In honor of the Day of Girls in Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), we continue introduce successful Kyrgyz women in the field. In this article, we introduce you to Begimai Amantaeva, who is a software engineer at Microsoft.
Begimai was born and raised in the city of Talas and was educated at a regular high school. Parents suggested her to enter the Kyrgyz-Turkish Lyceum, where girls and boys study separately. But she believed that it is important to learn to communicate with all her peers and continued her studies at a comprehensive school. Begimai was a diligent student and participated in mathematics and Republican Olympiads. In the 11th grade, she was selected for a student exchange program and lived in Ohio, USA for a year.
According to Begimai, this experience had a big impact on her: “When you leave your small town, you understand that the world is so big, and all this time you were living in a small box”.
"I was scared because of the stereotypes about programming"
When Begimai wanted to continue her studies in the United States, her parents were against it. Despite this, Begimai worked hard to gain admission to American universities and received a scholarship but could not convince her parents. She entered the American University of Central Asia and chose to study sociology, because she was afraid of stereotypes about computer programming and girls.
However, after her first university class, Begimai realized that she did not enjoy social sciences because it was abstract, while she wanted something more concrete.
“I am an analytical thinker and like to solve exact problems. If there is input, I wanted to see an output,” Begimai explains.
She decided to explore other subjects and met freshmen programmers. It turned out that they also had no experience I computer programming and it prompted Begimai to try it out with them.
After the first semester, Begimai went to Russia to work as a waitress during the summer. She realized that she did not want to do physical labor even if it was for good pay. This experience inspired her to study harder find intellectual payed jobs.
After Begimai transferred to the software engineering course at her university, the next 3 years of her studies were difficult:
"It seemed as if everyone around knew much more than me."
“I always stayed until the university building closed studying. I felt progress one year later when classmates started asking me for help with their homework. Then I realized that I am not worse.” Begimai shared.
In her third year, she created a programming club with her friend to get more practical experience because there was a lot of theory to be practiced. In the club, students could work on their projects, create websites or mobile applications. Gradually, they realized that there are difficulties with practicing theory applications in all universities, so the club expanded to other universities. A year after graduation, the Neobis programming club moved into a new office.
Students who built an IT company from scratch
According to Begimai, working at Neobis was an important experience, as they built an IT company from scratch as students in Kyrgyzstan:
“I started out as a volunteer because I wanted to practice more myself, but as the company grew, I had to go into management, legal, organizational development, and finance. 3 years after the opening of Neobis, we finally settled down and set goals for the next 10 years. Then I realized I want to move on because I wanted to do the technical part. It was a difficult decision, but the right one”. After she left Neobis, she worked at a company in Lithuania developing projects, including financial ones.
Begimai believes that without any experience, you can come to the IT sphere and quickly learn everything. The main thing is desire and belief in yourself. You need to persevere and at some point, everything will work out.
After a year of work in Lithuania, Begimai opened a LinkedIn account and began to receive offers, even from companies such as Amazon, Bloomberg and Microsoft. She accepted the offer to work at Microsoft and now has been living in Estonia for three months working as a software engineer.