People of WordPress: Tijana Andrejic

WordPress is open source software, maintained by a global network of contributors. There are many examples of how WordPress has changed people’s lives for the better. In this monthly series, we share some of the amazing stories.

This month to coincide with WordCamp Europe, we feature Tijana Andrejic from Belgrade, Serbia, about her journey from fitness trainer to the WordPress world, with the freelance and corporate opportunities it introduced.

Tijana - portrait picture

As a professional manager with a college degree in Organizational Science and a certified fitness instructor, Tijana is nothing if not driven and goal-oriented. 

Following her time as a fitness trainer, Tijana moved to work in IT around 2016. She first explored content creation and design before focusing on SEO and becoming an independent specialist.  

Tijana was hired as a Customer Happiness Engineer for a hosting company, where she discovered the benefits of having a team. She realized that having close working relationships with colleagues is helpful for business success and accelerates personal growth.

Tijana hopes that by sharing her story, she can help others who are either starting their career or are moving roles. She describes the opportunities she discovered in the WordPress community as ‘a huge epiphany’, especially in the world of freelancing.

She highlights 5 things that helped her to start a new freelancing career. Let’s dive into them.

What motivates me?

“Why am I doing this?” is the first question that Tijana asks herself before starting anything new. This self-review and honesty, she feels, allows her to determine her priorities. She also benchmarks options around her motivations of wanting a flexible schedule and to grow professionally. 

She lists the reasons to make a particular choice, like being a freelancer, to help her choose the right job, pathway, or identify alternatives. 

She recommends that others can take a similar approach. If freelancing is still the best solution after examining all their goals and motivations, Tijana believes a good next step would be to learn WordPress-related skills.

WordCamp Europe 2019 group picture

Develop WordPress related skills

The next question you may ask: “Why WordPress?”

WordPress is used by more than 40% of websites in some form and offers various roles, many of which are not developer-specific. Tijana highlights a few: 

  • web developer (coding websites, themes, and plugins)
  • web implementor (creating websites from existing themes without coding)
  • web designer (designing website mock-ups, editing images, or creating online infographics)
  • client support professional (helping people with their websites)
  • website maintenance (WordPress, themes, and plugins are maintained and backed up regularly)
  • WordPress trainer (helping clients with how to use the platform or teaching other web professionals)
  • content writer
  • accessibility specialist (making sure standards are met and suggesting solutions for accessibility barriers)
  • SEO consultant (improving search outcomes and understanding)
  • statistics consultant, especially for web shops
  • WordPress assistant (adding new content and editing existing posts)
  • website migration specialist (moving websites from one server to another)
  • web security specialist
WCBGD group picture

Tijana emphasized: “Another reason why WordPress is great for freelancers is the strong community that exists around this content management system (CMS).” WordCamps and Meetups are a way to get useful information and meet people from a large and very diverse community and get answers to many questions straight away. 

In the past year, these events have been primarily online. However, the contributors who run them continue to make an effort to provide an experience as close to in-person events as possible. The biggest advantage to online events is that we can attend events from across the world, even if sometimes during these difficult times, it is difficult to get enough time to deeply into this new experience. Since Tijana’s first Meetup, she has attended many WordPress community events and volunteered as a speaker.

Plan in advance

Becoming a freelancer takes time. For Tijana, success came with proper planning and following her plan to ‘acquire or improve relevant skills that will make you stand out in the freelance market.’ She strongly believes that learning and growing as a professional opens more business opportunities. 

If you are considering a freelance career, she advises improving relevant skills or developing new skills related to your hobbies as ‘there is nothing better than doing what you love.’ In cases where no previous experience and knowledge can be used, she suggests choosing ‘a job that has a shorter learning curve and builds your knowledge around that.’

Tijana started as a content creator and learned to become an SEO expert. However, she highlights many alternative paths, including starting as a web implementer and moving to train as a developer. 

She suggests to others: “It would be a good idea to analyze the market before you jump into the learning process.” She also recommends people check the latest trends and consider the future of the skills they are developing.

Visit the new Learn WordPress.org to see what topics are of interest to you. In this newly established resource, the WordPress community aggregates workshops to support those who want to start and improve their skills, provides lesson plans for professional WordPress trainers and helps you create personal learning to develop key skills. There is also material on helping you be part of and organize events for your local community.

