VanHack Success Case – How Irla got hired and relocated to Toronto


Ilya Brotzky: Hello everyone, and welcome to another VanHack Podcast Success Case interview. I’m Ilya, and today I’m extremely excited to be interviewing and joined with Irla, [00:00:0, who got hired as a developer in Toronto in the last few months, or about a year ago now. She’s been living in Toronto and enjoying her life there, so let’s hear all about it. Irla, welcome to the podcast.

Irla Svendsen: Hello Ilya. How are you?

Ilya Brotzky: I’m good. How are you doing? How’s your Friday afternoon?

Irla Svendsen: Things are nice. Weather is good. Everything is good here.

Ilya Brotzky: Cool. Summer in Canada is nice. Awesome. Let’s talk about, quickly, who are you, what’s your background professionally. Tell me about your professional experience everyone knows. What are your experiences?

Irla Svendsen: Okay. I’m a software developer. I’ve been working with Java for eight years. I was focused more on backend and developing for big companies in Brazil of banks and stuff like FinTech. Now I’m working with JavaScript, so a little bit different, but still more focused on backend.

Ilya Brotzky: Cool. So, Node and TypeScript?

Irla Svendsen: Yes. No, not TypeScript. Just Node.


“I’m a software developer. I’ve been working with Java for eight years”


Ilya Brotzky: Cool. Sweet. It’s always interesting, the different tech stacks people are using, companies are using. Okay. What made you have this idea to move abroad? Where did this come from? How long have you been trying to get this all?

Irla Svendsen: Oh, it’s a really interesting story. It started in 2012. We got this talk from the province of Quebec. They talk about immigration and how we could go and everything, so we got really hyped. It really interested me and my husband, and then we talked, and then we decided, let’s immigrate, let’s go to Quebec, let’s do this. We start studying French and doing all that thing, and I got pregnant. Everything that happened, and then we were like, okay, pause. We’ll have the baby and then we’ll get her vaccines and then we started again, because I was all freaked out, vaccines and stuff. Then, life happened, she was getting bigger, and then when she was four, we decided to go abroad and do an associate’s degree. My husband went to do his associate’s degree in software development. We went to Utah because of that.

Irla Svendsen: Just giving a little bit context. In 2017, I was doing the planning, got the student visa to go to US. I was talking to a friend and he told me about VanHack. He was like, “Oh, there’s this company that I’m applying for and everything.” I was like, “Oh, interesting,” but I already have this whole plan already set to go and visa and everything. I’m like, “Okay, that’s really nice. I’ll just write it down.” I wrote it down and was like, I will look into this later, but I really had that mindset.

Irla Svendsen: Then, we went to US and I started to learn a little bit more about… I was mainly focused on Java and backend, so I was not used to the web world where we do other stuff and API calls and all those, and frameworks like React to view. I was not in tune with those technologies, so I started doing a nano degree and started to learn this new stuff.

Irla Svendsen: After that, in ’19, my husband was going to finish in December his associate’s degree. Mid-July, I think, we talked about what was going to be the plan because he would be able to work for a year and then we had to have a plan, what to do. He said, “You know what? We should try VanHack.” I’m like, “Yeah, okay. Let’s do that.” I subscribed and I did the code verification and the English test. I think 10 days before that, I was invited for the Leap event. It was so fast. I would never imagine. We were like, okay, I’m going to do this now in 2019 and mid-July, and maybe in 2021 after he got some experience on the software development area, and then we’d be ready to try and get interviews, and then it was already in the Leap event, doing interviews. I’m going a little ahead of the story, but it was basically something that we always wanted, Canada. I just regret not doing before, when I found out in 2017. It would be really different, that whole story.

Ilya Brotzky: Yeah. Well, you’re here now and that’s all that matters. It worked out at the end. Cool. How was the process? I guess you already answered this question, but I was going to ask how the process was before back VanHack. You answered that, and how you found VanHack, you answered as well. How about we go to this? How did VanHack help you? You said 10 days after you joined, you were invited to Leap events. Maybe we can talk about what the Leap event was and how that experience was.

Irla Svendsen: Okay. The Leap event was magical. It was super interesting. I couldn’t imagine that something like that would happen. It was really good. It started after I did the verification and the test code. They sent me an email that I could subscribe. I subscribed, I got an interview, I think with [Andressa 00:05:39], and then she did this interview and I was selected to participate.

