Interview with a Superhero: Meet Practicum grad, Margarita “Rita” Sandomirskaya
When you look up “superhero” in the dictionary, don’t be surprised if you see a picture of Rita Sandomirskaya (trust us, it’s there). Not too long ago, the full-time mother with an extensive background in philosophy found herself in a sticky situation. Staying in Israel on her husband’s work visa, Rita worked as a part-time remote Recruiting Assistant at a large IT company. Landing a legit local job seemed nearly impossible!
On top of that, it was clear her part-time gig wasn’t getting her anywhere. Her tasks were repetitive and boring, and even with a strong passion for HR and IT, Rita felt like she’d hit a dead end. She yearned for more of a challenge but wasn’t sure how to go about it. How can someone fuel their career growth when they’ve got a toddler and zero hard skills?
But Rita had a secret weapon: perseverance. She was certain this could take her career to the next level. And about seven months later, it paid off — she became an IT Recruiter for a well-known, knowledge-based HR agency in Russia!
We spoke to Rita about realizing her dream, all while balancing motherhood and student life.
A Chance Encounter
Rita’s plan was simple: wait until the kid is old enough for daycare, do some online courses in the meantime, and find a fulfilling job as soon as she can work full-time. Among the dozens of courses she came across, Practicum’s free Data Analysis intro course caught her eye. She took the intro course and promptly enrolled in the full program.
By March 2020, Rita got to the middle of the Data Analysis course. Everything was going as planned, and she just had to apply to jobs when the time came. But even our superhuman couldn’t predict what lay ahead.
Soon, Israel went into lockdown (#pandemic). With the daycares closed, full-time work was no longer an option. To Rita, it looked like her dreams were put on hold for the foreseeable future.
But a chance encounter would change things for good. One day, Rita found an email from the Practicum team in her inbox:
“They were recruiting beta-testers for a full Data Analysis program and offered [for] me to join. I could take the full program for free and test it for the next intakes at the same time.”
But she didn’t jump in headfirst. While she was excited at the prospects, she also realized she’d have to make a serious commitment for several months:
“Basically I had to choose between my dull, but stable job and a several month-long program with [an] unpredictable load and outcome. Also, I’d still needed to wrap it around being a mom.”
After discussing the opportunity with her husband, Rita decided that this beta-testing thing was worth a try. Her contribution to the family income was so tiny that her resignation wouldn’t make much difference. The data analysis course, on the other hand, could be the exact thing she needed to jump-start her career.
It Takes a Village
Few moms can afford to spend a full day studying, and even with a supportive husband, Rita wasn’t one of them. However, she was happy to discover that Practicum’s course was flexible enough to meet the demands of motherhood and housework. Split into two-week sprints, it included blocks of reading, coding practice, and webinars. While each individual block could be started and finished at any time, each practical task had a deadline. She couldn’t go ahead without finishing everything behind, and parenting made time even tighter. But Rita was focused on her goal:
“The course literally took all of my free time, seven days a week. I used every available moment, like when my kid was asleep or on a walk with her dad. I was lucky to have huge support from my family, but I was often considering solutions to a task while eating or doing dishes. It wasn’t easy, and it really depends on the age and temperament of your child and how well you organize your time, but Practicum’s course was flexible enough for me to make it work.”
Also helpful? Practice sessions that ended with webinars led by tutors with plenty of practical experience. They helped Rita get the broad context of things she’d poked and prodded on her own:
“Practicum has a fundamental approach which makes it very different from many schools that only offer webinars from no-name experts.”
Support was one of Practicum’s biggest advantages: “The tutors and guidance team were patient with my questions, however small they were. They knew I needed to learn the right approaches instead of correct answers, and they tried to steer my thoughts in the right direction so I could figure them out myself. Everyone was supportive and helpful 24/7 and really did their best to encourage us.”
Mid-course, Rita realized she couldn’t finish a sprint. She communicated this to the Practicum team — “We tried to work this out and find a solution together before they suggested that I should take a month off.”
After a month, Rita was allowed to pick up right where she left off.
Our Superhero Claims Victory
Searching for a job mid-pandemic was a heck of a challenge, but Rita’s perseverance bore fruit. Just a week after graduation, she was recruited for a product interview with Kira Kuzmenko, founder of an IT-focused agency, New.HR. To Rita’s surprise, Kuzmenko offered her a role at her agency on the spot.
“Kira was just looking for people to interview for her project. So we started talking and I told her about these things I learn[ed] at Practicum. She was very impressed by the fact that I was so motivated to develop in HR that I finished an entire course. I certainly wasn’t expecting her to offer me a job at her agency — I hadn’t even started looking for it yet! But I said yes immediately.”
Now, Rita is an IT recruiter on the hunt for product managers. The data analysis course gave her a deep understanding of what kind of work they do. She feels confident and competent when she examines their backgrounds:
“I now understand all the terms they use and know what I should be looking for in a candidate. The groundwork laid by Practicum helps me immensely,” she laughs.
Rita admits that the most important thing she learned at Practicum were soft skills:
“I learn[ed] to manage my time, set and respect boundaries, communicate with others, and solve problems on my own. They taught me what ‘proactive approach’ really means.”
Being the true superhero she is, her journey doesn’t end here. She’s enrolled in other Practicum courses, helping her to reach that number one spot.
“I want to move towards becoming an HR Business Partner, so I’ll need to explore other IT professions first.”