Tijana highlights that there are many places for freelancers to find clients. For example, the WordPress Community has a place where companies and individual site owners publish their job advertisements  – Jobs.WordPress.net.

Hurray, it’s time to get a first freelancing job

As a pragmatic person, Tijana recommends: “Save money before quitting your job to become a full-time freelancer. Alternatively, try freelancing for a few hours per week to see if you like it. Although some people do benefit when taking a risk, think twice before you take any irreversible actions.” 

She shared some possible next steps: 

  • use a freelancing platform
  • triple-check your resume
  • professionally present yourself
  • fill up your portfolio with examples
  • use video material

“By using video material, your clients will not see you like a list of skills and previous experiences, but as a real person that has these skills and experiences and that provides a certain service for them.”

She adds: “Have a detailed strategy when choosing your first employer. Choose your first employer wisely, very wisely. I can’t emphasize enough how important this is”.

When Tijana took her first freelancing job, she considered the following:

  • how was the employer rated by other freelancers who worked for him previously
  • how does the employer rate other freelancers
  • how much money had they already spent on the platform
  • the number of open positions for a specific job and the number of freelancers that have already applied 

“The first job is not all about the money. Don’t get greedy on your first job. If you get good recommendations, your second job can pay two to three times more. And your third job can go up to five times more. That was my experience.”

Take responsibility as a freelancer

Tijana reminds us: “Freedom often comes with responsibility; individual responsibility is key when it comes to freelancing.”

She advises others not to take a job if you can not make a deadline and have someone reliable who can help you. 

Missing deadlines will cost your client money and affect the review the client will be willing to leave about your job, and this can have a big impact on your future opportunities or freelance jobs.

She adds: “This can start a downward spiral for your career. However, we are all humans, and unpredictable things can happen. If for some reason you are not able to complete your work in a timely manner, let your client know immediately so they can have enough time to hire someone else”.

Tijana emphasizes the importance of making expectations clear before accepting a job, both what the client is expecting and what you can expect from the client. 

Lastly, she points out that if you are working from home, your friends and family should treat you the way they would if you were in an office. She advises: “Let them know about your working schedule.”

She hopes that these basic guidelines will be useful in launching freelance careers, as they did her, even though there is no universal recipe for all.

Tijana highlights: “It’s just important to stay focused on your goals and to be open to new opportunities.” Freelancing wasn’t the only way she could have fulfilled her goals, but it was an important part of her path, and it helped her be confident in her abilities to make the next big step in her life.

As a freelancer, she was missing close relationships with colleagues and teamwork, which she has now found in her current firm. Her colleagues describe her as a: “walking-talking bundle of superpowers: sports medicine and fitness professional, SEO expert, blogger, designer and a kitty foster mum”.

Conference reception

If you are considering starting your career as a freelancer, take the courses offered at learn.wordpress.org, reach out to companies that you would be interested in working with, and remember that there are a whole host of opportunities in the WordPress project.

The WordPress.org Teams – what they do, when and where they meet

Learn WordPress resource – free to use to expand your knowledge and skills of using the platform and learning about the community around it.

The 3-day WordCamp Europe 2021 online event begins on 7 June 2021. You can discover more about being a contributor in its live sessions and section on ways to contribute to WordPress.

Contributors

Thanks to Olga Gleckler (@oglekler), Abha Thakor (@webcommsat), Chloé Bringmann (@cbringmann), Surendra Thakor (@sthakor), and Meher Bala (@meher) for working on this story. Josepha Haden (@chanthaboune) and also to Topher DeRosia (@topher1kenobe) who created HeroPress. Thank you to Tijana Andrejic (@andtijana) for sharing her #ContributorStory

HeroPress logo

This post is based on an article originally published on HeroPress.com. It highlights people in the WordPress community who have overcome barriers and whose stories would otherwise go unheard.

Meet more WordPress community members in our People of WordPress series.

#ContributorStory #HeroPress

People of WordPress: Fike Komala

WordPress is open source software, maintained by a global network of contributors. There are many examples of how WordPress has changed people’s lives for the better. In this monthly series, we share some of the amazing stories that are not as well known.

Creating content with WordPress and blogging helped Fike Komala, from Indonesia, build a career where she can work remotely from different locations in the world.

In 2020, Fike joined a US-based company that specializes in form building to work as a content marketer. Using her experience as a freelancer and later a full time employee, she encourages others, particularly women in Asia, to consider remote work as a career option. She is so impressed by remote working benefits, that she is now considering writing about it for a thesis for her Master’s Degree, which she started this year in Europe.

