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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!

Welcome Holberton School Cali!

Our third campus in Colombia, Holberton School Cali will be training the next generation of Colombian software engineers to help drive Colombia’s digital revolution.

If you’re thinking about how you can get a world-class software engineering application, apply now!

Our newest campus is located in Cali, the third- largest city in Colombia with a population of 3.4M and is home to many of Colombia’s top tech companies like Carvajal, Open Software, Delima, Datecsa, Eficacia, Colombina, Tecnoquimicas, Lafrancol, and more. Within Cali, our newest campus will be located at the local Zonamerica, a special Free Zone to encourage the development of global tech services and multinational companies in Colombia. 

Students who attend class at Holberton School Cali will receive the same Silicon Valley-level software engineering education that helped get students employment at companies like Apple, Facebook, Google, Nvidia, and more. And with ourt special curriculum, which is designed to help people become world-class software engineers even without prior coding experience, Holberton will provide more incredible economic opportunities to the population of Cali.

Students who are accepted through our blind application process, which doesn’t test on existing coding knowledge but instead tests the ability to learn, will have the opportunity to join a worldwide cohort with students on three continents. Students at Holberton School Cali will be able to cooperate and learn in parallel with students in San Francisco, New Haven, Bogotáa, Medellíin, and Tunis. Not only will our students learn the fundamentals of programming and the ability to think like an experienced programmer, but they will learn critical international cooperation skills, be able to sharpen their English speaking and writing ability, and the ability to train others who are of a similar skill level. All of these skills will help Holberton students at Cali springboard their career the most well paying job opportunities around.

The Cali campus will feature many of the same great amenities as our other campuses, including collaboration spaces, conference rooms, rest areas, and places to watch content streamed from our other campuses worldwide. The Cali campus, with its location in Zonamerica, will place students in the center of Colombian technological development for the international market.

If you’re currently in Colombia, you’ll want to start your application now. The close date for September 2019 cohort is approaching rapidly, so if you want to be one of the first in Cali to achieve your dream and Define Your Future, start your application today!


To read our press release on our new expansion, please click here.