Finding Work: A leap of faith

cord helps Engineers direct message other people looking to hire them. But finding work isn’t just about access to hiring managers…

Finding your best work is a life’s journey uncovered through an ongoing conversation with ourselves and the world around us.

The Best Work Stories podcast hosts conversations between Ben (Co-founder and CEO of cord) and Founders, CTO’s, Software Engineers and people in tech who are on their own journey to find their best work.


Marco Escaleira (00:01):

The short answer is why not? Why not take the risk? Why not take the chance and go for with it. Put yourself in uncomfortable positions is the best thing that we can do. Mainly because that will make us grow. That will teach us experience good or bad but we will learn something from it.

Ben Henley-Smith (00:22):

Why are you a Software Engineer in the first place Marco?

Marco Escaleira (00:25):

I was 15 years old and I wanted to build computers. I ended up in a course of programming which I was not like “Okay let’s try it.” I knew I want something with computers. So 15 years old I started that course and I simply enjoyed it. So since I’m 15 that I’ve been learning how to code and many other things evolve with us only about coding. Will be nice if it was but it is not. So I started when I was 15 out of a bit of nowhere but now it’s something that I really want to take with my life and onwards because I really enjoy doing this and as long that is the case I’m happy and I will be continuing it.

Ben Henley-Smith (01:08):

It’s interesting. Finding your best work is a journey and a journey for you that’s taken you into a different country. I’d love to know where that moment came? When did you make the decision to move here?

Marco Escaleira (01:20):

Yeah. So I was 17, I was finishing my high school that we have there in Portugal. So we have 12 mandatory years. I was finishing it and I always wanted to go outside because I was seeing my friends coming to the UK to do their Bachelor’s Degrees but obviously they have fundings from their parents which I didn’t. So I end up “Okay, I’m staying here but let’s try to source in other ways.” So then I joined Mindera the company that I’m within now and the thing is after two years because this was around 2019/2018 I was “Okay, I’m now taking this step inwards to work as a front end developer and I’m going towards it so I might as well just delay my going to the UK.”

Marco Escaleira (02:11):

And this year literally in April there was a last chance of students like me to come to the UK. Still have the students loan and I was “Okay let me grab this chance and just go for it.” So it was a last minute decision and mainly because well now I can support myself and only depend on myself. So I came here as a skilled worker and not as a student. So for instance even the visa.

Marco Escaleira (02:41):

So it’s a bit of a different position but that will guarantee me that “Okay I’m coming to the UK with certainty that I’m staying well and living well properly. So therefore I’m going at with everything I can and let’s go for it.” So it was a last minute decision. I always wanted to go to the UK but I couldn’t and opportunity appeared. So why not? Why not go? Well it’s a rush, it’s last minute but everything should play out and yeah here I am. And dream what I do and try my best on everything. So that’s the main idea and also enjoy. Life is too short to not enjoy it so.

Ben Henley-Smith (03:28):

And were you working remotely for Mindera before you came to Leicester?

Marco Escaleira (03:34):

I was working in Mindera PT in Portugal office in this case.

Ben Henley-Smith (03:37):

Got it. Okay then transferred over here.

Marco Escaleira (03:39):

Yeah, yeah. So I came to the UK like that so.

Ben Henley-Smith (03:43):

And was that any part of your decision making? Did you go to Leicester because Mindera had the office there?

Marco Escaleira (03:49):

Not really. It was mainly a coincidence, a really big coincidence because that’s part of coming to Uni in April because my course even started in April. So it’s even quite weird, not really a normal schedule. And that part was a coincidence because the only few Universities that were having courses starting in April were De Montfort and another one the Coventry but it was not in Coventry, it was a college from Coventry in London. So okay in Leicester, I know that Mindera has an office in Leicester. Why not try to join them together? A perfect match of being in the same town and having both at the same time.

Ben Henley-Smith (04:35):

It’s mad how sometimes those decisions come out like that because you’ve all of a sudden kind of… I guess Brexits pushed you to make that decision and you’re kind of going “Last chance, I want to just make this happen.”

