Marwa Jawad – Get Ready for Opportunities Before They Come to You

podcast art featuring marwa jawad

Today on Tech Sisters Stories we’re excited to have Marwa Jawad

Marwa enjoys developing things that live on the internet. Her interest in web development started back in 2018 when she decided to try to make her ideas into real projects with HTML & CSS! Fast-forward to today, and Marwa had the privilege of working on a variety of real projects using the latest techniques

Listen to Marwa’s Story

Key Lessons from this Episode

  • Marwa’s experiences as a developer in Iraq (2:00)
  • Be ready for opportunities before you get them (4:30)
  • Without mistakes, you never learn (11:10)



[00:00:00] Grace Witter: As Salaam-Alaikum, you’re listening to tech sisters stories. tech sisters is a community that connects you with other sisters who share your story experiences and goals. So you no longer have to feel like the only one like you on your team. My name is grace and I get to interview the amazing women in our community, share their stories and the lessons they learned.

[00:00:22] Grace: Today we are super happy to have Marwa Jawad with us. Mawa enjoys developing things that live on the internet. Her interest in web development started back in 2018 when she decided to try to make her ideas into real projects with HTML and css. Fast forward to today and Marwa had the privilege of working on a variety of real projects using the latest techniques, and we are very, very happy to have you Marwa.

[00:00:44] Marwa: Me too. Thank you for having me So excited.

[00:00:47] Grace: Yeah. So how did you first get into tech?

[00:00:49] Marwa: Well, the fact that I’m an IT graduate, that’s provide me with the chances to get my food in the door. And with that, having , my Bachelor degree in it, I got my first internship as a React developer. Then I got my first role as a Junior React developer.

[00:01:07] Grace: That’s wonderful. MashAllah. With the React developers, it’s so popular and everyone wants to have a react developer. How do you feel about that?

[00:01:14] Marwa: Yeah, definitely. Actually it was quite challenging because in my country it’s not that popular. We don’t got the private company that is kind of Chances to work with the latest technology. And when I got in the internship, I didn’t know what is React.

I was like I was like recently graduated and all what I have is just js, basic JS and HTML css and with the internship I learned React, then I start to doing real stuff with the company after I got my first role as a junior react developer,

[00:01:48] Grace: MashAllah, so just so that everyone listening knows what country are you from,

[00:01:53] Marwa: I’m from Iraq,

[00:01:54] Grace: and And you’re saying that you’re able to get an internship as well when you were getting started?

[00:02:00] Marwa: My country circumstances is really hard to do. So because when I graduate, you know, just for anyone who, who don’t know Iraq in my country, Normally in the countries, you have the government sector and private sector working side by side to provide opportunity for person, graduate, or at least to provide internships, to get them ready to the job market.

But in my country, I. Private sectors almost died. And the government is really, really complicated things corrupted. You need to pay money or to know someone who is in hiring proposition to get you in. So there’s no way. To work in, in both of these sectors. So from that moment I knew that I need to work outside.

I need to search for opportunity in another country. And it was cost because I’m, I’m natively Arabic and I need to learn English and You need to really have a good level of English to interact with your team learning stuff. All the documentation for the language are in English, so this is the first obstacle if you want to work outside.

And of course, the, the, the, the knowledge the basic stuff that I got to college is not enough to go even in touch. So working on that also, it’s a really challenging and yeah, this is the most Difficult things to overcome as a recent graduate and when you are applying for like, remote jobs, they need somewhere with experience because they will say like, I can hire someone from the country.

Why, why I should hire you. And it’s really complicated like, you need to work, I need experience, I need to convince to work. Just a continuous in this loop. And, and yeah, it’s really frustrating for someone who just recently graduated and you don’t have the right environment to grow and, and to learn the basic stuff just to start doing an earning for a living for sure.

So yeah, that was the most frustrating thing.

[00:04:03] Grace: Yes, definitely. I can really empathize with how hard that must have been. But I think it also is a lot of credit to your character to keep going. And to be able to piece together all this stuff really on your own. Alhamdulillah we have a lot of other tech sisters who are in sort of similar positions where they’re in other countries and they’re trying to get remote jobs, but they don’t have that experience to build that up yet.