Fike pictured with a snow background

As a keen blogger, WordPress immediately impressed Fike. Her dad is a programmer, and he helped her create the first of many blogs starting when she was 10 years old. She had private and public blogs, and even an English language one to help her practice and improve her skills.

“I got satisfaction and happiness from pouring my thoughts in writing and publishing them in my blog. Writing my thoughts and feelings often helped me process them, and does even now.”

Fike Komala

With a natural talent and love for languages, Fike pursued an Information Systems degree after graduating from high school. Her course covered business learning Java, HTML, CSS, Javascript, and Android programming. She also took courses to learn Bootstrap and Ruby on Rails. 

Earning Through Building With WordPress

Fike’s parents had a business building websites. She was drawn to this work and would help proofread and format the articles. This is how she first encountered WordPress, which was to play a pivotal role in her future career.

“I saw WordPress as something more advanced than other platforms, with more themes and plugins to choose from. The default WordPress websites already looked more professional than others.”

Fike Komala

Throughout school, Fike’s experience with WordPress and blogging helped her earn extra money safely online, including translating texts from English to Indonesia, online surveys, and writing articles in English.

Discovering Work You Enjoy 

The last year at University required a year-long full-time internship. Fike worked as an intern at a big general insurance company within the IT quality control staff. She enjoyed working with the people she met and learned a lot through this opportunity, but she declined the offer of a full-time position. 

Fike is a good student who loves learning and did well in her education. Through her traditional internship experience, she found that programming in an office job did not fulfill her. It strengthened her belief in a finding a career where she could have the freedom and creativity of working remotely.

“I was a good student, I love learning algorithms, but I didn’t love programming. I’m not that person who can stay calm finding errors in their codes, and then finding out that it’s only missing a character,” said Fike. She added: “I don’t really like the fact that I have to wake up at 6 AM and be back home at 7 PM, and do it all over again the next day.”

Adventure Into Remote Work 

Fike spent time improving her freelance profile, revising it, and applying to jobs as a virtual assistant. She was willing to do any small website jobs such as formatting WordPress posts, designing social media posts, and processing orders for online shops. Through a freelance job submission site, she was able to work with people from across the globe, including Singapore, Australia, Europe, and America. Through the site, Fike was able to gain experience with remote working tools like Slack, Asana, Trello, and Google Suites, and the work gave her practice writing in English. 

It was through this site that Fike saw a job opportunity with a WordPress plugin company. She sent in her profile and blog. 

“This was my first time being interviewed via a video call. I was ecstatic but panicked. On the day, I woke up at 4 AM, got dressed, and opened my laptop. Weirdly, my wi-fi died that morning. So I went to the nearest cafe to get the interview done, and it went great!”

She was hired to deliver consistency on the company’s blog. 

Through her job, Fike first began to contribute within the WordPress community and was able to attend her first WordCamp, WordCamp Jakarta 2018, sponsored by her firm. Through WordPress, Fike has met many generous, trusting, and helpful people.

She said: “Because I’ve experienced the generosity of the WordPress people, I wanted to give back to the community.”

WordCamp swag
Swag from WordCamp Jakarta 2018, that’s Wapuu ondel-ondel!

“I got to know the amazing community behind WordPress. How people voluntarily contribute their time, energy, and skills to the community, from development, marketing to translating. It was really inspiring.”

Fike Komala

You Can Inspire Others Through Contributing

Fike has been an inspiration to people in her local community and globally within the WordPress community through her enthusiasm and energy. 

She talks about her joy in contributing during a live interview as part of WordPress Translation Day in 2020. 

So determined to encourage others to become translators of WordPress, she joined the Global Translation Day event with the Indonesian Community last year and took part in wider marketing of the event. She is pictured below with some of the Indonesian polyglots team.

She continues to support the polyglots and is a General Translation Editor for the Indonesian language. Last year, she also voiced an Indonesian translation of the onboarding video for new contributors joining WordPress.org. She has been a regular contributor to the PerempuanWP, an initiative for Indonesian women working in the WordPress world. Working with a firm which uses the WordPress platform has strengthened her familiarity with projects in the community and encourages her interest in contributing.

