Changing gears: How Ugnė got on Vinted’s Autobahn
Ugnė Kryževičiūtė

Meet Ugnė, one of the team members in our exciting frontend development team. Once a Customer Support agent for the Spanish market, she rediscovered herself as a frontend virtuoso. With her calm gaze and friendly smile, she approaches her work and life with an open and curious mind. Let’s get to know Ugnė better.

How did you end up joining Vinted?

I completed my studies in Law in the UK, but at that time wasn't quite sure if I wanted to pursue my career in this field. So I decided to spend some time travelling and volunteering before making further career decisions. My search for an internship took me to Guatemala and then Peru, where I volunteered as a conciliator in family disputes and defender of children’s rights. When I got back to Lithuania, I noticed a job offer at Vinted where I could use my language skills to help Vinted members in the newly opened Spanish market. I immediately knew it was the company I wanted to work at. 

Tell us a little bit more about your transition from Customer Support to Frontend Development. How did you end up making such a big career change?

While at Vinted I became particularly interested in frontend and UX. I was curious and needed more challenge and meaning beyond my usual area of work. I was quite lucky to have the opportunity to talk to and gain insight from our frontend development team. Eventually, I took a 3-month coding course in one of the local coding schools.

Later, I approached Monika in our People Team to ask about the possibility to apply for an internship in one of the Product teams. Vinted had never offered an internship for an employee outside their field of expertise before, so it took  several meetings to plan it. Eventually, I was invited to take an internship in frontend development while still keeping my role as a Customer Support specialist.

After the internship was over, I didn't immediately transfer to the new role. I kept learning frontend development by working on my own project (which happened to be a tool for meditation), had regular code review meetings with my mentor, and continued contributing to Vinted's codebase. Finally, I was invited to join the Autobahn team, who take care of members’ trust and safety on the platform.

What do you like most about your work?

The fact that everyone has an opportunity to grow, regardless of the position they’re in. As a CS specialist, I was lucky to get involved in various projects. In the end, I managed to transition from CS to the area that became my passion – frontend development. It's an opportunity I am immensely grateful for. But it was hard and not an easy success story. I blamed myself and felt frustrated for not meeting the expectations I set for myself.  I also didn’t want to disappoint my teammates in CS since my motivation there dropped as well. Actually, sometimes I was close to giving up. Nevertheless, I feel glad to have been surrounded by understanding, smart, and supportive people for the whole time. One of them - my  mentor. Not only he was patient when explaining the ins and outs of things, but also understood my struggles, shared his experiences, and encouraged me to keep going.

What do you value in the Vinted work environment?

From a broader point of view, I value the fact that I can be myself and feel accepted the way I am. Here, I don’t have to wear masks, and I can be open and vulnerable with my colleagues. It amazes me how kind and empathetic everyone is towards each other. When something occurs, even a personal problem, everyone is there to offer support. It is also incredibly rewarding to know that you’re working with colleagues you can call your friends – we often hang out outside of the offise, too!

I guess the other thing is that – although the company is expanding rapidly – there’s no sense of hierarchy within or across the teams. You can chat with everyone exactly the same way and have a glass of wine with a cleaning lady or the CEO. For example, we have “random” team-building events. It’s your typical team-building, but instead of socialising with your team, you’re asked to do activities with randomly selected people from different teams. Mingling with such different people creates the chance for a lot of great ideas to be born. During one of these events, the idea to organise an event with a Tibetan monk came up, which eventually resulted in us organising meditation breaks at the office, which continue to this day.

Tell us more about your passion for meditation. How does it help you at work and in your life?

I became curious about meditation back when I was in university. It took me a while to get into practising it regularly. My first introduction to meditation came from Peter Russell’s teachings. Later, I attended a couple of 10-day Vipassana meditation retreats. I’ve been practising it ever since. Meditation helps me become more focused, stay self-aware, and make decisions with a clearer mind. This alone helps me a lot at work, as well as in my personal life. And there are many more  benefits

What challenges do you face at work and how do you resolve them?

I sometimes find it difficult to find a good work-life balance. I care a lot about what I do and am eager to bring out the best results. So I sometimes find myself fully immersed into work – perhaps a little bit too much! However, I’ve been addressing this challenge and making sure I invest much more time into my hobbies and spend a good amount of time with my friends and family. 

What is a skill you would like to learn?

Every month, I find new areas where I can improve my skills so that I can become fully proficient  in frontend development. In the future, I’d love to be able to help others learn and become a role model – just like others were role models and mentors to me.

Other than that, I dream of learning to play the piano one day. Or… program one to play for me!

What do you like to do in your free time?

I don’t have that much of it, to be honest. However, I’ve just  joined Vilnius Girls Code community as a volunteer, contributing to encourage women in IT to share their knowledge and inspire others. I’m also falling in love with bouldering. Recently, I completed a bouldering course, and I’ve been practising ever since. My other passion is travelling. If I can, I try to take long vacations and stay in one place for a longer time, either travelling alone or with good company.  Spending time in nature, swimming, or riding a bike, are some other ways I like to recharge.

Who do you aspire to?

I’ve met so many people who have been inspirational for me throughout my life that it’s difficult to give a single name. I guess it could be said that most of them share the same trait – despite their achievements or status, they remain down-to-earth.

An exemplary person to illustrate that is the Dalai Lama. I’m always charmed by how humble and genuine he is. It seems that he connects to people effortlessly. He doesn’t take himself too seriously. When it comes to ideas about life, I find Sam Harris to be someone I look up to. I have a lot of respect to those who stay true to themselves, are kind to others, and are not afraid to be different even if they hold unpopular opinions.

I believe that it takes a lot of personal work and creativity to truly motivate and inspire people, especially when it’s getting more and more difficult to create a genuine connection with one another. I am proud to say that I have people who are capable of that in my personal life. One of them is my friend Indre, who has devoted her time to studying non-traditional teaching studies at the DNS (Det Nødvendige Seminarium) in Denmark. I learn a lot from her on how to connect with people from different backgrounds, inspire them and foster self-confidence.

Overall, I believe there’s something we can learn from everybody in our lives. The important thing is to keep our mind open.

The podcasts you love listening to:

Sam Harris

The Sceptics’ Guide to the Universe

The Habitat

The Partially Examined Life

Front End Happy Hour

For Lithuanian listeners:

Urtė Karalaitė

What music do you like to listen to?

Lately, I've been mostly listening to:

Books that you recommend:

Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday

The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth by  M. Scott Peck

The Power of Vulnerability: Teachings of Authenticity, Connections and Courage by Brene Brown

21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari


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