Do you have any advice to get that experience?

[00:04:29] Marwa: well searching, searching. We have an old saying in my country

It says it shiftly path and she, So for you, judo, um, the person who search for someone for something. . You will find that. As long as he’s searching. So it is a fact that there is a huge lack of opportunity. It’s almost nothing, but it’s not impossible if you, if you got what the opportunity needs.

I think this is the most important thing. Be ready for the opportunity before you got it. See what to take to get you there and start doing it. Take English, then practice English, gain this skill. learn the basic, learn the thing that you will learn it without mental, without a company supervision or something like this.

Like start while you are on first leg just to prove that you are deserving the opportunity. And it will definitely come. It may take you a lot of time. I must say I, I would never believe that the surrounding environment could prevent you from reaching your goals, but in my case, it’s, it’s slows me down and I think it is, it is for everyone.

It’s good, slows you down, but it never prevents you.

[00:05:45] Grace: Yes. I think that’s, that’s really true and I think even for, regardless of what country or in that advice is true when talking to people who are hiring and the reason why they’re having a hard time hiring entry level people is because they don’t have The capacity, they can’t invest in training for that level.

So they need somebody who’s able to just join the team and start

[00:06:05] Marwa: Yeah.

[00:06:06] Grace: So what that means that if you are trying to apply for those jobs, you need to build up that experience yourself. You need to, think of your own projects, collaborate with other people like in tech sisters, and just work on stuff and build it and you know, do that cross team collaboration, work on your English skills so that when they’re looking at your cv, they’d be like, Oh, well she’s done a lot of the stuff that we.

You’re always working, you know what they’re looking for, and you can look at that for the job descriptions and work towards that inshAllah.

[00:06:36] Marwa: Definitely.

[00:06:37] Grace: So your current situation, are you working for , a remote company? Is

[00:06:43] Marwa: Yeah, I’m . Working as a instructor and it’s Career Foundry platform. It’s a German.

[00:06:49] Grace: Yes, yes.

[00:06:51] Marwa: From, Yeah, we are helping entry level people or people who are not having any experience and they just want to join and, and gain experience for the first time.

They can start their. As a web developer or full stack developer. So we help with them and we provide the feedback and whatever they need. To get there.

[00:07:12] Grace: So this seems like something that you’d have a lot of connection with yourself

[00:07:15] Marwa: Definitely. I have the background as a coding lecture at college, so it was not that. New for me to help them. And still even when I’m not a lecturer anymore in college, I still have the connection with my students, give support with them because it is, in my opinion, this is more supportive from being just developer.

Like, you’re not stopping giving, you just keep giving, keep helping someone else’s thought, new generate. And yeah, it is better than being a developer, I think, but he is . . But definitely

[00:07:52] Grace: Everyone has their

[00:07:53] Marwa: because I feel, Yeah, I, I, I, I believe that it has the kind of advantage that I really. Giving, continue giving for someone who could achieve more than me.

Who knows?

[00:08:06] Grace: Yeah.

[00:08:07] Marwa: Yeah. Which is really interesting. When I was in their age, I , really need for someone to help me mentor me and show me the road and maybe shortcuts away from me. I remember that I spent a lot of late hours and a lot of boot camps and this stuff, but, Having a lot of sleepless nights, trying to find the error.

I was like having, hoping that someone could check out that way for me and tell me what I’m doing wrong. Did I, like, I was like, was skeptic about my way? Did I learn the right technology? Like always need environment for, So it’s really good feel that to be that person. Person when raising need.

[00:08:50] Grace: Yeah, it is really wonderful to share your knowledge and to be able to see the impact it has on people.

With your students. What’s something that you notice that they might struggle with the most frequently, and what kind of advice would you give?

[00:09:04] Marwa: They, they quit quickly.

[00:09:08] Grace: Yeah

[00:09:08] Marwa: They just trying for a few times and just like , this code is not working. I’m not good enough, or oh my God. Yeah, Yeah. But you know

[00:09:21] Grace: it out.