Irla Svendsen: After that, we started a series of interview mock tests, the courses, and one-on-ones, and a lot of material that I went through the website and got some interview for Java questions that usually they do for doing code tests and all of those materials. I went through a lot of stuff, a lot of materials, and then we got the list of the companies that would join the Leap event, and we started to study those companies, study their cultures, doing our curriculum to match the software jobs description, reviews of our curriculum that VanHack does, and review of our LinkedIn. Everything was happening and all of that. We already got some interviews going on, real interviews with those companies. I did an interview, I did a code test, I did another code test. It was a lot happening, and that was, I think, in mid-August. Yeah, I think it started in mid-August, and the Leap event was in September. I think mid-September as well. So, it was one month of really intensive prep, a lot of things, a lot of studying.

Ilya Brotzky: Right. Preparing yourself. Yeah.

Irla Svendsen: Yeah. There’re not a lot of places that you can go and you have a one-on-one with somebody that is an expert on interview. I think that was a differential, learning. For me, it was super, super good.

Ilya Brotzky: How much did it cost?

Irla Svendsen: Just a subscription. I can’t even remember.

Ilya Brotzky: It was actually free.

Irla Svendsen: No, it was free, and I still got 500 back from what was invested, but I got a discount on subscribing if I wanted to.

Ilya Brotzky: Oh, okay. You also joined premium.

Irla Svendsen: Yeah. I also joined premium. If I wanted to. I think some girls didn’t, but I think it’s super worth it, so I did subscribe. I still kept it for a while after that.

Ilya Brotzky: Right. Okay, well, thank you for that. . Cool. Just for everyone’s context, because some people who are probably watching are like, wait, leave? Traveling to different places? We can’t really do that right now. This is something we were doing before COVID, of course, and we would take top candidates in VanHack, top VanHackers who wanted to move to a specific city like Toronto in Irla’s case, or maybe Munich or Montreal, different cities. We would have them come to the city for one week and have an in-person interview experience with the preparation that Irla mentioned beforehand. We’re not doing that right now. Maybe if you’re watching this in 2021 or something in the future and people are able to travel again across borders without some special permission, then hopefully there’ll be Leap events again. Just a context for everyone.

Ilya Brotzky: Let’s talk about the interview that you actually got the job offer at. How was that process? You arrived in Toronto, you had an interview with this company that you’re working at now. Tell us about that.

Irla Svendsen: Yeah. First started with the interview when I was still in Utah, and then we went to interview there, if I’m not mistaken, because it was so many interviews. I’m like, did I get this right? It was super simple. They are really interested in the culture. They want to know if you are interested in their culture, the way they move things, the size of their team, and everything. Some of the interviews had the code tests. This didn’t, but they do look up your code on the internet. They look at your GitHub and your stuff. I don’t know, but maybe they do look on VanHack site, the code test verification probably. It was super simple. I really hit it off with the interviewers. They were [inaudible 00:09:57] and we had lots in common, lots to talk about. It was a really, really good interview. I really liked it.

Ilya Brotzky: Awesome. How did you feel when you got the offer?

Irla Svendsen: It was surreal. I was really, really happy. I got my phone in the morning and I saw the offer there and I was like, no. Then I saw it again. When you open and you’re zooming in to see if it’s really real. I called my husband and I almost cried, if I did.

Ilya Brotzky: It’s okay. You can admit it now. You got the job. A little tear of some nice happiness. Cry tears of joy. That’s awesome. How about the relocation process? You were living in the US, you were able to move to Toronto. How did that all work? Did you have to go back to Brazil? What was the process there?

Irla Svendsen: People think that because I was in US, it was a different process from Brazil. Just have one little difference that we didn’t have to do the medical exams. That was the only thing that we were like waived from. The whole process was the same thing, so all the documentation, all of the forms, all same thing. The difference, I would say, because I have a little girl, a two year old, that she was born in US, so she didn’t have to have a visa. She didn’t have to do nothing. Just get the passport and yeah.

