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Programa SWitCH do Porto Tech Hub para mudança de carreira

Ready, Switch, Gooo!

There is always time and opportunity for change, and the stories of these four people prove it. They started by practicing another profession and decided to make SWitCH in their career to embrace different challenges. The Porto Tech Hub's professional requalification program opened new horizons for them, and Fabamaq opened its doors, so they could achieve the personal and professional realization they sought.

The reasons, the difficulties and the achievements can be read below in the testimony of each one of the four Gamers of Fabamaq. Let's get to it!

Fábio Brás, Sofware Engineer at Fabamaq 


How long have you been doing SWitCH?

I participated in the very first edition of the program. I joined SWitCH five years ago and almost four years ago I started at Fabamaq, where I work today as a Software Engineer in the Automation & Delivery team.

What was your profession before SWitCH?

I was a distribution engineer for electronic systems. I worked at Yazaki Saltano, in Ovar, and designed the wiring harnesses for cars, more specifically for the Jaguar team. 

How long were you in that area and what led you to change?

I worked there for almost three years. I decided to change, almost as a desire to discover another side of the choices I made in higher education. When I entered higher education, I could go for either Computer Engineering or Mechanical Engineering, and for various reasons, I chose the latter.

Then as I entered the job market and experience flowed in the company, I started looking at other options and looking for a new job due to the long commutes I had to do to get to work. At the time, a co-worker of mine told me about the opportunity that was appearing at ISEP with the SWitCH program. 

I got curious, looked for more information and ended up identifying myself with the course contents and with the fact that it would give me the opportunity to continue my studies in higher education by being a post-graduate. So I decided to take a risk and see what I could have achieved if I had chosen Computer Engineering.

How was your learning experience in the program?

For me, it was tough and easy at the same time. Since it was an area in which I had some interest, I already had the taste and desire to learn instilled in me. 

On the other hand, it was hard because SWitCH ends up condensing a lot of information in a short period of time and requires a lot of effort and work from the students outside of class. Even though we were studying, it was like a job and this was visible in the schedule. We had eight hours of classes a day and then often continued back to college to complete our assignments. In that respect, the program is very intense.

Over these almost four years at Fabamaq how have you felt your evolution?

My evolution in the Automation & Delivery team has been positive and composed of major and minor leaps. In fact, it was easy to get a warm welcome. Fabamaq has always had a very nice environment and the way they organized my entry made it very easy. 

I was able to talk to my current head of the Automation & Delivery team right during the interview process and he explained everything to me: the technologies used, the process, etc. At the time we did the alignment interview and they were flawless there too. It was a very relaxed, straightforward process and this contributed to me feeling more at ease upon entering the company.

Technically I had a big jump right at the beginning, which was relearning the stack I had given SWitCH because Fabamaq works with different programming languages. I had to learn everything from scratch again. Along with that I have had other evolutionary leaps, whenever I investigate new technologies to help the team and the company. Then I have the small leaps of consolidating and cementing what I learn to apply it on a daily basis. 

Do you have a positive balance of the decision to change?

I would make a positive balance. It has been a fun experience with Fabamaq and it does not promote monotony. I always have learning cycles with different intensities, and after almost four years, I feel lucky to be able to say that I don't have that monotony. 

Mechanics was an area that I liked, but so is computer science. For me, in that sense, it was easier than perhaps for other people who retrain because of more difficult life situations or in search of a better job.

I can't complain. Computer engineering is one of the areas that I had already considered in higher education, and for me, it was super positive to combine the useful with the pleasant and do the program. Still, regarding the choice of Fabamaq, four years have passed and I am still here. That is certainly due to something. I think Fabamaq and I are doing a good job together!

Ana Ferreira, Game Developer at Fabamaq

What were you doing before you joined SwitCH?

I got my bachelor's and master's degrees in Biochemistry. After that, I worked at Super Bock in that area for nine months. During that period I also performed other tasks related to quality management in the company. 

What made you want to change your area of work?

