A day in the life of a Cybersecurity Data Engineer: Desislava Andreeva on facing new challenges and pursuing her dream job

What is it like to work in the IT industry in Bulgaria? This is a question many people interested in a career in the sector ask themselves. So, we, at BICA, gathered some of the people that we helped find the right job to share their stories. With this series of interviews, we are aiming to show people how everyday life of a person working in the IT sector goes. We hope to break some clichés about the professionals employed in the industry and inspire more individuals considering a career in IT.

Today, we will share with you the story of Desislava Andreeva, a young professional who started her career in the industry because she wanted to participate in building products that would make an impact in people’s daily life. In this interview, Desi shares how she managed to overcome her insecurities and decided to apply for a job in a field she really wanted to develop in. How did BICA help her with the process? What is her motivation to take part in the Women Who Code events as a lecturer? Discover this and a lot more about Desi and her story in the interview.

Can you describe yourself in a few sentences?

My name is Desislava and I am 26 years old. I’ve been working as a software engineer for more than 6 years. I started my career working as an embedded developer with C, but over a year ago I became involved in cybersecurity by joining the Security analytics team of VMware Carbon Black Bulgaria.

Outside of work, I love exercising and cooking, especially sweets which I can’t resist sharing in the office. Also, I take care of two adorable kittens, which I recently sheltered.

Can you tell us a bit more about your job?

If I have to summarize it in one sentence, I build big data pipelines, which gather and process data from different sources. My position is very interesting, it is not only technically challenging, but requires collaboration with different teams and people with diverse expertise, cultures and backgrounds. Depending on the case, I may need to work with product managers, SREs, data scientists, backend developers and UI experts. This not only allows me to study various components from our product in great detail, but also has a positive effect on my professional and personal growth.

How does a day in your life go? Do you have a usual routine (waking up, coping with tasks, activities in your spare time)?

I work in a very dynamic environment and I wouldn’t say I have a fixed routine. Usually I start my day with a cup of coffee, a daily sync-up meeting with my team and then I get on with the tasks I have for the day.

I like the hybrid working model, which allows me to work from wherever I want. When I work from home, I go on a walk after a few hours of coding tasks to clear up my mind. When I am at the office, I take coffee breaks with my colleagues instead. You’d be surprised how many of us are aspiring latte artists!

I highly value the flexibility that VMware offers, that way I can structure my tasks for the day to be more productive, both in my personal and professional aspects.

I usually finish off my days with exercising or hanging out with friends.

How did you decide to start a career in the IT sector? What was your biggest motivation?

It was very hard for me to choose a career path because I had a lot of different interests back in high school and I was constantly changing my mind about my future plans. I always had an inner feeling that software engineering would be the right choice and I just followed my intuition.

Today, I am really pleased with the decision I made. I feel very satisfied with my job — I am surrounded by amazing colleagues, I have the freedom to work from wherever I want and I am able to build a great work-life balance. However, the industry has some drawbacks — sometimes the job may be quite stressful and it is not so uncommon to work late in the evening. Also, the lack of movement during the day does pile up, if one is not taking enough breaks. Nevertheless, these are just minor discomforts that are greatly outweighed by the advantages of our work.

As to what my biggest motivation is, I really like the sense of accomplishment I get when I complete a task that, at first, looked impossible.

What is the biggest challenge you previously faced when looking for a job?

My biggest challenge when looking for a job was the lack of self confidence I used to have. There were moments in the past when I was going through potential job offers where I had convinced myself that I was not qualified enough.

That was the case when I applied for my current job. But things turned out great and the process was completely different from my expectations. Even after the first interview those doubts were gone. I was evaluated not by the number of technologies or languages I know, but by the way I think, my personality and approach toward solving a problem.

How did BICA help with the process? Tell us more about your experience with the company?

BICA helped me with the hiring process in a few different ways. First, they presented me with this position in the cybersecurity domain, something that I always wanted to try. My self doubts came out and I almost didn’t apply for this job, but the professionals from BICA — Bilyana Hristovska and Slavka Andonova to be specific, convinced me it’s the right opportunity for me and that I should at least give it a try. They supported me throughout the whole process and I never felt alone in this journey.

I received honest and constructive feedback at every step of the process, which helped me to better prepare for the upcoming interviews. I could definitely say they had a personal approach toward me which helped me build up my confidence during the hiring process.

What is the one thing you look for in a company when choosing your employer?

I think the three main factors when choosing an employer are product, team, and self development opportunities.

The product is very important for me because I want to work on something significant that addresses a global problem. That way I feel like my work actually makes a difference for the community. It also has to be innovative, so that I would be able to take part in tackling unsolved problems and work with the latest technologies.

Building a great product wouldn’t be possible without a strong team. For me, it’s important to have both people to learn from and share my knowledge with, and so ideally, the teams should consist of some experienced people and some young professionals. This way I can learn a lot from the experts with great experience, while also sharing my knowledge with the young colleagues that are at the beginning of their careers.

The ability to develop myself as a professional is also a key factor so that I can deepen my knowledge in certain areas, take on more responsibilities and simultaneously go through different positions on the career ladder. And I am very happy that VMware ticks all these boxes and gives me the opportunity to develop myself in a strong team while working on innovative projects.

You previously worked in a small team, now you are part of a big corporation. What is the difference between the two?

I think both big corporations and small enterprises have their pros and cons. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to work for both and had great experiences.

Regardless of its size, a company’s culture should be based on the creative, outside of the box thinking of its employees. Some people worry that this is lost in bigger companies — but this is actually highly valued and encouraged at VMware.

Working for a bigger corporation gives you access to a wide variety of resources, at hand trainings and unlimited possibilities for career development.

One common belief about large-scale organizations is that there is no personal attitude toward team members. This is not universally true. I am currently working in a big corporation, but at the same time I am part of a small team in which each member is extremely important and valuable. This breaks the common belief that professionals working in large corporations cannot express their own individuality and at the same time resonate with the collective company culture.

You are an active member and a lecturer at Women Who Code events. What is the reason you decided to be part of this community?

As I mentioned earlier, I started my career in a small company working as a C programmer, and to be honest there weren’t a lot of females in the team. In the beginning of my career, I faced different challenges and insecurities in my professional development, which only other women would understand and relate to. Most of the time, I had no one to share them with or anyone to take advice from — I often felt alone.

This makes you realize how crucial the role of the events organized by Women Who Code really is. During these events, you can learn from the experience of other women who were in a similar situation to the one you’ve been in. This helps you to better understand yourself and build up confidence that you can tackle this problem or challenge. I think these initiatives help toward building a great community in Bulgaria based on sharing knowledge and experiences.

What do you want to achieve in the future?

If we talk about the near future I usually set myself short-term goals, which are feasible for a measurable amount of time, like improving my knowledge of certain technologies or learning new skills.

I also have some things I want to achieve in the long run — both personally and professionally, but I’ve learned through my experience that nothing is guaranteed and my vision for the future might change quite drastically. That’s why my main goal is to feel happy and satisfied both with the end result and the whole journey.

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