[00:09:22] Marwa: if you, this is different where you feel like you, you, you will give up if you hold on and not giving up at that point. Life would be much easier. I really remember that I was just, I got my first task as a junior develop after I finished my internship in the company, in my, in my first role. And, and I got stuck. I spent like two days trying to figure out where the problem my mentor was not working anymore in my team, So I was having no mentor, having no lead or a senior person in my team.

There is a alone, literally alone, and I just started, didn’t know. I said like, Oh my God, I I’m suck. I’m, I’m not, I’m not the right person for this. After all this, I, after all the courses I got, there’s something wrong with

me, but in, yeah.

[00:10:18] Grace: It’s not the courses.

[00:10:20] Marwa: Yeah, it is me because yeah, you start, yeah, you start blaming yourself, searching for a reason and, and, and, and you finding yourself is the only cause Yeah. And, and just, this is not true. I just wish to back be back in years and tell myself, this is not true. This is normal. This is how things going on in real life.

And this is building up when you not giving at that moment. I remember the HR, not, not sure what the position, the person, but he was there in the HR team. She messaged me, she saw me sending the message and in a really late time, she said like, Are you wake up? Are you having any difficulties that yes, I do.

And I, I didn’t know what to do. Like I didn’t ask, I couldn’t ask her because she was like, No, nothing about my, my, my problem. So it was like everything would be fine and just I went I went out from the the. The platform that we’re working on and just continue doing my code, but eventually it works.

Maybe the code sucks. The code quality was really sucked at that time, but it works. And the, the time that I tried to fix the, the error, I learned a lot. I learned stuff. I, we didn’t. Thought about it without having that mistake. So I, I always tell that my student, that without mistake, you never learn.

You never know that there’s a problem that why is happening or why, how this part of code work. You would never know. You just read it. That like it’s, it’s doing that and that, but in details what could break it. You only know when got

[00:12:10] Grace: It’s broken. Yeah.

[00:12:11] Marwa: Yeah. This error message.

[00:12:13] Grace: Mm-hmm. . No, it’s true. And I think it, that’s why it’s so important for anybody who’s just starting out in tech or is a beginner, to talk and watch people who are more senior do programming and you’ll see how they handle errors and Like everybody Googles, everybody makes

[00:12:30] Marwa: Yeah.

[00:12:31] Grace: everybody gets stuck.

But then they go and they ask questions

[00:12:35] Marwa: They should not take it personally.

That’s the first rule.

[00:12:38] Grace: So

[00:12:39] Marwa: Yeah.

[00:12:40] Grace: But they’ll ask questions and oftentimes the reason why they’re able to kind of rebound from getting stuck is because they’ve had that same error before and they probably have the stack overflow page bookmark, because this comes up so frequently.

This is just what happens with the experience,

[00:12:54] Marwa: Yeah, definitely.

[00:12:57] Grace: Yeah. So what’s next for you, Mauro? What would you like to do next?

[00:13:01] Marwa: Well I’m trying to be good at the gardens. And my dream job is to join fang company. I just, I feel like if I accomplish that and I can’t do anything, so I, I do, I prepare myself for the next month to do that and trying to read a lot about algorithm solve the less coded problems and. Joining the community of, of people who are doing the same.

So I just keep motivated and not giving up easily.

[00:13:32] Grace: Yeah. And yeah, that would be wonderful for you.

[00:13:36] Marwa: Yeah.

[00:13:39] Grace:

what is something in your journey so far that you are most grateful for, or maybe a project that you worked on that you feel really special about?

[00:13:49] Marwa: I think first of all, I would be grateful for myself for, I know that I didn’t achieve a lot, but for someone who said that I, I’m not gonna let the environment and the surrounding circumstances affect me. It is a really great step, especially for, for female in my country. It is, it is really challenging.

You can find really few. Number of girls working in this because it’s dominated by men, and then just keep following you and telling you that. You cannot do it. And yeah, this kind of, I’m really proud of myself to do this, to give learning grateful for this small project that I put to my profile, although it’s like, it’s not having a really high quality, but high quality code.