Indonesian translation team

To learn more about contributing to WordPress, visit make.wordpress.org/ and follow the “get involved” link. You can join any of the weekly team meetings to get started, and there is a lot of help available. 

Fike says, “I want to represent Asian women. In the future, I hope I can inspire more women, especially Asians, to work remotely.” She is now studying in Europe for a Master’s in Digital Communication Leadership. She hopes to use her learning to help other women, particularly back in her home country of Indonesia.

She continues to share her energy for learning and remote working.

Just learn things. As much as you can. From anywhere, about anything. Keep an open mind. Read books, listen to podcasts, and learn new skills.”

She added: “If you’re working in the WordPress world, join the WordPress community. It’s a great place to learn from and connect with great people.”

Contributors

Thanks to Abha Thakor (@webcommsat) and Meg Phillips (@megphillips91) for writing this feature, to Surendra Thakor (@sthakor), Meher Bala (@meher), Larissa Murillo (@lmurillom), Josepha Haden (@chanthaboune), Chloé Bringmann (@cbringmann) for additional support and graphics, and to Topher DeRosia (@topher1kenobe) who created HeroPress. Thank you to Fike Komala (@fikekomala) for sharing her #ContributorStory.

HeroPress logo

This post is based on an article originally published on HeroPress.com. It highlights people in the WordPress community who have overcome barriers and whose stories would otherwise go unheard.

Meet more WordPress community members in our People of WordPress series.

#ContributorStory #HeroPress #WPTranslationDay

People of WordPress: Tyler Lau

WordPress is open source software, maintained by a global network of contributors. There are many examples of how WordPress has changed people’s lives for the better. In this monthly series, we share some of the amazing stories that are lesser-known.

Embrace Who You Are and Your Journey

In this People of WordPress contributor story, we chat to Tyler Lau from the US on his relationship building work in marketing and his WordPress journey.

Read on to discover his story which shows it is often what you have learned from negative experiences in your life that can make you a major asset to a product team.

Tyler Lau stood in front of a colorful mural

An Entrepreneurial Mindset

Tyler recalls he always had a knack for spotting a enterprise ideas. As an industrious seven-year-old, he was already finding ways to make sales during the school breaks. 

While many entrepreneurs have similar stories, Tyler’s path took many turns before he discovered and thrived in the WordPress community.

He was drawn to both the software and the community that surrounds it from his search for personal and professional freedom. He ultimately was able to combine his various business interests and people skills into professional marketing work.

Using your skills to uncover your journey

Tyler Lau pictured sat on a chair using his mobile phone in his social media work

Tyler’s current role is as a Marketing Relationship Builder, based in Kansas, USA. His responsibilities span across all digital properties and products, leveraging his broad set of business and people skills.

These skills are amplified by his creativity and adaptability. Tyler says that one reason he is always looking for new projects is his Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), a diagnosis he received in 2005.

In an industry built by programmers and developers who often have a strong sense of focus, Tyler felt that someone with ADHD wouldn’t be seen as a natural fit. He found the WordPress community to be a place where everyone can find the right spot for their unique skills. Tyler’s skill is people, and this has translated into many opportunities and responsibilities in his work life. His skills have also helped him give back to the WordPress community as a speaker and volunteer, and through multiple contributor days.

Relationship-building as a career

Most of Tyler’s experience was in the restaurant industry, and his resume did not exactly point to a career in tech. But the service industry actually prepared him well for everything he has taken on since.

When he is at work events, he meets people from across the world and builds connections with them. As an extrovert, he enjoys this and couldn’t imagine a job where he was isolated from getting to know others and relationship-building.

Understanding people and being able to operate in any setting are key competencies. Social skills and tact are useful for community building in the WordPress space too, and in Tyler’s life at different times it has been necessary for survival.

The true meaning of freedom

In the WordPress community, the concept of freedom comes up often. WordPress is built on GPL, free software, and open-source values. Practically speaking, anyone can work remotely or be their own boss to gain more freedom in work and life. Tyler feels that he never fitted into a traditional work mould. With his strong focus on freedom, he found this resonated with the freedom and opportunities he believes WordPress provides him and thousands of others.

Tyler describes how in 2013 his ‘inner opportunist’ got him into trouble. After dropping out of college following a brain aneurysm, he needed capital to fund his first startup. He shares that he found a quick but unlawful way to make money. Alongside this between shifts as a waiter, he worked on prototypes for his first product. The company was growing fast, and to protect his patents and take research and development to the next level, he had to work hard. Everything came to a halt when some of the actions he took resulted in being sent to prison.

