Life after moving to Canada How Luan got hired in Vancouver as a Senior Software Engineer

Ilya Brotzky: Hello and welcome to the VanHack Podcast. I’m Ilya. I’m super excited today to be joined by Luan, who is a Senior Developer who was hired about one year ago, and is now living in Vancouver, Canada for the last year and a bit. He’s going to share his story and tell you what he did so you can do the same. Welcome, Luan, to the podcast, and congratulations for being a successful VanHacker.

Luan: Hi, Ilya. Thanks for inviting me to this, yes.

Ilya Brotzky: Yeah, my pleasure. And just a little bit of context for everyone. The reason why Luan is on this podcast is that I was walking with my wife on the streets and he was walking with his wife on the streets and we saw each other after one year because we had met each other before. But it’s been one year that we met and I was like, “Hey, Luan, you want to be on the podcast?” And he said, “Sure.” So here we are. Pretty cool. So Luan, let’s get into it. Where are you from? What’s your technical background, or your professional background? A little bit more about yourself.

Luan: Yeah, sure. So I’m from Brazil, more specifically from Recife, in the north-east of Brazil. My background is software development. So I work for a company that does some consulting, also. So I would say my whole experience is very mixed between back end technologies, and also front end technologies. So I have kind of knowledge about both of the things. But today I work mostly with the front end.

Ilya Brotzky: Cool.

Luan: Yeah.

Ilya Brotzky: Awesome. And what made you want to relocate? How long have you been planning on this move? Bring me back to when this idea came to your mind.

Luan: Yeah, sure. So at least two years, or even more, before coming to Canada, because I had the opportunity to participate in the Leap event from VanHack. That was great for me. But even before that, I remember there was a, how do you call that, hackathon? That happened, I think maybe it was 2014 or something like that. I actually participated in that.

Ilya Brotzky: In the first one.

Luan: In the first one. I was already there. But I decided not to apply during that moment because it just had maybe one year or maybe two of experience. And I thought I wasn’t ready enough. But since then I was just having more experience in my previous company. And there I had some good opportunities to travel to different countries like US and also I went to Italy, but I was always thinking about this idea of moving to Canada. Because based on my research, it seems to be a very good place to live. And now I can actually say for sure, because I really like to be here and also my wife. So I’ve been planning for some time, just looking from time to time looking at the posts from VanHack, looking at the videos that you post also on YouTube. So every time I was just looking and watching those videos from time to time just learning more.

Ilya Brotzky: People are going to be watching your video on YouTube.

Luan: Yeah, It’s nice. It’s a pleasure.

Ilya Brotzky: This is going to go on the YouTube channel as well as the podcast. So congratulations.

Luan: Thank you.

Ilya Brotzky: Yeah, it’s cool. Full circle. Cool. Well, so that’s nice. So you joined and then you kind of weren’t ready. You prepared yourself and then you just mentioned something, you mentioned the VanHack Leap event. Let’s talk about that. Let’s say 2019 or 2018, you were ready to go. What made you say, “Okay, this is my time”. And then what made you apply to leave? Maybe explain what it was for everyone.

Luan: I think it was a mix of things. Like I just mentioned now, in the first hackathon, I wasn’t feeling prepared. So after some time I was feeling like my English was a lot improved and also my skills, like technical skills, then everything else. So I was feeling like maybe now it would be a good opportunity and was even considering more to go to Canada. Like mostly because based on also the situation in Brazil. So it was the combination of factors. And to me, I do say this to my friends, but it’s the best opportunity that someone can have with the Leap events, to be honest.

Luan: In my case, I got the opportunity to travel to Canada and meet some companies that were kind of pre-selected. So I got the information about the companies. We had training sessions also to understand the kind of questions and things that they are more interested. Other than that, that is also additional thing, that for me, was even a bonus. Like, I got some payments to cover the costs that I was here in Canada during this one week that I stayed.

Ilya Brotzky: Yeah. I think it’s important because of COVID right now, like the Leap program is on hold just for everyone to understand, and we don’t have them, but this happened what time? It was sometime in 2018 or 2019, right?

Luan: Yeah. I think it was 2019.

Ilya Brotzky: Yeah. Beginning of 2019 February, sometime like that. Okay. Just for everyone to understand the context. Because I don’t want people listening to this and be like, “How did he go to Canada?”. It was one and a half years ago. So. Okay, great. Then you came here for a week, you met some companies and then did you get any interviews and how was the process with the companies?

