July 21, 2021
“Moving to Germany it was hard to find yourself in a community, to make friends and connections and to understand the culture, because everything was basically frozen in the pandemic. Moinworld was a great help, because everything was moved to online and we kept communicating and connecting with each other.”
Today we interviewed Meri who first joined our mentoring program as a mentee and is now a mentor in our program. The interview was conducted by Katharina Platzer. She is currently in her master studies while working as a Product Owner in the Automotive sector and is volunteering for moinworld.
Meri, please briefly introduce yourself
I am 24 years old and currently living between Albania and Germany. I am not very keen on defining myself, but if I had to put it in two words, I would say that I am an Innovation Enthusiast.
Digitalization, entrepreneurship and cybersecurity are the topics that attract me the most, and that I have loved exploring for the past 5 years.
I come from a background in Business Informatics and a MSc. in Information Security. My studies have helped me build a solid background in both Computer Science and the Business world. My first full-time job was actually a combination of them both. I was the first full-time employee to join an Innovation Lab at the beginning, in the position of IT Trainer and a Trainer of Trainers. A job that would begin with teaching 7 year old’s the 21st century skills, and continue with university students and professionals. Soon after, I joined the startups world as part of the management team of accelerator programs. A challenge that happened to be the most inspiring in my career, thus I have decided to be more active in that area lately.
During my work, I realized the importance of networking and communities. Therefore, when I decided to move to Germany, the first thing I did was looking for Women Techmakers networks in Hamburg. That is how I found moinworld. A network that cares for both your personal and professional development. I am very grateful for the opportunity to join the mentoring program as a mentee, and now I am delighted to be a mentor for another girl, who has questions like the ones I used to have. So happy that this is now a chance to give back.
Why did you choose a career in informatics?
When I graduated High School, I really did not know what I wanted to do. As I found many things interesting at the same time, I heard about the Business Informatics degree and realized that it has all those many things in one. What made me set my mind for it, was the chance to explore and be flexible to move across different subjects. Both hard skills and soft skills were well-covered in the program and I loved that.
What is so interesting about Cyber Security?
Cyber Security is a topic that has been neglected by many governments, companies and even people on a personal level. Everyone enjoys digitalization and being active in the online world, however, no one really cares enough to keep a safe online environment. I noticed this issue when I was in the last year of my Bachelor studies and was reading more about the Information Security topics. During my masters, I had the opportunity to develop a program for Kids in Cyber Security, with the purpose to help kids, teens and their parents to stay alert and well-informed as they would face the dark sides of the internet. It was so gratefully accepted by everyone and made me delighted to see that I could somehow work on giving the issue the attention it needed. As we move forward, I plan to do this in an even greater level.
When did you start your journey as a mentee and what was your motivation for applying to the program?
I applied a year ago when I first decided to move to Hamburg. At first I wasn’t really sure how it would go, because coming from a background in computer science I was afraid that this program was more for girls who would do a career shift or who have less background in informatics. But it turned out that it was super customized. I had the chance to be paired with Ejona, a mentor who had a similar background as mine and could truly understand my questions.
What is special about the program? What do you like the most about it?
I would say network. It’s all about the network. It’s very international. Most of them are based in Hamburg, but the backgrounds are so different so you really learn a lot from each other. Especially how different the journeys are, but how similar we are in the very core.
Could you please briefly describe how the mentoring program looks like?
First, we had this formal structure that is suggested by moinworld. But you are free to adapt it as suits you best. In my situation, our communication was a bit more informal. Every time I had a question, I could easily reach my mentor via email or WhatsApp and I would get an answer very quickly. Every time the answer was not fully understood, we could just schedule a call to dig deeper into it.
Do you share any similarities or common characteristics with your mentor?
The biggest match is the fact that my mentor has done the same studies as myself and that she’s working in Cyber Security in Hamburg. To add on top of that, she also moved from Albania to Hamburg, and could understand all cultural change and adaptation to a new country very well. Therefore, she was willing to support me in this matter as well.
What was the biggest challenge from moving to Germany and finding a new job in an unknown environment?
I’m very happy to have support from moinworld, friends and family, because it was challenging in many aspects, starting with the language. To add on top of that, the overall way of how the city was moving was different. I had to keep up with every change, and all that in the midst of a global pandemic which stopped most of the activities. It was hard to find yourself in a community, to make friends and connections and to understand the culture, because everything was basically frozen. Moinworld was a great help, because everything was moved to online and we kept communicating and connecting with each other.
What would you recommend other women who are planning to start working in the IT sector?
When it comes to women in technology, I see the issue of gender gap, but I strongly believe that if a girl really wants to work in the IT sector, she will find enough opportunities and enough connections to make that happen. If you really want it, you can find all of that. We want to be someone in the future and that someone you want to be, probably already exists somewhere and is currently doing what you want to do. If we take these examples, learn from each other, find an inspiring story and already see a living example on how some challenges can be overcome, we can start from there. I would really recommend learning and networking. There are great people who are willing to help or to lend you a hand. And as far as you want to learn, that is now easier than ever. Dedicate some time to it. The only issue is how much you want it.
How is your experience of being a woman in a male-dominated domain?
Many times I have been the only girl in a work meeting, and that’s actually sad, but to be honest, I have never experienced judgement just because I’m a girl. The only visible gap is being the only girl in a room, but not any other disadvantages for being a woman in tech. I trust that as long as we are well educated, professional and confident in what we can do, I don’t think anyone can stand in the way of you getting what you deserve.
Author: Katharina Platzer (you can find her on Linkedin here)
Apply today here. A moinworld member will get in touch with you for the next steps within 1 week.
Do you have any questions? Get in touch with us at email@example.com.
We will also have a Meetup celebrating the ending of our first mentors and mentees batch in September. Everybody is welcome to join and listen to some of the success stories. Just follow our events!
Read more about some of our great mentors here.