He says that meeting other inmates reminded him that he was in a much better situation than most. He was educated, well-off, loved, and knew he had a future once he was released. He found that many inmates never graduated from high school and were computer illiterate. While inside, Tyler taught subjects like science, math, writing, reading, and social studies. He found that due to the lack of skills and support, many inmates would struggle upon release. He believes getting the mental health support and job training needed to thrive after prison is not easy for many.

There’s more to freedom than just being on the outside. You also need a sense of agency and enfranchisement,” says Tyler. He considered his sense of purpose and support network were plenty to keep him going and was ready to take on his next (legal) business challenge as soon as he could.

Going forward positively 

Tyler Lau portrait picture

The idea that your past doesn’t define you and you can choose to embrace it, is a key driver for Tyler.

He describes himself as an outlier in many ways. He recalls how politics influenced his life from the day he was born. Tyler’s father is a semi-dissident Chinese visual anthropologist, his mother is an art professor who left her home country of Japan to break free from traditional Japanese gender roles. Tyler feels he inherited a lot of this fearlessness.

I’ve never fitted in, and yet this is what makes me able to adapt to most situations and relate to just about anyone. I embrace my eclectic, dissonant past and see beauty in the person those experiences shaped me to be,” says Tyler. 

Now, he’s able to put those skills to good use in the WordPress community and beyond. 

He says: “Regardless of your physical abilities, mental health struggles, upbringing, and even your run-ins with the law, no one is excluded from carving their place in the WordPress industry”.

Contributors

Thank you to Tyler Lau (@tylermaximus) for sharing his #ContributorStory.

Thanks to Larissa Murillo (@lmurillom), Surendra Thakor (@sthakor), Olga Gleckler (@oglekler), Meher Bala (@meher), Yvette Sonneveld (@yvettesonneveld), Abha Thakor (@webcommsat), Josepha Haden (@chanthaboune), Chloé Bringmann (@cbringmann) and Topher DeRosia (@topher1kenobe) for working on the People of WordPress series.

HeroPress logo

This post is based on an article originally published on HeroPress.com, a community initiative created by Topher DeRosia. It highlights people in the WordPress community who have overcome barriers and whose stories would otherwise go unheard.

Meet more WordPress community members in our People of WordPress series.

#ContributorStory #HeroPress

People of WordPress: Olga Gleckler

WordPress is open source software, maintained by a global network of contributors. There are many examples of how WordPress has changed people’s lives for the better. In this monthly series, we share some of the amazing stories that are lesser-known.

From a natural interest in computers and fixing things as a young woman, Olga Gleckler from St Petersburg, Russia, found WordPress took her on a journey to becoming a successful female tech entrepreneur. On International Women’s Day, we share her story.  

Olga with a WordCamp Vienna t-shirt

Finding your path can take longer than you expect

From the age of 15, Olga found herself under pressure to find a free place for her professional studies. She said: “I didn’t know how high or low my chances were even if I had very good marks. I could have been just the biggest fish in a small pond. But anyway, I made up my mind to go to technical school.”

On leaving school in St Petersburg with her certificate, Olga felt her knowledge of opportunities was very narrow. She had pictured being an ecologist or guide translator based on the subjects she had been taught at school. There was also an advertising boom in Russia and she began to explore this as a career avenue. She had developed her computer skills and found opportunities to practise by helping her teachers with administrative work.

Though she did not have access to any formal career advice, her journey led her into programming. She said: “The range of technical schools was not wide. I spent four years studying transistor markings, soldering and drawing PCB layouts. Programming courses using Pascal didn’t do anything useful with it.”

A lack of suitable access to English-language courses made things harder for Olga. She was determined that she would master the language later in her life. In the meantime, she left technical school with an honors degree and improved typing skills.

“I faced it was a wild, unfriendly market. I didn’t know how to recognize a genuine job offer or how to avoid the bad ones. It was difficult and I don’t know how long I would’ve looked for work without help.”

Think differently to find where you belong

Olga’s father worked in an IT company and was able to give her some advice and help with potential introductions. When she was still studying, he suggested her strong technical skills might be useful as a substitute typist. When she finished her studies, he helped her apply for a job updating a legal system on clients’ computers.