Luan: Yeah, so I had several interviews. It actually started while I was still in Brazil, which was good because I did all the interviews, like most of the interviews there. So when I came here, I had the opportunity to practice with other people also that were also in the same event, participating, trying to find good opportunities to live in Canada. And then I pretty much just had to do the final process with the companies when I actually met the people in the company and then it was just a final round. So to me, it was very nice because I got two offers from different companies. I was also able to negotiate the salary, which was very good.

Ilya Brotzky: Hold on. Let’s not skip over this part. It’s important. You got two offers.

Luan: Yeah.

Ilya Brotzky: That’s awesome.

Luan: Yeah. That was good.

Ilya Brotzky: How did you feel when you got the first one and how did you feel when you got the second one?

Luan: Oh, the first one I was like, feeling, how can I say, very anxious because you come to the country, so you travel from Brazil, come here, you do a lot of sessions, you do training, a bunch of things.

Ilya Brotzky: Yeah, a big investment.

Luan: Yeah. Also, the presentation that we have to do in the very beginning, the first day to all the recruiters. So there’s a bunch of things that you have to prepare and then you do the interview and then no one answers anything until the last day and you feel like, “Okay, it wasn’t so good as I thought”. But then suddenly, I think it was when I came back to Brazil that I just got this thing. I got one offer and then I got the other offer.

Ilya Brotzky: On the same day or two days, one after the other, two days, three days?

Luan: I think it was probably the same day or very, very close, like in the day after.

Ilya Brotzky: It was like, boom, boom, two offers.

Luan: Yeah. It was boom, boom.

Ilya Brotzky: Nice. And then you can negotiate the salary. You get a little bit better salary. Awesome.

Luan: Yeah.

Ilya Brotzky: And then you decided to work at this specific company you’re at now. Did you start working with them remotely or how was the relocation process?

Luan: No, I actually started working with them here already in Vancouver. So the process took a bit long because it was more specific I think to this company because they didn’t hire anyone from abroad before. So I was actually the first one. And it took a bit longer, the process, because they didn’t know how to do the whole thing. But now I think they’re much prepared. Meanwhile, I was still working with my previous employer. And yeah, pretty much, I had to wait one more month after I left my previous job and then I got my visa. It doesn’t take long, especially if the company that give you the offer, if they know the process, it should be very fast.

Ilya Brotzky: Nice. Nice. Okay, cool. So you moved here like June 2019, nice sunny time. How was the first few months, the adjustment, cultural shock? Anything that was better than you expected, worse than you expected? How was the real experience?

Luan: So for me, I think it was probably easier than maybe other people. I would say that just because I do have some friends who live here, so it makes things way more easy, right?

Ilya Brotzky: So, they’re here with you to set up your furniture.

Luan: Yeah. So actually by the way, I’m living in the same building as they are now, so it’s even better. But yeah, having friends here, even when I came the first time to actually participate in the event that one week, they were the ones who actually allowed me to stay with them in there.

Ilya Brotzky: Oh, that’s nice.

Luan: Yeah. So it was very good. And also I had some time to just explore the city. And the people that I met, the events, they are my friends now. So I still talk to them. One of them came to my house.

Ilya Brotzky: Oh really. Who?

Luan: Yeah. So all those things. That’s why I think it was easy. So also the weather was very good at the moment because it was summer. And then I have to face the winter, which I kind of expect it to be like that because I traveled before and I lived for one year in Italy before. It’s actually very similar where I lived there. So it’s not bad. I mean, to me, it’s fine. I would hope that the summer would last longer. But yeah. That’s life. You can’t have everything, right?

Ilya Brotzky: Yeah. Yeah. Who were the friends? I’m sorry, I’m curious, like the people from Leap like…

Luan: No, no. Sorry. You mean the ones from Leap?

Ilya Brotzky: Yeah. You said you’re still in touch with people who were on the Leap trip with you.

Luan: One of them is called Bruno and the other one’s Diego. They were both there with me.

Ilya Brotzky: That’s awesome. That’s so cool. Cool. So let’s talk about work. Like, are you enjoying your job? Are you growing professionally? How’s all that going?

