women.code(be) Member Spotlight #2

Ksenia Karelskaya - womendotcodbe member spotlight #2

Ksenia Karelskaya

Front End Web Developer

NG-BE core team member

A new month and a new interviewee! Meet Ksenia, a front-end developer at Euricom and she also happens to be part of the NG-BE conference core team!

When she’s not working you can probably find her hanging out with her two pet guinea pigs or reading comic books like “Persepolis” by Marjane Satrapi, watching tv-shows such as Brooklyn Nine-Nine and playing FFXIV online.

Can you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about yourself and your background?

10 years ago, I moved to Belgium from Russia to study again, learned Dutch and got my bachelor degree at KdG. I already had a degree in Cultural Studies and did  research about image representation of extreme youth subculture in alternative, printed and audio-visual media. I was interested in the internet and all things related to it.

That’s how I got into coding and web development. During my last year of the MCT-program at KdG, I did an internship at Design is Dead and afterwards I got a  student job out of it. After graduating MCT, I got a job at Euricom and this where I have been working since.

What is your job and what does a typical workday look like for you?

I’m a consultant, so it depends on the project. Mostly I wake up around 8 and have breakfast with my partner. Then, I bike to work, while listening to music or podcasts. At work I check my emails and pull requests. Then I check Jira and plan what I’m going to be working on today.

After that – coding time! Sometimes there are meetings in between or I have to check some technical/functional details with my colleagues, but mostly I can be in the zone and write some code.

How did you decide on studying MCT at KdG?

At first I wanted to do Communication and Journalism. It turned out that next to speaking Dutch, you also had to be fluent in French, which I’m still not very good at.

That’s why I started looking into more technical bachelors and went to an info-day for Devine in Kortrijk and to an info-day for MCT in Antwerp. In the end I chose MCT . I lived in Antwerp for a year and already made some friends there, plus it was also easier than having to understand the local dialect in Kortrijk 😅

Looking back, I have no regrets, it was very hands-on and some of my teachers are still an inspiration to me.

So, you’re also a part of the NG-BE team? Tell us a bit more about that.

I saw their call for volunteers 5 years ago when I just started working. It looked very interesting, so I applied and then forgot about it. A few months later I got an email that I was accepted to the team! Since then they are my second family ❤️.

Are there other initiatives or communities you’re part off?

I gave two talks at women.code(be) meetups and that’s probably it. It is very time consuming to be involved with community work, so I think being part of the conference team and an active member of woman.code(be) is a lot already.

What made you join the women.code(be) meetups?

I find the community very supportive and being part of a women-focused community gives me a feeling of safety. It is also a place where I meet new people who have similar experiences.

What motivated you to start doing community work?

When I just started out, there were no female groups to join and I was in a class of 30 people with only 2 other girls. I felt lonely and that I didn’t belong in the tech world. So I actually do all community work because I don’t want any woman feel left out or that she doesn’t belong. I do not write articles or give workshops, the only thing I do is just putting myself out there. Hopefully with this kind of visibility I can help someone to not feel alone.

A while back you mentioned being interested in organising a NG-girls workshop, any news on that?

We literally just had a meeting this week with the NG-girls team. At NG-BE we are really excited about this opportunity and we are working hard to make it happen during our 5th edition. ✨

What do you do in your spare time?

I used to do horse riding, but I stopped last summer due to little time and low energy. Since January, I started doing beginners yoga – and I really like it so far!

I also like reading and comic books, and sometimes I play video games. I have two guinea pigs – Pepper and Vlinder and when I’m reading I take them out of the cage to hang out with me.

Ksenia's pet guinea pigs: Vlinder & Pepper
Pepper & Vlinder, Ksenia’s pet guinea pigs

Are there any particular women in tech who have inspired you?

Carmen Popovicu, she has such a big heart! We are both part of the NG-BE core team. I also meet a lot of ladies during the conference, and I think they are all just wonderful human beings.

Do you have any favourite resources or projects you like to follow?

I like Rachel Andrew’s newsletter – CSS layout news, also reading the ng-newsletter on Angular and JavaScript weekly. There was a time I used to listen to podcasts, but it’s difficult (and somewhat dangerous) to concentrate on words when I’m riding my bike through the city.

What keeps you going in code? (question from Veerle)

I like solving problems, and I like being part of the team. Working with someone who has your back, where your talents and skills are valued, and your decisions are trusted, that’s a very fulfilling experience that keeps me going.

How could the tech industry be more inclusive for women and minorities?

That’s a tough question. I think change has to start with the leaders of the industry. Fighting against everyday sexism or any other kind of discrimination, can be quite exhausting and consuming. As long as people are unaware of their own biases – it’s like fighting your own shadow.

If you look back on when you first started out. What advice would you give yourself?

You are doing great. Take time to rest and recharge, don’t push too hard.

By Claudia

I was never good at writing bio's, but here goes:
Avid (board) gamer, always wondering if someone got the number of that donkey cart? On a more serious note: Community founder and Chief of Sprinkles here at women.code(be), often planning our next move. May or may not have experience in front-end development, UX design and product management...