” subscribe to premium VanHack. I should have done that in 2017. If you’re listening to this and you’re like, “Hmm, should I? Shouldn’t?” If you want to go work abroad and do this, subscribe”

Ilya Brotzky: It’s so funny, where you came out of the womb in the world determines your nationality, determines where you can travel, what documents you need.

Irla Svendsen: Yes. It’s interesting.

Ilya Brotzky: Cool. Anyways, how about now? How long have you been in Canada? How’s life now? Are you enjoying yourself? How’s your family?

Irla Svendsen: We came here in January, so before COVID and everything, so super good. They told us it was a mild winter, so lucky us. It was okay. Utah, we got some snow, but it wasn’t as much as here. You don’t feel your face and your legs. It was really, really cold. But after you get the gear, after you have the right things to wear, everything is okay. Now the kids are good. My oldest started studying in a public school near our house. We have the bus that takes her and comes. She already has friends here on the condo. It’s a good place to raise your family and have everyone here. Everybody’s super nice. We have a lot of peoples of different backgrounds. She has friends from, I think, all over the world. It’s just like my team at work as well. It’s really good to meet other types of cultures and other people. I think it’s really, really interesting. It’s something that I really like to do.

Ilya Brotzky: That’s awesome. I think Toronto is the most international or multicultural city in the world. Over half the people in that city are born outside of Toronto or outside of Canada. That’s pretty awesome. I agree. When you have different cultural backgrounds, it makes things better, for sure. Okay. Well, last question is, how about your tips and advice for other VanHackers who are watching this video saying, “Damn, I want to be in her shoes and get hired as well. What can I do?”

Irla Svendsen: I think first of all, subscribe to VanHack. I should have done that in 2017. If you’re listening to this and you’re like, “Hmm, should I? Shouldn’t?” If you want to go work abroad and do this, subscribe. See what’s going to happen. Participate in seminars, having those one-on-ones, and doing those Zoom calls that have the teacher that will teach you stuff. It’s something that usually just reading a book won’t give you. I think it’s really important to do that. When you’re with other people, you have this interaction that you usually don’t have in English. That’s really a plus. There’s a lot of other materials that’s in the website, so you already can dig into that, dig into interview codes and everything. That will help out because they do a lot of code tests. You have to practice. You get knowledge doing practices.

Irla Svendsen: I think the last thing that I would say, believe in yourself. You can do this. Sometimes, we don’t believe that we can. It’s something that I didn’t have, the feeling that I could get there. I think we can all do it if we want to. If we set our mind and focus on an objective, we can do it. Believe in yourself. It will work.

Ilya Brotzky: Definitely. Yeah. That’s sometimes just half the battle. I think there’s a quote. Someone said that if you believe you can, then you’re halfway there, or something like that. Or if you believe you can, or you believe you can’t, either way you’re right. Some famous person said that once, and I think it’s really true. Yeah. In terms of signing up to Vanhack, for sure. Come on, guys, it’s free. What do you have to lose? Log into LinkedIn. It takes 10 seconds. Come on.

Irla Svendsen: You can just test your English and see how well you’re doing, and you can test out others, do the code verification. You test out how well you are doing. Sometimes, that helps you to get your confidence up and see that you’re doing great. You can do this. I had a friend these days that subscribed after seeing some merch on my Instagram, and then he got a 92% out of 100. I was like, “Whoa. That was really good.” He was really proud of himself.

Ilya Brotzky: Yeah. That’s true. You don’t know how good you are. Actually, that’s a good point about the English test. You can take the English test and then you’ll get a score. It’s basically a free evaluation of your English level. It takes 15, 20 minutes. That’s actually a really good point, so cool. Thanks, Irla. I appreciate you sharing that. Thanks so much for being here with us and recording this interview. If you’re watching this on YouTube, please subscribe to the YouTube channel for many more videos like this, check out a playlist where we have tons of success cases and people sharing knowledge about how they got hired and other experts as well. If you’re listening to this on your podcast, please subscribe on the podcast too, and share with your friends. Cool.

Ilya Brotzky: That’s my little promotion. Thanks Irla. I’m sure many people will really enjoy this podcast episode. Congratulations again on your success, and I hope to see you when I’m back in Toronto one day.

Irla Svendsen: Thank you very much for being here. I’m really, really happy to be part of this community. Thank you very much.

Ilya Brotzky: My pleasure. Awesome. Okay.

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