Holberton > Articles by: Yazmin Giraldo

A breakdancer’s journey to becoming a software engineer

Sergio Rueda is a breakdancer turned software engineer for the machine learning division of Mercado Libre, Latin America’s $50B e-commerce and auction site. Getting there was not easy, he had to balance a heavy workload in Holberton while trying to make extra cash doing translations and whatever he could get together from his dance shows.

Photo: Karen Daza (@dazita_sbc)

Originally from Barranquilla, Colombia, he moved to Bucaramanga to study mechanical engineering but his prospects and initial work experience after graduating had left him disillusioned. Sergio’s passion for breakdancing brought him to Medellín to join a dance crew with his friends. In Medellín, he discovered Holberton School and with it, his second passion: software engineering. 

Sergio decided to go through the admissions process as a challenge to himself and considered it sort of a game, but as he delved deeper into Holberton he decided becoming a software engineer is what he really wanted to do. 

After being admitted and just three months into the program, Sergio had to relocate from Holberton Medellín to Holberton Bogotá so he could live with his family, as he could no longer make ends meet. 

At first, Sergio would get frustrated because he could not finish the projects as fast as some of his peers, but he quickly learned to put his ego aside and developed the most important skill: learning how to learn. Even in the most trying times, he never thought about quitting and realized that no matter what personal challenges he was facing, starting a new programming project for Holberton always brought him happiness. 

I found a lot of support from the staff and my peers, they are now my family”, said Sergio.

Finding a job

Sergio says that being a programmer and a dancer make him very happy, each discipline compliments the other and brings about a balance, dancing helps his programming and programming helps his dancing. 

When Sergio began his job search after finishing foundations, he discovered that it was his soft skills, not just his technical skills, that made him stand out as a candidate. Rejections were common, so he narrowed his search to companies that valued soft skills as much as technical skills, and that is where he found the match with Mercado Libre. 

They were looking for a senior developer, so I told them: Let me solve the technical test, then you could know if we can work together now or in the future”, said. 

After a battery of soft skills and technical skills interviews, Mercado Libre made the offer and despite the fact that the job opening was for a senior candidate, the hiring manager in Mercado Libre told Sergio that they wanted to work with him because they saw his potential. 

Join me in congratulating Sergio on his accomplishments, all the hard work he put into going through the Holberton program and getting the job of his dream. Well done!

Students building apps for Colombia’s top tech companies

As part of their first-year curriculum, Holberton Colombia Cohort 10 students will work on their final projects with Colombia’s top tech companies under the mentorship of their leading CTOs and engineering managers. Participating companies include Colombia’s unicorn Rappi, robot delivery company Kiwi, learning platform Skillshare, IoT platform Ubidots, and remote talent marketplace Torre. Each company is coming to the program with a real-world product request to serve their business needs. Students will build the product or feature on top of each company’s tech stack.

“There are two objectives for the company capstone projects. One is to let leading employers access the best technical talent for their recruiting needs. The second objective is that these multi-week, hands-on projects will give Cohort 10 programmers real-world projects completed for top-tier companies to include in their portfolios,” said Jessica Mercedes, Country Manager of Holberton Colombia.

The projects include developing the following: 

  • Crowdlending for Rappi delivery couriers so that they can finance the purchase of a motorcycle
  • An algorithm to detect the distance of moving objects for Kiwi’s autonomous vehicles while using only one camera 
  • A picture-based class recommendation engine for Skillshare
  • A computer vision solution to maintain COVID-safe distances among factory workers using the Ubidots platform
  • A web service that centralizes job opportunities and applicants across many job boards for Torre.

Students will work for six weeks under the leadership of each company’s technical management and will be expected to deliver on the same level of technical excellency as their full-time employees. Each project will be presented during the demo day taking place on June 19th. The event will be live-streamed on Facebook, so be sure to follow our page to watch!