Luan: Yeah. It’s going very well I would say. Like, there is a difference between my previous job and this company, because this company is, I think still categorized as a start up. So things move very fast compared to how I worked before, even though the other company was very like techie, I would say. They actually are a good reference in terms of technologies and these practices, Agile and these kind of things. But it still wasn’t as fast as here. So, I had to adapt a little bit. Like I had to spend my own time learning about the things in the company and the whole application architecture, this whole thing. And also there is some lack of the commendation, all those things. But I think it’s just the nature of the company.

Luan: We are growing together and we were just learning and we’re doing more of this now. So more people that comes now, hopefully if we get some from VanHack now they will probably have a much better onboarding so they can probably learn things faster. But it’s been like this. I actually got the opportunity to change because I was hired as a senior software engineer. Now I’m one of their team leads. And that’s why I’m also very involved with interviews, like interviewing people from here and also from VanHack. I think it’s maybe the second time that I’m doing that now, so I’m in the other side now. It’s interesting. Yeah.

Ilya Brotzky: That’s really cool. So you’re a VanHacker who is interviewing other VanHackers?

Luan: Yes.

Ilya Brotzky: Maybe someone watching this YouTube video will one day get an interview with you and they’ll say, “Oh, you know, I saw you on the podcast on YouTube”.

Luan: That would be funny.

Ilya Brotzky: If you are watching this and you get an interview with Luan, make sure to do that. We’ll give you bonus points and maybe it’ll make a difference to get an offer. No, it’s all about the skills and the cultural fit. But how is it now you’re on the other side of the table, you’re interviewing people, that must be pretty cool?

Luan: Yeah. I actually had a very good opportunity at my previous job, because one of the expectations for everyone when you grow in the company, you have to do interviews. So I kind of learned that even before. And then when I went to Italy, I also had to learn how to do interviews in English, which is another thing. So now I feel way more prepared. And I think it’s just going well in general for the company itself. They didn’t have a format for the interviews, but we are doing these meetings to organize it better now we are standardizing everything. So yeah, I think, it’s been good experience.

Ilya Brotzky: That’s cool. Okay. Well last question. What tip do you have for other VanHackers who are watching this video or listening to this podcast thinking, “Boy, I want to be like Luan”. What would you say to them?

Luan: Hmm. Okay. That’s a good question. First thing I would say for sure is the English. In my case, as I mentioned, I had the opportunity to learn a lot in this company. Also, I traveled to another country so that for sure helped me. But other than that, I think you guys have a kind of a virtual conference that I was invited also. So I also shared some ideas there. To me, I would say, don’t feel like… It’s hard to say this, but don’t feel too anxious, like in the interview because these people also need you. So try to think about like, if you worry, their side. So now that I interview people, I do see that. So whenever we do the interviews, I think about myself. If I was in the other way, like probably very anxious and like, “Okay, I would like to get this job,” but at the same time, on the other side we’re very… What’s a better word to describe that?

Ilya Brotzky: Motivated.

Luan: Yeah. Motivated to hire someone. So I am just very excited asking questions and just thinking like, “Oh, okay, this person is very good. I would like to hire him”. So if you make sure that you’re feeling comfortable with the interview and just sharing your own experience. Like try not to rush too much in giving the answers. Try and just explain things in a way that makes sense. And also that provides a good example of impact that you provided, whatever you did before. That’s actually something that I also done with the VanHack. So if you can show, like what was the challenge, what was the result? Then the things that you did, this kind of thing is very nice to talk in this way.

Luan: And make the communication very clear so we can understand very accurately what is your experience. So I would say most of the people that was with me in the Leap event, they did have lots of experience. And I don’t know if some of them didn’t get an offer, but I would say it might have been because of the communication, the way they explained, not because of their skills I would say.

Ilya Brotzky: It’s a really good tip. And yeah, for those of you who need help with your English communication, check out VanHack Premium. But also we have a lot of kind of free stuff too. So yeah, that’s some good tips, Luan. Listen Luan, thank you so much for sharing your experience. For everyone listening here, please make sure to subscribe on iTunes, Spotify, all those places. And if you’re watching on YouTube, subscribe to the channel. Sign up to It’s free. You get access to hundreds of jobs and maybe one day you’ll have a job interview with Luan and work on his team.

Luan: Yeah. Cool. Thanks for inviting me again, Ilya. Yeah, it was good talking to you.

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