Six months later, she got a full-time job in the same service department. She liked her position and her clients. However, she was given friendly advice that without a university degree she would not be able to have any further promotions.

At this time, Olga was trying to study PHP from a book. She found it very exciting at first, but a lot of their functions did not give her explanations on how to build something useful. She found when she tried to build practical items from book reading, it did not always make sense and the solutions would often fail. 

She said: “It was hard to admit a failure even to myself and it was nagging me for a long time. I had to choose something I could handle, that I was interested in and could afford. It turned out to be advertising.”

She spent most of the family’s holidays on learning sessions during the next six years. Olga recalled: “It was tricky for my husband to make me leave a computer, once I was glued to it, so he bought me my first laptop. English was still hard for me, I got high marks through just memorizing all the words in a textbook and how they should sound.”

Doubting your professional skills can happen when you are at home isolated looking after children. Keeping up your interests is important.

Olga’s life took a change after having a new baby and she spent three years doubting her professional skills and her chances of getting a good job. She tried to get back into other interests through studying, baking and drawing, but found ‘the pram was pulling me back’. She found she became very isolated and felt less able to contribute as the family was relying on her husband’s income as she tried to focus on looking forward.

She said: “I was convinced (and saw) that not too many companies wanted a woman in the office, who with a small baby might need lots of leave.”

She finished her education when she returned to work after three years caring for her son. She secured a promotion but with changes in the company’s staffing, things were tense. She found the difficulties there had become more heightened and felt that young female colleagues were treated as ‘pieces of furniture’ by one manager. She did not want to stay in this environment and in a few months time decided to leave.

Your next chapter may be nearby

Determined to not repeat this type of experience, Olga looked at the brighter side. She said: “I wanted to be a marketer. Knowing how tricky it is to sell intangibles, I wanted a solid product to work with.” 

It turned out to be more difficult to find a job outside traditional IT as a young mother. Some human resource officers advised her to remain within the technology arena.

Olga remained hopeful and continued to study hard. She had many learning experiences along the way, which she hopes others can learn from too. One was setting a low bar to employers. She said: “Companies I worked in wanted to get all publicity and sales increases achieved through deductions from my salary.” This happened once and the next time she was in this situation she asked specifically about the budget before signing up. “I was assured this would not be the case, but again I found the budget for publicity came out of my wages. It was a tough period of disappointments. So when I was offered a part-time administrative job with basic sick leave, I took it gladly as a reprieve.”

The job was far from home and involved a lot of travelling. Olga spent two to three hours a day on buses with Harry Potter audio books for company. “In these traffic jams, I started to feel English at last and loved it. It gave me a freedom no money can buy. Life was getting better.”

Though the job did not pay highly, it gave her something valuable – a working website. After her boss and the developer parted company, she was asked to maintain the site. Through some studying and reverse engineering, she discovered how it worked and it gave her an insight into how to write simple websites from scratch.

Olga’s first encounter with JavaScript wasn’t easy: “My first JavaScript calculator almost made me crazy, but I pursued it.”

Quickly she started to get small tasks from friends and relatives, usually to solve some urgent problems and started to meet popular content management systems. One of the first she met with was WordPress. There was an issue in a website theme used by a website which had been changed and not maintained. It took a whole weekend to solve, but she was determined to work it out. Back then, WordPress was ‘just a system’. She didn’t know then how much it was to become part of her life.

Olga spent the next two years in this role. As time went on, she started to feel worried and less satisfied with the work. The last straw for her was a negative statement from her boss, who was not a programmer and who hadn’t seen any of the work done on the website. She felt the approach was unfair as she had done extensive work on the site. She recalls: “I became angry, but it was exactly what I needed to move jobs.”

When Olga was job hunting, she didn’t feel she had the courage to apply for a developer’s role, despite the learning and work she had already done. So instead she started working on projects where she felt she was more like a ‘seller of box-ready websites’. It was another tough half a year for her with a lot of work, low payment and plans not turning out as she had hoped. On top of long hours, she ended up with pneumonia. She said: “I see now that I was doing a disservice to customers, websites are not a microwave meal – quick, cheap and dummy. There was no life in the sites without a lot of work which no one was willing to buy. Most of the sites I sold back then died after the first year and they never were truly alive and useful.”