Marco Escaleira (04:46):

Well Brexit didn’t help at all. The whole process of coming here was like an international person coming to the country. So it was really methodologic, loads of steps and quite a process that I don’t really recommend going through unless you are really going towards it and focusing on it because it takes a lot of time, money as well and well especially the patience that you have to go through all of the process and managing everything while you are doing the rest. So I was already studying, having the classes, working full-time and while handling that.

Ben Henley-Smith (05:28):

Sounds like you’ve been through quite a few obstacles to get to this point. There’s always I guess a reason for us to take the hard path and to find what we want to be doing by making tough decisions. I wonder at the heart of it why are you putting yourself through that difficulty of coming to the UK? Going through that process, it being more difficult with Brexit. Then finding the balance between Mindera and your own education? Why are you making those decisions in order to find your best work?

Marco Escaleira (06:04):

The short answer is why not? Why not take the risk? Why not take the chance and go for with it. Mainly two reasons, being 21 which I am 21. Why not try? What will be the worst case scenario? Going back to Portugal? Lose some money? But why not try? And especially the fact of, put yourself in uncomfortable positions is the best thing that we can do. Mainly because that will make us grow, that will teach us experience good or bad but we will learn something from it. And one thing that should be key is imagine that we do something and we fail. At that time we already know one less way or one more way of doing it because we know that way failed so now that is already discarded. So failing doesn’t need to be bad or well that is like yourself.

Marco Escaleira (07:09):

So it’s one way that you know that “Okay, that’s not the one, let’s try me another one.” So mainly because of that. The long answer is when you have objectives and goals towards your life you should go for it independent of how much it takes to get there and that for me was key. So I wanted to study abroad, I couldn’t at the time. Then I kind of quit of that idea. Then suddenly that idea came up and okay “Let’s go with everything.” So also being open to that mindset of suddenly things can change rapidly should be something that we should take onwards because like my example I was not even expecting to come to UK and now here I am independent of how much effort it was, how much paperwork there was. It’s being open to opportunities that may rise at any time.

Ben Henley-Smith (08:09):

Marco, I’m really interested to know what the most meaningful project has been to you over the past year or so?

Marco Escaleira (08:20):

It’s interesting because I don’t have as much experience so I’m only 21 and the only project like real projects I have worked on professionally, it’s the same up until now. So I started when I was 18 years old on that project and I’m on it until now. So I don’t see any project as meaningful, I see that projects have their own value.

Marco Escaleira (08:46):

So independence of what I’m doing or whatever is to be done. The main thing should be that we are appreciating what we are doing in our daily basis. So for me, imagine I’m working to this project as long as we are fulfilling the requirements and the goals and as a team we are all happy and towards it. That’s what we’ll say what will be more meaningful and invaluable and at the same time when we achieve those goals we need to celebrate as well because we have made it and as a team as always because we can work alone but it’s not the same when we are working with other humans so.

Ben Henley-Smith (09:29):

So you make the move over here, there are lots of different things that you’ll learn. There’s that balance between work and with Uni and I wonder what situation you find yourself in now? So have you started to look beyond the goal of being here and being front engineer here? Have you started to think about what do I want to do next? And how has that evolved?

Marco Escaleira (09:56):

Yeah. Well the experience when you arrive in a new country and everything is new for you, literally every single thing is that. Okay you will enjoy some stuff, you will not enjoy others and you will like more this or not like this as much and obviously I quite compare a bit with my native country Portugal and I would say that’s normal even though comparing is not always great and we should try to avoid it.

Marco Escaleira (10:27):

I guess the lesson that I start to build up and even to think to myself is “Well there is no limit.” And if I’m now here at least for three years to make the degree and that’s my main goal being in the UK but I don’t want to close any doors for the future. Mainly that because in three years it’s too much time, many things can change and independent of the country and or the conditions is why not in the end of three years go to another country and have different life experience in another country? Or why not settle in for a few years and then move? Or why not going back to Portugal and continue my career?

Marco Escaleira (11:15):

I will say that main idea is not close doors to the future and in my position my goal now is three years that I’m doing in the University. When I start getting more closer, “Okay let’s try to analyze what we’ll do further.” But it’s more that mindset of focusing on the present right now and not as really in the future because well many things can change up until there so.

