IUS Student Rialda Spahić: When you learn how to code, you start perceiving everything differently

Rialda Spahić, fourth-year student of IUS Computer Science and Engineering program, gave an interview for ITGirls.ba about her love for programming, voluntary activities projects and her future, as well. Read the full interview:

You are fourth-year Computer Science student at the International University of Sarajevo. What was the main reason that you chose Computer Science as your major?

When I was a teenager, I loved playing computer games and to maintain the computers in one internet club in which I worked during weekends. I did not know what are the programmers, it sounded to me so mysterious, but it awakened the desire for it. During my last year in Gymnasium, I decided to say „IT or I don't know anything else“ and that is how I, with the support from my parents and sister, enrolled at the CS program of IUS. I have to admit that I was scared because I started with something what was very mysterious for me. I did my best to understand what I will work on, and to try to study on time. If I come four years back, I would repeat everything I did! Starting from the first year, I started with additional courses and seminars. These activities strengthened my love for this beautiful world even more!

Do you think that you made a good decision?

Yes, I did. I did what I always wanted, despite the fear, prejudices or stereotypes. During my studies, many doors of IT world have opened for me and I did all the best not just to follow the development of technology, but also to educate and inspire others to follow their dreams. IT offers endless possibilities and I always emphasize that to all of those who are not sure whether to go with IT. Today's technology is inevitable and is part of all of us, no matter what we do. We are constantly online and we are constantly "digitally connected" to each other. Elon Musk said: „We are already cyborgs. We have a digital version of ourself in the form of e-mail, social media and everything we do every day. We already have a super-power, the access to the smartphone and PC. We have more power than the president of the United States had 20 years ago. We can answer every question, have a video conference with anyone, anywhere, send messages to millions of people instantly! But this is only the beginning."

Why do you think that women are under-represented in the information technology sector?

From the very beginning, girls get dolls, rather than some mechanics to play with. Many researches showed that the way how we raise children has a huge influence on their interests. Luckily, this is being changed in the entire world with the development of IT. When you enter the IT company or any other engineering environment, you will see more men than women, and that fact discourages girls to be interested in IT. They think that IT is not the right field for them. Some of them told me: „Why you will go with IT, you are small, blonde, do you even know how to work on a computer, have you ever fixed something?“. This approach is wrong. The job of a programmer is wrongly presented, too. It is much more than a sitting in front of the monitor or fixing the mechanics. Thanks to the media, now it is more clear what does it mean and what do we do. It is a whole spectrum of interests that is much more funny than it is represented in the movies.

You worked in one IT company. Was it difficult to study and to work at the same time?

I have been running from the lectures to tram station, then to the company and vice-versa all the time. There were some days when I had to go from Ilidža to the Center 3-4 times per day and after that go home or even at some courses or conferences. I had a similar schedule during weekends, too. Although it sounds very stressful, I found it interesting, it gave me more energy and inspired me to continue with what I do. When you work on something that you like, nothing is difficult for you. Choose to work on something that you like, and you will not „have to“ work any single day.

What are the advantages of an IT career?

There are many interests you can find in IT, the working atmosphere is always great, continuous development and learning. It is interesting to visit Facebook and to think what are the algorithms needed for that specific website. Steve Jobs once said: „Everyone should learn to program, because programming teaches you how to think“. And that is true! When you learn to program, you have a different view on everything around you. Aside from that, you can program anywhere you go. You just need your computer and an internet connection.

How did you hear about ITGirls initiative?

I followed ITGirls on social media, but I had a first touch with this program in „Become an ITGirl“ project in Sarajevo. I heard about it over Microsoft Student Partner program, where I was a trainer with my colleagues Emina Prlja and Mirela Pešković. I became a member of a great team of ITGirls that created a digital revolution!

You were a trainer in the „Become an ITGirl“ trainings. Can you tell us something about that experience you gain by working with the girls?

After first „Become an ITGirl“ training, doors for the new projects have been constantly opening for me. This is one of my best experiences I had in my 22 years. I worked on trainings in Sarajevo, Srebrenica, Mostar, Banja Luka and other ITGirls events. I was not aware that these young generations were discouraged when it comes to IT even though we live in 2017! It is amazing to meet girls who want to learn something new and to create super things. It is great to know that you had an impact on them and their choice. We are in touch with all participants of our trainings and I can confirm that this project was necessary for our country. We make a great step forward for future generations of Bosnia and Herzegovina. I am proud of my team that works tirelessly on helping young girls to follow their dreams.

What is your personal motto?

No one should be afraid of what he/she does not know. Especially, people should not be discouraged by word „no“. Every single day you move your limits and the results will be shown. Our surrounding is full of the people who want to share their experiences and knowledge, so you have to know that you will always have support. One day, you will become a support to younger generations, after yours.

What is your message for girls who have to choose the way of their future career?

Just follow whatever you like, because once you go into the world of your field, you will not look back and ask yourself what could have happened in other cases. When you have a will and love, you will be good in what you do, for sure, and if you are good in what you do and love, your working day will not be long.