To celebrate Women’s History Month, we spoke to four inspiring women at GetYourGuide. They talk about how they overcame challenges in their careers and what advice they’d give to their younger selves.
Ten years ago, I started my first full-time job as a marketing analyst at an IT company. I liked the job, but I wanted to build something myself and admired my colleagues in engineering. That’s when I decided to learn programming and become a software engineer. I doubted myself at first, so I played it safe and combined my job with studying before and after work. Luckily, I quickly got a beginner job at an outsourcing company.
I was simultaneously thrilled and scared wondering if I could keep up with others who had a degree in computer science. After some time, I realized that with effort and support, you can learn anything, especially something so structured and logical as programming.
One of the first lessons I’ve learned from my team lead was that it’s okay to ask questions or admit that you need help. Nobody knows everything — new concepts appear regularly, evolve, and become more complex. You should stay curious, ask questions, and listen carefully to the opinions of others.
The next big step was to change jobs. It was hard to say goodbye to the people who taught me so many things, and the company that gave me the chance to become a software engineer in the first place.
Nevertheless, I felt like I’d grown as an engineer and wanted to try working in a product company where my impact could be more profound, I could explore my creativity, and see how my work benefits customers.
Eight years ago, my daughter was born and brought me limitless happiness forever, and sleep deprivation for a couple of years. Since then, I’ve been balancing motherhood with work which isn’t always easy.
At some point I understood that it’s crucial to be mindful and present in all of the activities, whether it's when you are playing with your child in a playground or working on a feature. Boundaries between work and home don’t make you less of an engineer. They give space to get energy for a new day and be a more productive engineer, an attentive team member, and a happier person.
If time travel were a real thing, I would tell my younger self:
“Look up to people who inspire you, those who are different, you can learn so much from them. Cut yourself some slack once in a while, everyone needs to recharge sometimes.” - Viktoriia K.
I’ve picked up new roles, pitched for my success, managed some of GetYourGuide’s largest partners, and traveled the world for work. At every step, I’ve worked towards becoming the best person I can be.
Here are some valuable tips I’ve learned, that helped me along the way:
Build a personal brand and own your adjectives. I started off being really good at powerpoint designs and pitch decks. This skill evolved to being recognized as a strong communicator. If you focus on harnessing your strengths instead of mending your weaknesses, while paying attention to the things you’re naturally good at, you’ll discover your super talents.
Don’t go with the flow. Make active choices. This is especially important for decisions that will have a direct impact on your growth. At GetYourGuide, I’ve done this by pitching myself for a new role in a meeting during a re-org (which I got), and taking accountability of my career. Accountability and ownership will empower you, and they’ll take you a long way.
Daydream, visualize, and imagine your own success. Negative self-talk is rarely helpful. Work on introducing positive affirmations to your internal dialogue instead. Imagine your success.
Proactively work on anti-burnout. I’ve gone for lunch with my grandparents in Nairobi, paddle boarding with my mom and boyfriend on the Swedish west coast, and hit the ski slopes with my little sister and dad in the Austrian alps. For me, being able to combine travel, family, and physical activity with telecommuting has been the ultimate anti-burnout recipe. That said, however we choose to slow down in life will always be an individual choice, so take time to figure out what that means to you.
I hope to see more people living their best lives, at and outside of work! - Madeleine Simani Lidjan
Early in my career, I left my hometown of Minneapolis for New York City, freelancing for startups and brands I truly admired. This leap led me to what was at that time my dream job with a fashion retailer on the opposite side of the country.
But after five great years, I started to plateau. I knew I had to finally take the leap and chase my dream of moving to Berlin. I arrived here on January 9th, 2020 to join GetYourGuide. I didn’t anticipate how big of a risk this move would turn out to be — that the world and our industry would shut down just two months later.
Like many of us, by March of 2020 I was questioning the decisions I’d made. I had sold most of my belongings to make the move. There was no safety net, nothing I could fall back on in the US if things went really wrong.
Luckily, it was a risk that paid off. In my last two years here, I've gotten to work with incredible people, help shape our brand visuals to what they are today, and build a stronger foundation for how our brand shows up wherever we connect with the customer. Today, I'm the Brand Design & Visuals Lead, focusing on an exciting new challenge — developing my leadership skills and learning how to lead and mentor an amazing team of creatives.
I actually prefer it that way, because that’s what gives me the drive to take risks and try new things. My favorite way to benchmark growth whenever I’m feeling stuck is to think about what the 18-year-old me would say about where I am today.
If the 18-year-old me knew I was living in Berlin as a creative leader for a global travel company, she would be pretty (damn) excited. - Jamie Kuechenmeister
Growth for me has been a direct result of stepping outside of my comfort zone. I’ve always welcomed opportunities to put myself in new (and usually uncomfortable) situations, both personally and professionally, where I’d need to adapt and learn to make things work.
For example, I decided to study in Shanghai while at university. I knew little to nothing about Chinese culture, language, and way of life so decided to spend half a year learning about it. It helped open my mind to different ways of thinking and acting.
I also moved to Italy in my late twenties and took on a role at GetYourGuide. It was a totally new industry for me since I’d never worked in travel, and a new language. Fun fact — in my second week, I was hosting a kick-off event for a GetYourGuide Originals tour in Pompeii with an audience of 30+ guides. All in Italian.
Now I’m in a strategic partnerships role within the Ticketing Unit at GetYourGuide. The role requires a new skill set with a strong technical component (that’s also new to me). Yet I’m ready to embrace and learn!
If I could share something with my younger self, I’d say this:
Work hard to excel at what you do, and opportunities to grow will come your way. When they do, don’t be afraid to take them. Even if the learning curve is steep, the ride is much more fun.
Enjoy the journey while you’re on it, and if things get tough, be persistent, be patient, and find a little humor to get through it. - Claudia Ballve
Interested in a career at GetYourGuide? Check out our Careers Page.
The view from San Francisco: How a global team stays together, while apart