20 February, 2023
4 min read
Last updated on 20 February, 2023
Soon, we'd have one year since war in Ukraine has started by Russia.
I still can't write or talk about it, especially, to non-Ukrainians. I don't know how to explain war to people, who don't have experience of it. I am also sure I don't have proper words to do that. Sometimes my new friends in Germany say me they understand me. Like, understand words which I say, apparently.
I've recognised real understanding in eyes only from immigrants, same as me, from Africa or South America.
I assume some things just can't be explained, so I won't try to.
I just wanted to dump some of my memories there, trying not to add any judgements or emotions. I believe it can be that some parts are lost because I know that human memory is not a very reliable storage. So if any person who was with me back there reading that and noticing any mistakes, I tried my best.
I had from 3 to 6 interviews per day with different europeans companies and recruiters. I tried to find anything: remote, onsite, doesn't matter. I had few requirements: salary which could sustain me and my partner and possibly healthy atmosphere in a team.
After war had started started, a lot of European recruiters started to write. They've asked for my CV, proposing to apply to some jobs they have. I've sent them my CV back. Then we've agreed on a call after.
On each call they asked me the same things I wrote in my CV. Sometimes, it was very clear they have never opened it. I answered their questions again and again.
Sometimes when I explained my experience, they asked me: 'can you state in years?'. I didn't understand: 'what exactly state in years?'.
"State in years how much you've used it, for each framework and database, we need it for the client".
Apparently, years of using frameworks were not matched their expectations as we had our own internally written framework on my last job.
When I tried to explained how much money or results we've got after I deliver certain features, it was not needed and I didn't have any additional interest. I felt completely useless. (I still feel it.)
It was very hard for me to focus, to assemble thoughts. I came to one more interview, listened the very same questions, tried to find some new ways to answer so it would be a match, but I've lost any hope. I was just continue doing that like a chicken running after human cut its head.
One day my weather has changed. Recruiter from Zalando called me and told they want me on-board. After we discussed it and I ended a call, I thought that maybe I can relax for a while. I told on my previous work that I've found a job, because I didn't want them to know how much layoff hurt me and Maryna.
I knew that layoff hurt everyone who was affected. I just didn't know how to respect myself after that and I was aggressive. I knew that if people in charge had had motivation for me to remain in team, they wouldn't do that, because I saw how they saved several others persons who were laid off.
After saying me good news, the recruiter stopped responding.
I messaged him several times. I tried to find someone Ukrainian at Zalando and ask what's happening. I had no answers.
So I've started to search again. Rich schedule of calls, technical test tasks, weird dialogues, some European guys convincing me that it's Ukraine fault we have that situation. Some of them told me they can't believe it's happening, they have so much Russian friends. I didn't know how to answer and still don't know. I listened.
People still sometimes proactively tell me that they think we should peace-talk with Russia, that violence is bad, that they know a lot of Russians and they are so nice, and whatever. I'm not sure what they need from me. Approval?
I'm so happy that now I at least have a choice to not listen. I can just walk away. I also have started running in the forest, because for some reason it helps me to clean away from those thoughts.
I probably would never forgot one guy, who 'agreed' to work with me, firstly spending one hour to explain his shit-story about how Americans did all of that to dominate European Union. He proposed me to work for a free for month in his startup, and if they decided that I'm good enough, they would start paying me.
Sometimes I think that I'd prefer my memory just to drop something. Just eliminate memories and continue.
Zalando saved me second time, when recruiter finally responded me. He sent all necessary documents. I could be free from daily calls. And that guy with his startup as well.
I was so happy rejecting him. I was so happy. Thank you, Zalando, for that feeling.
From that point I realised I can't rely on any job and almost any agreement. People do rules, and then they think creatively to violate them when have enough motivation. People keep you while you give them what they want and usually it's not your code. But sometimes, yes, it's a code.
Maryna tried to help me and support in any ways she could imagine. We went in forest to see flowers together. Also, we went each few days to a local well to collect water. It was free there.
I loved to carry bottles with water, any exercises helped to not think. I'm so grateful we were together. It was very hard.
I know there were and there are people, who's 'hard' much harder than my 'hard'. Their stories helped me to not break.
I was thinking "if they could, me can too". It was and still is my mantra. I'm saying it to myself each day.
Troy Köhler is Software Engineer living in Berlin, Germany with ~6 years of experience working in technology industry. He used to work in one of the biggest e-commerce product in Ukraine, and now works at Zalando which has more than 7 millions paying customers. He focuses his study and expertise on Rust language, complex backend systems, product development and engineering platforms.
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