro-technical College

Ilona with a computer back in the days

At High School we studied more Pascal but I wished we were taught at least Delphi or Visual Basic or Java (very popular commercial programming languages those days) but unfortunately, our school was slow in changing their curriculum so Pascal it was again.

But then there came the Assembler language being taught in our later years – it was much more basic than Pascal. The fun part was that it was so primitive that it was cool – this is the language that microprocessors understand! How cool is that!

So I carried on learning programming: more of Pascal, a bit of PHP, a bit of Assembler. I think I even checked C or C++ (not sure which one was popular those days) but then I hit the proper teenage years and didn’t care about computers that much 🙂

In between programming, I was also building my own computers: 386, 486. It was nothing unusual for us kids (well, the boys and me – it must be said!) to entertain ourselves like this – we bought various parts of computers and put them together. Back then (in the late 1990s), computers were quite expensive so building them from parts was something young kids like us had to do. Needless to say: I learned tons about computers in those early days.

2003 – 2004, Czech Technical University in Prague

My parents drummed in to me from an early age that I would attend University: ‘You will study at University one day. Everyone in our family is an Engineer!’

So, next came University. I chose to study Computer Science at the Czech Technical University in Prague. I was very excited to experience university life and living in Prague!

Unfortunately, my initial excitement about studying at University was short – the only fun, useful and in my eyes meaningful module was Java programming. Finally we were taught a programming language that was actually used in the real world! I really enjoyed it; learning a new programming language and creating little programmes was so much fun. The fun of programming is immense!

The first year at Uni went by fast, I really enjoyed the student life and living in the capital. But the majority of Uni modules and the teaching wasn’t at all what I expected and I dreaded the prospect of spending another year attending boring classes and working on academic papers.

Luck was on my side though and at the end of the first year I found the opportunity to study at a University in London – so I gave it a try and never looked back!

2004 – 2008, London Metropolitan University

At London Met, I studied for a BSc in Multimedia. It was a combination of web, animation, audio, video and even some business skills! In contrast to my time at University in Prague, I could not believe that a Uni course could be so practical. The modules and the entire teaching was focused on self-study and acquiring skills that were readily applicable to a real job scenario and current industry demands. I loved it!

I learned a bit more PHP but mainly ActionScript (Macromedia Flash). Great fun building browser based games – I even won a Prize for the Best Multimedia Project of the Year – I was enjoying myself!

2007 – 2008, Internships & First Job

Throughout the duration of my University studies, I knew that a degree would not be a pre-requisite to getting a job, so I made sure to build up my portfolio by doing internships or free work for real clients. The strategy worked and I got a job straight out of the Uni with an advertising agency. There I learned html/css and designing in Photoshop to a pretty good standard and during the evenings I self-taught myself how to code WordPress themes from scratch. Within 9 months of getting out of Uni, working in a real job and coding personal projects after work, I felt ready to go freelance.

Looking back, I understand the shock on the faces of all my friends and family when I announced the news: ‘I’m quitting my job and going freelance’. I was a 24 year old woman, a foreigner in a country with no links or financial support. My family and friends were horrified and strongly discouraged me: ‘Don’t you want to stay in your first job out of uni a little longer? To learn more things, to save some money, to have some job security?’ That was exactly what I dreaded: staying in the same job for a little longer! I was hungry and eager and wanted to work for myself.

On reflection, I can clearly see where that early drive came from: the most inspiring figures in my life – my auntie and my dad – were both business people. Subconsciously, I think I wanted to be like them and the sooner, the better.

2008 – 2010, Freelance Web Designer

So I quit my job and went freelance. Initially, I did everything from designing websites to coding them and it was a lot of fun. But it also took a lot of time to do it all by myself. The worst was: I could only work on one project at the time, yet there was so much work out there!

I started to work with other freelancers to be able to deliver more projects simultaneously and in the process I realised that I enjoyed sales and project management much more than design and development.

2010 – Present, Moove Agency

I gradually, over years, moved to the account and project management role and set up Moove Agency with my dear business partner and creative genius: Adrian Restantia.

And that’s where my programming learning stopped. There were more pressing things to learn all of the sudden and no time to do any coding, even for fun!

Today, I’m incredibly happy to say that at Moove Agency, we have found amazing people who work with us who are much better at design or programming than I ever was 🙂  In turn, they have a Project manager who understands them (hopefully) well 🙂

So, one less female engineer in the world (my parents got over it!) but one more business woman. Not such a bad outcome.


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