Kriszta Klement grew up in Orosháza, Hungary, where she graduated from high school with a specialization in hospitality. Shortly after graduation, she moved to the capital city of Budapest to find work as a waitress. When not working at the restaurant, Kriszta would take care of her 3 children during the evening and study programming at night. Now, she teaches kids from 5 to 18 years old how to program robots at the Abacusan Studio.
In our “CodeBerry Student Stories” series, we chat with students who have succeeded in finding a job as a developer.
I live here: Budapest, Hungary
I work here: Abacusan Studio
Time spent studying with CodeBerry: about 10 months
When asked about your job as a programmer, how do you usually respond?
I teach programming—as an assistant member of a team—to children (ages 5–18) and to the educators working with them. In the case of children, our goal is to show them the fun side of coding and to pique their interest in the topic. We would also like to eradicate digital illiteracy. By this, we mean that we want kids to grow beyond being mere users to getting involved in the creative side of the digital world. And in the case of educators, this means the extensive integration of robotics/programming into various subjects. Rather than solely focusing on teachers of traditionally programming-related subjects, we put special emphasis on involving educators who teach history or literature.
What did you do for a living before you started coding?
I was the most enthusiastic waitress in the world. My job was my hobby—and the same is true of my current job. So, I could say that up until the age of 42, I still have never worked a day in my life, because I’ve always done things that I actually enjoy. What I like most about my current job is the opportunity to always learn something new and develop myself personally. My favorite thing about my job is that whenever I learn something new, I can almost instantly share that new knowledge with others.
Why did you decide to start studying web development?
To be honest, it was my 9-year-old and her friend who first took an interest in programming, which is how we got involved with Skool (a Hungarian organization offering free, innovative courses in technology to young girls). The realization came to me about 1–1.5 years later, when I thought that maybe programming could be something that I should consider too. It had everything I was looking for in a new career: the option of working from home, being challenged, having flexible hours (you can make a lot of progress at night (: ), continuous development and learning, and new connections. These are all things you can do when you’re retired. It seems like I had to catch up with the kids in digital literacy!
How did you learn programming? Did you use any courses, books, or other materials in particular?
I wouldn’t call myself a fully-fledged programmer. Rather, I’d prefer to say that I have learned the basics of programming and now use them daily with professional guidance and support. My first big encounter with the world of coding was through Dániel Pasztuhov’s email course on Java. Then, I read Gusztáv Nagy’s book on web programming and received mentorship from him via Skype. As I have 3 children, my only option was to find a form of training that would be accessible from home. What I liked the most about these courses, and CodeBerry in particular, is that you can also study and make progress at night, which gives you time to take care of the kids, run errands, and deal with other challenges during the day. Studying at CodeBerry even allowed me to work a day job and take absolute control over the pace at which I progressed. I always got as much done as my time allowed.
What did CodeBerry offer you? What was it like to study at our school?
I really liked the personal mentorship. I always received quick help whenever I got stuck and I knew that I wasn’t alone. Most of the time, Amanda (my mentor) didn’t just give me a ready-made solution but also tried to guide me toward the answer to my problem by giving me hints so I could figure out the right code myself. I loved how I could see both my progress and the next steps to take following each lesson. The virtual study group was also very active and that is where I found my other mentor, who also helped me a lot. I really appreciate how everyone in this community is always eager to help, giving up their free time without regard for personal gain. Csaba Kapus has always answered my questions, too. He selflessly passed on huge amounts of practical knowledge to me, for which I would like to thank him again.
Do you have any experience, tips, or tricks to share with those who are just starting to learn programming?
First of all, if coding has ever crossed your mind, you should definitely give it a shot. There are websites where you can learn some basic coding skills for free and get a taste of programming to see if it’s really for you or not. Then, after having learned the basics, you can proceed to study programming in a more structured format (for example, in an online school such as this one). Many of the things I like about web programming were the same ones I did about waitressing: creativity and the opportunity to “serve”.
The “multiplier effect” of the acquired skills is also imperative. And it will stay important as long as the education system is sorely lacking the inclusion of this subject in the curriculum. I do my best to convince the people around me to let children become more familiar with this area so that they are not just users in the digital world but also creators of games/apps. Having daughters myself, I cannot stress enough how important these skills are for girls TOO! At first, it seems pretty far from fashion design, drawing, or any other creative profession preferred by girls. But I think web programming is just as creative—I speak from my own experience!
Tell me a little about where you work now and what your duties are. What do you do during a typical day or week?
It is said that being a parent is a real logistics challenge (languages, sports, music, competitions—times three) and it really is! I can make great use of these skills here. My responsibilities at the Studio are very diverse. In addition to teaching kids how to use the Japanese ArTec robots, I also manage and serve at the company’s online shop. In addition to assisting my bosses, I also organize the storage room or clean when needed. I’m also responsible for the coordination and communication of the free, nationwide Abacusan-GE robotics program.
This profession provides many opportunities to do volunteer work, which both inspires me and gives new momentum to the team.
When we have a weekend event, I’m usually able to take the kids with me. During the week, as my presence is mostly requested in schools, I am in the office or in a given institution during the day. And when one of my own kids needs me for something (a doctor’s appointment, school gets canceled, they just need to rest), we find a way for me to contribute from home at any time.
Who do you work with and how do they help you with your job?
I work with the two founders of the company: Sára Sugár and István Büti. They help me with both my personal and professional development by mentoring and supporting me. This helps me give one hundred percent at work without having to neglect my family.
I work on the actual (i.e. the robots) with my colleague, Balázs Szandavári. We do all the training and school programs as a team, with the four of us working together.
What software, devices, and technology you are currently using?
At the moment, I use the Japanese Studuino software, developed in cooperation by the American MIT and the Japanese ArTec team. It is almost the same as Scratch, except it’s optimized for robots. And this year, Studuino will be made compatible with Micro:bit too. Currently, these are the most widely accepted and the most efficient, user-friendly platforms in education on an international level.
How long did you search for a job? Was it hard to find work?
I’m one of the lucky ones who got a call asking whether or not they would be interested in a job if an opportunity opened up! My children and I first visited Abacusan Studio when I had two days off of work and I gave them my phone number to get notifications about upcoming programs organized by them. Shortly after, they called to offer me a job. (:
Do you have any advice for those currently preparing for a job interview?
My involvement in volunteer programs allows me to visit many multinational companies. And my experience is that motivated job seekers who are proficient in English and a regional European language are always welcome— even at the junior level—with the emphasis being on the regional European language.
What is the next step for you? What direction are you taking?
I’m currently working on the ArTec Innovator Academy introductions for small children. These introductions aim to get a younger generation engaged in coding, which so far has never been addressed in such a way in Hungary. For this, I’ll also have to learn some new skills. Simultaneously, I work on the localization of a Japanese program based on our classroom experiences, with the guidance of Sára.
In our “CodeBerry Student Stories” series we chat with our students who succeeded in finding a job as a developer.
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