He led a sales team at a company that dealt with (point-of-sale) POS systems. But the pandemic delivered a cruel dose of reality. "It turned out that the only thing companies weren’t willing to skimp on, were programmers," says Adam Szedély. Because he never wanted to end up in such a difficult situation again, he decided to retrain as a programmer at an IT bootcamp. Today, he works as a .NET developer at Smarty.cz.
He's always been drawn to computers. His earliest IT exposure came in elementary school. "I first discovered Baltie during computer science classes back in Zvolen," the Slovakian native says with a laugh. "But my interest faded over time." After high school, he couldn’t decide what to study next. For a time, he devoted himself to marketing in Denmark, followed by medicinal chemistry studies at Charles University in the Czech Republic.
But neither of these fields were a good fit. "I'd been looking for something I’d be able to enjoy for a long time. Back then, I was very keen on journalism and new media, so I tried media studies," Adam reveals. "If I had the chance to make that decision all over again, I’d probably go into a more technical field."
After earning his bachelor's degree, Adam stayed in Prague and threw himself into his work. However, instead of choosing media, he went straight into business. Since he’d worked with craft beer during his studies and had some pub contacts, he decided to explore the sector from the other side. "I joined Storyous, a company that sells gastro software, as a salesperson. The POS system practically sold itself, because it’s one of the best in the Czech Republic," he says. "At work, I focused mainly on key account management, meetings with clients and business development."
But then came COVID-19, which put a huge damper on business and his promising career. "The vast majority of our customers were from the HoReCa sector, e.g., hotels, restaurants, bars, and pubs. The pandemic dealt the entire industry a brutal blow. The restrictions hit businesses hard," he says, describing the unpleasant period. "We did what we could to help restaurateurs in some way. We launched our own delivery app and helped optimize our warehouse management. When everyone in the company realized that this situation could happen again at any time in the future, the decision was made to expand into retail."
Also at that time, Saltpay joined the company as a new investor and decided to integrate the POS system into its portfolio and build a complete ecosystem for both smaller and larger businesses. "The work was still great. I had the opportunity to work with great people and expand my horizons beyond the gastro sector. It’s just that, over time the job just wasn’t doing it for me anymore, and I decided to move on," Adam explains.
As he watched the pandemic restrictions decimate his customers, he noticed something else. "It became clear that one of the things companies definitely didn’t want to skimp on, was programmers. I didn't lose my job, but it was a cruel dose of reality," he confesses. "The pandemic forced me to retrain. It taught me how fragile my job security was, and how prone that work could be to fluctuations. I wanted new work that was secure; a job that had a guaranteed future and one I wouldn't lose overnight."
As it happened, he’d already been toying with the idea of programming. "I decided to go into IT for two reasons. The first was that I’ve always been drawn to the field. The second was the current state of things. I thought, why not take advantage of the opportunity? If not now, then when?” recalls Adam. He goes on to admit that he’d originally had slightly different plans: "I had the idea that I could learn on my own and then, through QA, get a position in development at Storyous. But self-study in the evenings and on weekends, combined with an already demanding job, didn’t appeal very much."
"I went to bootcamp mainly because, at my age, I couldn’t afford to put my career on hold for three years in order to go to university."
Adam realized that if he was going to do better this time, he had to do it differently. "Of all the courses in the Czech Republic, the Green Fox Academy Junior Developer Course seemed to be the most comprehensive. Plus, I had a good reference in the form of a friend who’d done it the previous year," he says. "I went to bootcamp mainly because, at my age, I couldn’t afford to put my career on hold for three years in order to go to university."
His decision was hastened by the approaching starting date of the course. "I got lucky; it started just 2 months later. I also liked the fact that they guaranteed a job placement and that course duration was 4.5 months. I didn’t hesitate and applied immediately. I had an advantage in that, at the time, I could afford to not work for 7 months and fully devote myself to bootcamp in the meantime," he shares. "Even more importantly, when I decide to do something, I prefer to go all out, and the super intensive programming course fulfilled that wish. The course structure really forced me to get up and work every single morning."
Adam completed a super intensive course specializing in the back end. He focused specifically on .NET technology and C#. "Bootcamp was great. I successfully graduated and, less than one month later, started working at Smarty.cz as a developer. The course definitely met all my expectations," he says. At the same time, he advises others to have reasonable expectations. "Green Fox Academy isn’t a substitute for university. Bear in mind that completing the course is just the beginning. If you really want to make a living at programming and move forward, you’ll still have a long way to go after the final exam. For myself, I imagine that in the future I might even supplement my formal education remotely."
Nonetheless, a programming retraining course is definitely enough to kick-start a new career in IT. After graduation, Adam joined Smarty.cz as a .NET developer. "My IT journey is just beginning. I expect that, in the coming years, I’ll still have to further educate myself very intensively. I’d definitely like to deepen my knowledge. There’s still a lot that I don't know," he says. "But I really enjoy my work immensely. I have to really think when I’m programming, and it’s a really great feeling when I solve a problem."
A pleasant work environment also contributes to his feeling of satisfaction. "I’ve been lucky in that respect. The work and company culture at Storyous was great and it’s also great at Smarty.cz. The laid-back environment, good work-life balance, smaller team size and opportunity to further educate myself, just really suit me," says the lover of cycling, swimming and weightlifting. "Starting over again in a junior position is a very interesting experience,” he says with a smile. “But I certainly can't complain."