But I really I really appreciate all the tri tri and, and further that. That I put in the beginning of my, my career back in the days when I remember where I, where I have been and, and the level of confidence that I gained. I remember when I joined the internship, my, my, my English level was sucks. I didn’t even saying a single sentence into a really hard time.

To me. I was crying after the meeting because I felt like, Even when I have that confident in my level, when it’s get real, when you start to interacting, I lose all my confidence and then I still keep telling myself that I can do it. I can be better and it’s happened. Even do is really hard time, but it’s getting better


with with you.

Yeah. Sustain.

[00:15:32] Grace: No, your English is, is wonderful. And I think this is also something that we’ve seen we have like a little language club in Tech Sisters Sisters, which is I think kind of dormant, but it’s, we should wake it up again. But we have lots of Tech Sisters sisters who are non-native English speakers.

Combined with about half of us are native English speakers. So this is like a really great opportunity for us to just talk together and just practice speaking English. Cause I think just, you know, enough to communicate. It’s that confidence, isn’t it?

[00:16:01] Marwa: Yeah, that even if you are able to say one sentence expressing what you are feeling, this is any difference. This is something you need to be proud of.

[00:16:11] Grace: Absolutely. So you brought it up in that answer that it is very difficult in your country for women to be working in tech. So we have questions from Tech Sisters members who are also dealing with being in, , very male dominated workplaces. So not just in the West, but also in Middle Eastern countries as well. So workplaces where , they’re the only woman and there’s also maybe a, a heavy layer of misogyny as well.

So , how are you dealing with.

[00:16:39] Marwa: Actually, I stop listening to them, just focused on myself. Because if you came to the truth, the person who is talking that way about you bullying you just because you are a female. He’s not even as good as you. If you see, like, I don’t wanna compare anyone, even the one who is bullying me, but. Person who has knowledge, person who is available, he would never underestimate others.

So make sure that it’s whenever, you have that person in work or everywhere, even in social media, make sure that this person has a really lack of confidence, lack of knowledge. That way he’s covering that and by pulling the others and just to make them because just they are pen, like they don’t have any They didn’t choose it.

They just bar email and, and why you do such a thing. It’s like just not normal. So just. Stop listening. Stop seeing them because they don’t deserve. Just focus on yourself and be sure that you are equal in mental ability in everything. So why not? Why not doing better even than the.

In the industry, you don’t have any, any barriers.

Your only barriers is eventually in your mind. So just get rid of this and start working on yourself. Just don’t make sense. I start to not listening because like I said, If I, if I start to taking care of these things and listening to them, then I am the only obstacles in my way. I should not just focus on you self improving it, and you would definitely be much better than this person who’s saying such a thing,

[00:18:26] Grace: I like what you were saying, that eventually the only barriers in your mind, because there could be some external barriers at work or people not hiring you, but then you are the person who ultimately makes that decision where you’re gonna be making your next application.

How you’re gonna keep going what sort of things are you going to look out for so you can avoid those places as well. So ultimately it really does come down onto how much you’re able to pivot and adjust and be resilient to these things. And it is something that I think takes time to build up that confidence and that inner strength.

But I think that it really gives us a strength of character alhamdulillah.

[00:19:07] Marwa: Yeah, it is. It is. And along the way, you should be sure that the right company is that. The right people for support, for giving you the right advice are available. You’re just not supposed to be, feel like I’m not gonna find the company that supports me or the company that believe that I could give the value they expect.

Just believe that there is, there is a company that’s suits your expectation. I can not say like, Oh my God, all of the companies will be seeking for the professional males out there. And I would never have the place. This is not true. This is not true. And it’s , like saying inside that there isn’t any good female in the industry.

[00:19:49] Grace: That’s right. It’s two sides of the same coin.

[00:19:51] Marwa: Yeah.

[00:19:52] Grace: there are, there are so many different companies, so different types of companies in different sectors. So you might find that a lot of companies that work for a certain sector will be more likely to have that. Tech bro type of of culture.

And then you might find that maybe that’s not for you and you might wanna work in a different sector. So, you know, there’s lots of options and it is really important to have that support group. Something like Tech Sisters or other, , women that you know that you can talk to and just get support from.

[00:20:21] Marwa: Exactly.