It was a dissatisfaction that I was already feeling. I think that a person changes areas when he/she doesn't feel happy. As the years went by, I no longer identified with the profession. I still like the area, but I started to see other areas that interested me.

When I left Super Bock and was looking for a job I started to learn to program. At the time I took Biochemistry, one of the subjects I liked the most was related to programming and I always thought: one day when I have time, I will dedicate myself to learning this a little bit. So, I took advantage of that pause period, dedicated time to learn and I liked it very much. 

Was it then easier or more difficult for you to start SWitCH because of this initial experience?

I'm a person who likes to play it safe, and I would never make a change like that if I wasn't sure that it was something that I would see myself in and enjoy doing. I had actually had some contact with programming when I was in Biochemistry, but for me, it wasn't enough. What helped me a lot in my decision was liking it and thinking to myself: I see myself doing this every day. From there I made the decision to go to SWitCH. 

How was the experience of entering the programming area? 

I was afraid of course because it was a short professional conversion course after all. But my desire was also to start doing what I like as soon as possible. When it came time to choose a job, Fabamaq was my preference, but I didn't have a particular taste for games. I just found the position interesting and decided to choose it. The truth is, since I've been here, I like games more and more. I think that the fear has disappeared with time. 

How was your welcome and evolution at Fabamaq?

I have been at Fabamaq since September 2021, and every day I feel I can do more, and every day I feel I learn more. My evolution has been really good since I started. I really like that feeling and another aspect that I like is that this company has always been very welcoming. They knew I was coming from Biochemistry, that I was coming from SWitCH, and they were always very understanding with me. I felt at ease to gain confidence and evolve more quickly. It was a good company in terms of welcoming, no doubt about it. 

Do you have any advice for someone who wants to do the program?

My advice is that you should not insist and try to like a path or profession that does not make you happy. We were made to be happy and if you think you are not satisfied you should change as soon as possible because we all have a life ahead of us, regardless of our age. I had older colleagues than me who did the program and they are also very happy.

I would also tell them to lose their fear. If you like something else, take a chance. The most complicated part of this process is to make the decision to change the area, and the longer you stay in another area, the harder it becomes to change. In my case, it paid off, no doubt. I am very happy with the result so far and I believe that in the future I will be too. A more confident person is a happier person at work.

João Sousa, Software Test Engineer na Fabamaq

What did you do before SWitCH?

I was a dentist. For seven years this was my profession.

What led you to change careers?

It was a mixture of factors. I never had a special passion for dentistry and I chose it because of family influence as I have always been more into computer science. Not necessarily programming, but I always liked computers. I think I also always had some vocation for that.

At the time of choosing the course I opted for this career and I still pursued it, but I wasn't very happy. I was very worn out, I worked a lot of hours and the work situation was never very stable. So I was already maturing with the idea of changing. When I saw SWitCH I decided it was time. It was something I wanted to do, I could learn and it seemed like a good opportunity.

You always liked computer science, but did you have any specific knowledge in the area?

I believe my technical knowledge was a little higher than the average knowledge of the general population. I was interested in the area, read about it, and did some things as well. In that sense, I knew a little bit more, but I didn't have any programming knowledge. I had basic computer knowledge, but it was higher than the average user, because I was trying to learn and know more in a self-taught way. 

It ended up being a big change from dental to SWitCH. How was the learning experience?

It was a big initial shock. The program is five days a week, eight hours a day, and the learning is different from what we are used to in the Portuguese model. It's not just a matter of pouring over material that we memorize and later answer in tests. It is a model based on challenges. We are given the challenge to fulfill, and we are given some guidance, but we have to find the solution ourselves. It was basically learning by doing. 

At the end of the challenge, even though we had successfully arrived at the solution, if there were better solutions to achieve the results, the teachers would explain how we could do it. For me, it was a method that worked and has proven effective. It is challenging and demanding, and this can make some people want to give up at an early stage. In my case, as I particularly liked the area, I didn't have that problem.

And how was the integration in the market after the course?

The initial period was a little complicated because we caught the pandemic and it was an exceptional year. We entered the internships a little later than planned, but starting the interview process, everything went very well. 

