Angelika Podlinska

Angelika Podlinska is a Software Engineer at Spicy Mango

Before she embarked on her software engineering apprenticeship, Angelika had been planning to join the armed forces. Having never had much technology training at school, Angelika had had no exposure to the world of tech and didn’t know what to expect. During her course, she was one of only two female members out of 12 and had to adjust to learning new skills and different ways of working. She’s now a respected software engineer at Spicy Mango, leading projects from start to finish and consulting on the evolving technologies in the broadcast arena.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

I have always been a little bit of a geek and into challenging myself. I hadn’t considered or tried coding until I applied for an apprenticeship with British Airways as a Software Developer. It was a great start to my career as I got to experience the different roles and departments within the company, each with their own unique range of responsibilities. I completed my apprenticeship with a distinction and began to look for a new challenge to build my knowledge further. I started working at Spicy Mango and have loved every minute of it. It presents new challenges and problems to overcome on every project – every day is a school day as they say! I have worked in IT for over four years now.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

A career in technology wasn’t my original intention, we had little exposure to IT at school and I wasn’t aware of the possibilities or what it involved. When I was at school I wanted to be a Police dog handler, as I love working with dogs. However, it was difficult to get into and it doesn’t have the same possibilities or career opportunities. I like to plan for everything, so I can prepare for what’s coming as best I can, but the apprenticeship was a jump into the unknown. At the time I wasn’t 100% sure what to expect but I’m glad I decided to take the leap.

Have you faced any particular challenges along the way and if so, how did you deal with them?

To begin with the main challenge for me was lack of knowledge. I had to understand how programming worked and how the different areas worked together. Then I had to learn about all the different types of software and possibilities out there. I spent a lot of time researching things I didn’t understand as well as using the knowledge of my mentors to help me progress in my career. It took time and hard work, but it has paid off – I even manage to answer the odd question on stack overflow now!

I believe my challenge is one that everyone faces in this sector; it is the nature of the business. The IT sector is constantly changing, evolving, and developing, new languages, software and new fields of expertise are required. In order to be successful, you not only have to stay on top of this but learn how and where to apply.

If you could change one thing for women in the workplace, what would it be?

I’d like to place more of a focus on equality. We should all be competing fairly with those around us, being measured on how productive we are and the quality of work we produce, not our genders or backgrounds. At the moment there’s an emphasis on increasing the amount of women in tech and while this may prove a positive change in the short term, it’s important that it doesn’t result in discouraging any other people from entering the sector and causing a further divide.

How would you encourage more girls and young women into a career in STEM?

I think it’s important that from an early age both boys and girls are encouraged into STEM careers. This should be taken into account from the very beginning of their educational development, often parents are still drawn to gender stereotypical toys e.g. cars and ‘tech toys’ for boys and dolls for girls. Children should be educated from an early age about the STEM opportunities available, and it’s great to see an increasing amount of toy manufacturers taking this into account with their products. More apprenticeships should be offered in these areas too to help develop their skills.

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?

I’ve been a mentor and a mentee. Having a mentor is particularly important when you’re just starting out, it gives you a boost of confidence knowing that there is someone there to guide you if you start to go off track. The best mentors will challenge their mentees and thrive to get the best from those they are working with, helping them to find their unique attributes. I get a real thrill out of introducing those I mentor to new skills and helping them nurture the talents they have. Once you see students succeed in something you’ve mentored them through you get a great sense of pride and joy, and it’s not a one-way relationship, students will also invite you to look at things from different angles and make you question why you do things like you do.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

I think finding a supportive, innovative company to work with has been my biggest achievement so far. Spicy Mango has so many exciting projects and I feel lucky to work with all of our clients. Aside from the projects, the team is also really inclusive and we all strive to achieve our goals together.

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

We’ve got lots of interesting projects lined up, so I’m really looking forward to getting ‘hands on’ and I’m ready to face all of the challenges that may appear. I love what I do, and I’d like to continue expanding my skills in the tech world. I’m currently in the process of finishing my degree in Computer Science and I’m hoping to take this further in the future, possibly onto a PhD.