“There was nothing more to try in this profession; I wanted something drastically new.”

Image of Kateryna Begantseva
From Sommelier to Tech

Kateryna Begantseva had her eye on a new sector, but was told that the training required would be difficult. Here, she shares how she rose to the challenge and shifted into work she's excited about.

What work were you doing previously? 

I worked as a sommelier for eight years.

What are you doing now? 

Today, I'm a frontend developer in the global financial ecosystem and cryptocurrency exchange Kyrrex.

My role in the team is to embody customers’ ideas and our experts’ work in a cool and user-friendly interface.

Marketers, designers, and developers work on the Kyrrex site to design a modern, user-friendly, and clear interface for our users, and my main task is to implement it. 

How did you feel in your work before you decided to make the change? 

Having mastered some sommelier skills, I helped with compiling wine lists for restaurants and openings of wine boutiques.

I even managed to work on American cruise liners.  

Wine culture, traditions, and different technologies of making drinks – all this fascinated me incredibly. 

Why did you change? 

When I realized that I'd worked in most of the areas available to sommeliers and there was nothing more to try in this profession, I started to think about what else I'd like to do.

I wanted something drastically new.

That’s when I decided to challenge myself with software development. There is an opinion that you need to learn programming almost from childhood, but I was wondering what was so complicated about it?

In my view, everyone can learn anything, no matter how difficult it may be. What really matters is motivation, effort, and time.

How did you choose your new career? 

After the cruise job, I realized how great it is to work remotely and build your career from any place around the world – this was a decisive condition for me. 

The IT industry attracted me due to its unique technologies and development. I wanted to take a quick look and see how everything works from the inside, or even create something of my own. The further you go, the more interesting you find it!

Are you happy with the change? 


If someone told me eight years ago that I'd create interfaces for apps, I'd probably laugh in their face. 

However, I'm a person who is constantly trying to learn something radically new. 

How did you go about making the shift? 

After analyzing popular IT areas, I chose backend development. 

Simply put, it relates to a website logic outside a user's browser. Then I found an appropriate IT school, talked to a curator, and he persuaded me first to try the frontend, then learn how to work with the backend.

Frontend development relates to a user interface and the client side of software. Basically, that is what you see and interact with on a web page or in an app.

Following the advice, I attended the full-stack course, which includes first studying the frontend, and then the backend. I remember how it was to this day: the curator asked me several times if I understood that it would be difficult and I'd have to learn a lot. Such a challenge only spurred my enthusiasm.

The frontend course included six months of diligent study, then it took me about two months to write the first code in a team. I spent all my free time on IT education – even during breaks at work, I was reading something related to development. 

Six months after graduation, I got my first job as a junior frontend developer at Kyrrex.

An acquaintance from the courses recommended the team to hire me. I had a successful outcome from the interview, then a trial period, and then a dream offer after that.

While I'd heard about cryptocurrencies, I'd never gone into detail about how everything worked. However, this only kept my motivation sharp to immerse myself in new technologies.

How did you develop (or transfer) the skills you needed for your new role? 

When you change your occupation, you might have to learn a lot from scratch.

But previous professional experience will come in handy, especially in tech. All skills and knowledge (even non-technical) can be applied here.

In my case, it's the ability to absorb a lot of information, pro-actively look for solutions on your own, and to be friendly and intuitive.  

How did you handle your finances to make your shift possible? 

It was important for me to study while still working, so I had my regular income coming in. 

What was the most difficult thing about changing? 

During the transition to tech, I faced some common stereotypes.

Starting from “you need a technical faculty diploma”,‎ to “you’re too old‎.” It was rather funny. If something similar happens to you, don't believe in those stereotypes.

If you’re motivated, nothing will stand in your way of mastering a new occupation.

The most difficult thing in the learning process for me was catching on to a large amount of information in a short period of time. It is important not to give up and reach at least the middle of the course. It will become a little easier eventually.

It can be difficult to overcome imposter syndrome when fulfilling the first commercial orders. What I can advise is to stop trying to do everything perfectly.

In tech, it’s more important to understand the essence of the task and how your work is related to other parts of the project. Try to see the full picture, not just the technical aspects of what you do.

Also, never be afraid to ask questions.

What help did you get? 

Our team helps me a lot.

All my colleagues have a lot of experience and always give fitting advice. Both at the beginning and now, they remain a role model for me and are very motivating to develop further.

It's no exaggeration to say that team support is key for shifter adaptation. When the team has a clear plan and desire to develop the product and the company at all levels, and you are a motivated specialist, it's a win-win situation.

Suppose the management entrusts the newcomer with new tasks that may not be included in the list of their skills. In that case, it motivates them, makes them feel responsible and confident, and gives them a chance to contribute to the company’s development.

What have you learnt in the process? 

When I started looking for a job as a junior frontend developer, I suddenly started receiving many offers (and attractive ones) related to my past work.

I learnt that there'll always be circumstances on your new path that will distract you from your goals. The question is whether you'll return to the old, familiar life or find the courage to learn new skills and become a professional in another field.

What would you advise others to do in the same situation?

Be confident in your abilities if you decide to change your professional life – and you will achieve what you want.

No more doubts – start acting!

If you decide to go for tech/IT, I’d advise you to research what areas are currently popular.

If you haven't mastered a programming language for the first time, that doesn't mean you have to stop. You may want to try another one. Only trying will help you understand if it is the right choice. 

The world is constantly changing; new professions appear, and old ones are digitized.

If you don’t want to be a developer, there are many specialties in the tech field that are not directly related to development. For example, product and project management, recruitment, business analysis. Perhaps your previous experience will be very useful here.

Thanks to our friends at Kyrrex for this story.

Plus, if you know someone who's made a successful shift into work they love, we'd love to hear from you. Drop us a line at [email protected]. and you could win a £25 / $35 voucher in our monthly draw.