In the process of choosing a company, the one I liked best among the options on the table was Fabamaq, and I don't regret my decision at all. I chose this company because it seemed very accessible and aligned with my way of being. I have been on the Game Testing team for almost a year and a half now, they have been welcoming and I have learned a lot. They give me the freedom to grow and learn and that space is fundamental for people who, like me, had no previous connection with this area.

Do you have a positive balance of this experience?

Yes, the balance is very positive, no doubt. I would do it again and I even regret not having joined the course earlier, in one of the first editions.

Patrícia Castro, Software Engineer na Fabamaq

What did you do before you joined SWITCH?

I took a degree in Communication Sciences at the Faculdade de Letras da Universidade do Porto with a specialty in Multimedia. Between 2013 and 2017 I worked in the commercial and marketing areas, and most of this period was spent in jewelry companies. In those years I realized that I wasn't going to have much chance to apply my multimedia knowledge and that I wasn't in the right place.

Was the main thing that led you to change not being able to apply what you liked to do or was there another motivation for you to change area?

I always had some aptitude for programming and coding. I always liked that area. I had never explored that in a professional way and didn't think my career could go through that. Even when the subject of college came up, I never considered the possibility.

When the SWitCH ad came up I thought it was a good opportunity to combine the multimedia/computing part with something I had always liked: code and the world of technology. It was then that I decided to bet on the course.

Did you have any basis for your Multimedia programming background or did you really go into the course learning from scratch?

In college, we had some classes in the undergraduate course that involved HTML and CSS, but it was a very different base from what is used in SWitCH. I'm not saying that I literally started from scratch, but I had very little knowledge that could help me in the course. I only had a few brief notions of HTML.

So was the learning demanding for you? How would you describe this process?

At first, it's a little tricky because the lack of background makes you afraid that you won't be able to keep up. And because it's a lot of new information, sometimes you can feel a little overwhelmed and students can get a little confused and try to figure out if they can keep up. Then, as time goes by, we realize that the concepts will stick and that the more we practice something, the more naturally the code will come out. The help of classmates and teachers is also important here to consolidate the knowledge little by little.

You have worked in more than one team at Fabamaq, right? How have you felt your evolution as a professional along this path?

Yes, I started with the Operating Systems team in September 2019 and now I'm with the People Interaction & Brand team. The two teams have totally different ways of working and projects. I can't say that I'm in almost three years of continuous evolution, because they are projects with different technologies and right then I had to reset and start from scratch again.

I'm enjoying it a lot. I'm feeling that I'm learning a lot and I think I have the normal feeling that I have a lot to learn. I have come to realize that this feeling is common in people in my field, regardless of whether you are coming out of SWitCH or graduating from college. In the beginning, this was very confusing to me, because I felt very far behind other people and also because I didn't have an engineering background. Now I don't feel this as much because I see that people with a background around me feel the same difficulty and that there are always new things coming up.

After these three years, I feel very different from the person who left SWitCH and that's natural, but I also know that I have a long way to go. Students leave SWitCH with a good foundation, but they have to make an effort to approach the level of knowledge of those who have been doing this for many years.

What advice would you give to a person who is rethinking their career as you did?

I think that if you are considering SWitCH or a career in technology you have to understand if this is something you really enjoy.

There also has to be some resilience, because in this area you have to accept that you won't always succeed the first time around. There is an acceptance of error as a common element here that is complex. We have to understand that we are going to fail, that it is normal, and that we are going to get better at programming with patience. You have to know how to accept problems and challenges and be persistent to solve them.

Above all, I think it has to do with conviction, endurance, and acceptance of error. People get scared about where they come from, but the point here is more about reasoning, logic, and curiosity for code. Always wanting to learn more and knowing that eventually, you will have to make up for some different background with effort.

Fabamaq is one of the associated companies of Porto Tech Hub and our Gamer Luis Silva, Head of People, Interaction & Brand, serves as president of the association. The SWitCH program is already in its fifth edition and allowed 16 people to pursue a new career at Fabamaq.

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