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Tech-Talks in Turkey: Learning How To Learn, with Recep Inanc

In our ‘Tech-Talks’ series, we share real-life stories from key characters in Turkish-tech. These journeys offer lessons and tips for anyone who is interested in joining the tech-industry.
In today’s talk you will discover how Recep Inanc discovered tech at university and cultivated the kind of mentality that all software developers need to succeed. Recep’s perspective is both mature and inspiring. 
Recep spent his childhood living in a variety of different Turkish cities, which taught him the kind of “adaptation skills” that became a cornerstone of his life. 
It was thanks to playing video games like Battlefield 2 in High School that Recep discovered his passion for technology. One day he noticed a glitch in the graphics. That’s when he realized that “someone else made this, and I can make it too”. 
This inspired Recep to start building 3D models for fun, and then as a side-job for a furniture company “so that customers could visualize what the products would look like in their homes”. 
As Recep began to enjoy tech more and more, he started to teach himself a variety of additional coding languages, starting with Ruby. This is what propelled him to study Computer Science at Kadir Has University. 
At university Recep attended as many hackathons as possible and became passionate about building mobile and web apps. Seeking additional work experience, he joined a successful startup called Twentify as an intern in android development. 
After spending 5 months studying Data Science at Coventry University in the United Kingdom, Recep returned to Istanbul and applied to Sahibinden’s “dev.akademi” competition (the next one is October 2020) to land a job as a software developer.
Sahibinden is Turkey’s leading e-commerce and classifieds website and Recep wasn’t sure he would get the job, given that over 1,500 other people also applied.
Recep submitted his CV, finished a competition on Hacker Rank, and then built a product in a day during a hackathon at Sahibinden’s offices. The results were clearly impressive, because Recep won the competition, landing a job as a Junior Software Engineer.  
As with many software developers, what attracted Recep to the tech industry was his passion for problem-solving. He told us “I realized that if I can solve problems for myself, then I can solve problems for others…I love bringing joy to people’s lives and solving their problems.”
This is exactly what Recep does every day. As a member of Sahibinden’s “search” team, Recep’s objective is to make sure that customers find what they are looking for by “dealing with any bugs and building reliable, solid software”. 
A typical day will start with a 9am daily standup to update the team on the status of Recep’s assignments and discover what problems need solving. New assignments are then discussed during additional meetings with the team’s designers, product managers and testers.  
Recep told us that what he enjoys the most about his job is “seeing that people enjoy the products that I build, the documentation and code I wrote…if someone thanks me for the product I made, that’s the whole world for me, there’s nothing better than that for me.”
The great news about working for Sahibinden is that they encourage you to be creative and seek out new problems and according to Recep this helps everyone to “be creative and identify problems so they might come up with solutions that no one else at the company has thought of”. 
At Sahibinden Recep has developed a sophisticated philosophy, describing his approach as that of a “product-minded software engineer”. The key word here is “product” and Recep believes that software developers should engage with “product managers to ask why are we doing this? Why this business? Why not choose this color, or this button?...”
The fact that Sahibinden.com encourages this is no surprise, because it’s an approach that many of the world’s most successful startups have adopted. Tech teams with complementary skill sets that are determined to interact by sharing constructive opinions and insights are much more likely to prosper.    
In terms of skill sets, Recep also reminded us of how important it is to cultivate a continuous learning mindset in the tech industry, explaining that “if you feel you are limited in your abilities or capabilities, all you have to do is expand your skillset, your mindset…learn more things”. 
Specifically, Recep believes you need a combination of technical and behavioral skills to succeed as a software developer. He feels very strongly that “on the technical side you have to know the tech-stack you are using well, you have to get experience to build fast products, but you also have to build reliable and solid software too.”
From a behavioral perspective, Recep mirrors his earlier thoughts about “product-mindedness”, emphasizing that “ownership of the product is a great thing software engineers should have, building a product and thinking end-to-end… I’m writing the code and an end user is going to use it, and how are they going to use it?”.
In the fast-pasted and ever-changing tech industry another crucial skill is adaptability. As Recep explains, the tech industry works in “business requirements that are always changing… so you need to be able to adapt to those changes…and if you don’t adapt, then you get left behind…learning how to learn is the key here.”
Recep faced a lot of early obstacles whilst learning how to code by himself and at times felt “a bit lost about where to go”. In his opinion, tech education “needs to promote more end-to-end guided and product-based or practice-based courses…just like Le Wagon actually… where you learn the theoretical part but mostly focus on the practical side of things, and when you finish the course, you come up with a fully built product.”
In addition to joining practical-courses Recep recommends getting as much hands-on experience as possible by starting an internship. He advises that “it doesn’t matter where you start…get as much experience to see what you can do, and what you like to do…identify these points as quickly as possible and then focus on that”. 
Turning to the future of Turkish-tech, Recep is encouraged by the positive news coming out of a variety of Turkish startups including much-acclaimed Peak Games. He has also noticed a positive mentality-shift in the aftermath of the Covid-19 outbreak. 
According to Recep, the quarantine has inspired “big companies to share their products, architectures and technical blogs… which enables the community to grow exponentially” as a result of sharing each other’s collective learning experiences. 
Recep’s journey really highlights how a passion for learning and problem-solving can help you develop a successful career as a software engineer. 
He told us that “technology is something that enables you to turn your ideas into products, solutions…the only limit is yourself, literally… you can build anything you want if you have the right opportunities”.
We certainly agree with Recep, and this is exactly the kind of positive mindset which we hope will inspire more people to begin their new journeys in the tech industry.
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