Ben Henley-Smith (11:41):

What advice would you give someone who is currently looking for work? What advice would you give that person to help them make sure that the environment that they joined was going to be aligned with their own ambition?

Marco Escaleira (11:57):

Great question. I would say firstly to meet and get to know the people that are on the other side. Mainly because we are all not the same. So for start meeting them and understand how they work. And if there is availability to push more things forward or “Okay let’s do this or try this or try that.” Just try to ask. Might be done, might not be done but at least you ask. So main thing is and this goes along to other reasons, all of us have a voice and don’t be afraid to ask or to propose new things really don’t because out of nowhere it can be a good idea or good improvements or better things to do. So just don’t be afraid of talking and especially meet the person that is on the other side so that makes everything easier.

Ben Henley-Smith (12:59):

What kind of questions would you ask to get under the hood of what that person was building or what they were working on? Do you think?

Marco Escaleira (13:09):

Independent if you know more or less what is going to be done or independent of how much knowledge you have. Ask why, if you are uncertainty, doubt it, ask why and let’s review it because you should only content yourself when you really know what you are going to do. So imagine you’re assessing a feature but you are not sure, don’t be afraid to ask, don’t be afraid to question things, anything. This really goes to the fact that we need to know let’s say what we are doing or what we will be doing but understand it, not just accept and “Okay fine then I will go back and learn it.” If you have the chance to ask, why not ask. So ideally that should be the thing that we should aim for because then ideas might arise and obviously like we talk about, it might be good or bad but it’s an idea, it’s there.

Ben Henley-Smith (14:11):

And as a front end developer what questions would you ask that would perhaps be different to questions that say a backend developer might ask? What questions would you specifically want to understand when you were trying to assess a company or a project that you wanted to work on next?

Marco Escaleira (14:29):

As a front end it’s really nice when you have the design team nearby or even the backend team nearby. Is it outside company? Is it a foreign team that will access and communication that is not as fluid? Because those kind of things make it a really big difference on our daily basis of work. Understand what is the connection between the different kind of roles of the project? And this goes through the communication parts that really helps on daily basis.

Marco Escaleira (15:01):

Also maybe another one will be to if we have as a front end we might have preferences of certain products. Is the product what we want to maybe be developing? So I will understand what are maybe other projects within the company? Because we may like that company but the project doesn’t seem as tasteful or appealing but maybe there is other projects that might start in upcoming months and then why not see what is availability to even shift within the company. So to understand in terms of future, how can we experience new projects and also people? So that will be the questions I will ask as a front end. So not really specific to front end more towards what we want to be doing and how we are want to be doing.

Ben Henley-Smith (16:03):

Would there be any specific front end ones?

Marco Escaleira (16:06):

It’s nice when we approach a company to work for already has technology that we already know, makes things easier and obviously it’s a totally different process but also is there any technologies that you are foreseeing for the future and for different projects? And even maybe to try new roads ahead. So try a new project is coming with Vue and I’m React so what is availability maybe in the future? So understand in terms of technology wise what might be different towards the future.

Ben Henley-Smith (16:42):

Love it. I think that makes a load of sense. Is there anything else you think you’d like to add Marco to what it means to finding your best work?

Marco Escaleira (16:53):

Keep an eye open but be open to any kind of opportunities as there might be things that right now I might not like but who knows in the future months I might enjoy and why not just try that or that project. So be open to anything that might arise and keep an eye on things and try just go for it. And I might say this because it might be easier for me because I don’t have any responsibilities, kids, house but at the same time there are plenty of examples of people that also did suddenly change into a new country and working in a different division of work area right. I will say that’s the best thing we can ever do and putting ourselves in an uncomfortable positions we will learn a lot from it.

Ben Henley-Smith (17:45):

Marco, I think you’ve got an incredible story and having made the decisions that you have I’m so pleased that you’ve ended up in the place that you wanted to.

Marco Escaleira (17:55):

Thank you so much.

Ben Henley-Smith (17:57):

I thank you so much for sharing all of that [crosstalk 00:18:06] it’s so helpful.



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