I’ve been a frontend developer pretty much my whole life, but for a pretty long stretch of my career, I had no employment. The company I was working for pretty much went bust and I was in desperate need for a job. Cue in a life of freelancing.
Anyone who’s worked in the software development industry can detest to two things: getting a job without ‘credits’ so to speak (for instance, a site with solid proof that you actually worked on it) is incredibly tough; and most people looking to outsource their work to external developers are really cheap.
This was made worse by the fact that I couldn’t for the life of me get a job on sites like Freelancer and Upwork because other people just bid too damn fast. Just for kicks, I decided to explore most of these sites in other languages (all the while relying on Google Translate) to see if I could strike Gold – and the heavens smiled down upon me.
Getting the job
Right off the bat, you can see the kind of quandary I had gotten myself into. I couldn’t speak a single word of Russian. If they ever decided they wanted to do a Skype interview, I’d be dead in the water, made worse by the fact that Russian is one of those quirky languages that takes forever to learn and even more time to get used to. It just wasn’t happening.
Anyway, the lady introduced herself as Daria, and if her website photo was anything to go by, she must be one of the prettiest HR managers the world has to offer. The job was to write some backend code (which wasn’t my specialty to be honest) in NodeJS.
Almost immediately, I got called out.
She asked me whether Russian was my first language, and I lied, saying no. My dad grew up in Russia, but my mother was American. Turns out Google Translate wasn’t the savior I thought it was. I was ready to abandon the chat and try my luck elsewhere but she said, in English, “It’s okay. Everyone on the team speaks English well anyway.”
Imagine my relief when she told me I got the job.
Meeting the team and getting the job done
The site itself is a relatively popular one, but I won’t mention it for… reasons. It specializes in getting foreigners and Russian women together, either for short-term dating or marriage. The client gets to choose what they are looking for before they get started with the experience.
Now, while working with the three other Russian coders – Ivan, Mikhal, and Anna – was one of the most fascinating experiences of my life (almost entirely due to how incredibly different their culture is), it was even more interesting to meet the women who wanted to meet our foreign clients instead.
A large portion of my job involved writing these women’s biographies. Since I was the best English speaker there, I was moved back to the frontend and Mikhal was assigned my job. I then worked with another girl – Tasha, who was bilingual – to translate their descriptions of themselves to proper English.
This involved three-way interviews, some of which would happen over Hangouts, and other times, over Skype.
I think the thing that stood out the most to me was how lovely and, often, how young these women were. For whatever reason, a lot of them were comfortable simply wearing lingerie while getting interviewed while others wore clothes so heavy they were practically in the dead of winter out there.
Maybe I’m just a victim of the availability heuristic, but whenever anyone mentions Russian women, my heart just skips a beat. They are literally the most lovely women I’ve seen in my life and if I somehow made enough money, I’d travel there and try my best to win one over. Learning Russian would totally be worth it.