You need to be brave and have courage

Olga in Berlin wearing the WordPress Code is Poetry lanyard and a WordCamp t-shirt

Olga really wanted a developer job but seeking jobs of this type was very frustrating. From the job adverts she found, it felt like most IT companies were asking for geniuses who already knew a lot of technologies and frameworks. She found this very demotivating.

She then found a job offer on a website outside the most popular job portals and it seemed like a perfect fit. They wanted someone with experience to write from scratch, understand someone else’s code and maintain it, with an ability to translate technical documentation and articles, and make simple designs for printing products. After completing a trial task, she was taken on, and enjoyed a better salary, in a calm environment with good colleagues and without the requirement for a lot of extra hours. 

The advert turned out to be a direct ad from one of the sales departments in a technology company. By succeeding in the task set, Olga had bypassed the Human Resources team which she felt would not normally have considered her. 

Her boss agreed to her working remotely most of the time. It solved any potential leave problems which Olga had thought may be an obstacle. 

For Olga it had been 14 years since the original decision to become a programmer and it was only the beginning. 

After a few years at what she describes as an ‘amazing experience’ in this workplace, Olga felt able to move on to her next challenge as a developer.

Decision-making can benefit from wider knowledge

After working with different systems Olga became sure that WordPress is the best CMS for developers and clients. But she was disappointed to find that the ease of use meant that good code was not always a priority for some of the sites she looked at. 

“The biggest flaw of WordPress – it’s so easy to make things work that some may feel they don’t need to bother to do things right, but this becomes a problem later.”

In custom themes for a site, she also saw sites being made and clients left without any further support, or items hard coded when clients actually needed more control to change regularly.

Olga used to rely on examples she could easily find, documentation and search engines to improve her understanding in using WordPress. She discovered that just by searching for a specific feature or a solution, you can miss the whole picture. 

She turned to online courses to get more comprehensive knowledge and then started to attend WordPress events, firstly online and then by foot, trains and planes! She discovered a worldwide community that was very much alive. She didn’t know when she started studying online materials and attending discussions that she would end up contributing herself to the Learn WordPress platform a few years later.

WordCamps and contributor days became a big part of her life. From her early days attending events and starting out contributing to WordPress, she is an active member of the WordPress.org Global Marketing and Polyglots Teams, and supported the recent WordPress release. She is just beginning her first WordCamp organiser experience, joining WordCamp Europe 2021 on the Contribute Team.

Olga next to a banner of WordCamp St Petersburg 2018

Olga said: “Through the wider WordPress community, I knew not only where to look but also whom to ask. Most importantly, I found allies who don’t think I’m going crazy by speaking with delight about work, and with whom I share a passion and fondness for WordPress. This is what matters.

“Now, after more than seven years of full time development, I am still enjoying endless learning, frequent discoveries, mistakes and an impassioned wish to do better.”

This and a desire to help others use WordPress.org is part of Olga’s continued contribution to its Support and Marketing Teams, and led her to be involved in the Release Marketing questions and answers in 2020.

There is no chequered flag on the way

Olga at WordCamp Europe in Berlin in 2019

The road to freedom and becoming her own boss has not been easy for Olga. It is the path that got her where she is today, and she continues to find joy in it. She retains the lessons she’s learned and is always hungry to learn more.

 “I travelled through a very uneven path, with a lot of obstacles and noise, but for me it’s like a kaleidoscope where a little turn presents a new picture, a new “ah-ha” moment, new excitement after seemingly pointless efforts.” 

She added: “When in doubt I remind myself about David Ogilvy (generally considered the Founding Father of the modern advertising industry) who tried a lot of things before he struck gold with advertising, and maybe that’s why he did.”

Finally, she learned not only to keep a good spirit and try different things, but also to dare as you move forward.

Contributors

Thanks to Abha Thakor (@webcommsat), Nalini Thakor (@nalininonstopnewsuk), Larissa Murillo (@lmurillom), Meher Bala (@meher), Josepha Haden (@chanthaboune), Chloé Bringmann (@cbringmann) and Topher DeRosia (@topher1kenobe). Thank you to Olga Gleckler (@oglekler) for sharing her #ContributorStory.

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This post is based on an article originally published on HeroPress.com, a community initiative created by Topher DeRosia. It highlights people in the WordPress community who have overcome barriers and whose stories would otherwise go unheard.

Meet more WordPress community members in our People of WordPress series.

#ContributorStory #HeroPress

Photo credits: 2nd and 4th Pablo Gigena, Berlin, 2019