[00:20:22] Grace: be a long process, , finding that

[00:20:24] Marwa: Yeah,

[00:20:25] Grace: But it’s out there,

[00:20:27] Marwa: definitely.

[00:20:29] Grace: Marwa, what’s something in your career path that you regret or you wish you did differently?

[00:20:34] Marwa: Back in the days when I was a student, I wish that I work more on freelance projects.

, I do think that, I don’t know if anyone who could agree with me, but freelance projects they learn people who worked in the freelance project. I have seen developers who work with me, they. They do nothing just but learning from Freelance Project and they are amazing.

What really makes Freelance Project special is that you have a deadline and there’s a specific technology need to learn. So you need to learn this technology in order to accomplish this project. The client is not interested to know whether you are good enough or good in this specific area, so just to learn it and to apply it and deliver the project, and that’s it.

You become more adaptable to learn. Technology and you , just don’t sit there and scared. I’m not scared from this new technology, how learn it and how I will apply it. We just, they are so adaptable. Like people who come out from freelance project, they are so adaptable. They don’t free.

Just try new things. I like this wild part of being

[00:21:49] Grace: The wild part,

[00:21:51] Marwa: Yeah. It feel like, So they just don’t, Oh my God, this is new, new technology. I need a lot of time. I just grab seated documentation. What stake sometimes. Okay. I’m just. Gonna do this and this, and the project will be done and yeah, that’s great.

I feel like this is the purpose of being a developer , this field, like there’s daily and new technology come up and you need to learn it and you need to adapt with all this going on. So this really viable skill. And beside of that, you got and tons of project to put in your profile. So this is definitely something viable and it has a really good sense of money.

So that’s really something I really wish that I would like. I have the chance to do it, but I didn’t. Unfortunately, I’m still seeking for opportunity to join any freelance community, so definitely I’m working on it.

[00:22:48] Grace: Yeah, I think with freelancing One of the more difficult parts is being able to market yourself while you’re learning to do the code. Cause I, I tried doing that before I had my, my first full-time job and I was freelancing for WordPress sites while at the same time, like trying to be better at programming in general.

And you need. Confidence to keep learning. You also need confidence to put yourself out there and find a


[00:23:13] Marwa: it, it, is challenging

[00:23:16] Grace: Yeah, it is, but it is, if you’re able to make it work, it is very, very


Marwa is there any last bits of advice , or final thoughts that you’d like to add?

[00:23:25] Marwa: I would say to all the female out there that you are special and you deserve all the support. whatever the country that you come from and whatever the situation that you have the fact that it’s hard for you to get there, to get your foot in the door, or start doing the stuff that you are love specifically in the field.

Don’t, don’t give up. Your special. You are even not, If you are not equal, you are, you are more viable. Then your counterpart. So work on it and hold up to your dreams. Cause your, your time will come up. Definitely. Yeah. Thank you for having me, Grace.

[00:24:06] Grace: yeah.

[00:24:07] Marwa: Really

[00:24:08] Grace: That was beautiful. I feel like they used to have that under motivational poster. It was like a very

[00:24:14] Marwa: but really

[00:24:17] Grace: Well, thank you very much Marwa. It was really, really lovely talking with You

[00:24:21] Grace Witter: And as always, thank you so much for taking the time to listen today. If you liked it and you like what we’re doing at Tech Sisters consider following us, leaving a review, sharing this episode with any friends or even supporting us on Patrion. All of those really help us a lot. This is a completely non-profit organization. We’re just doing this for.

Sadaqua , so anything that helps more Muslim women find us and discover us and hear the stories is immensely helpful. And if you are a Muslim woman in tech, please go ahead and check out our community. It is completely free and fun and very supportive. You can join by going to our website and filling out the membership form, and you will get a link right away into our slack. So it’s really, really easy.

And that is all for me. And I’ll see you next week. As Salaam alaikum.

Thank you for sharing your story with us, Marwa. Jazakallahu Khair! You can connect with Marwa Jawad on LinkedIn.
If you liked this story, be sure to check our other Tech Sisters Stories and get to know the amazing talent we have in our community.

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