Last updated at Tue, 02 Apr 2024 13:30:00 GMT

Starting a career for the first time in a new country can be intimidating. For Rudina Tafhasaj, her path to Senior Application Engineer at Rapid7 was paved with both unique challenges, and incredible rewards.

Growing up, Rudina was inspired to get into technology by her older brother. “He loved computers, and he was always opening up our big PC. I was curious, and would sneak around to see what he was doing,” Rudina says. “As I grew more, I saw that advances in technology were helping improve lives in so many ways. I knew it was going to be a big part of the future, and wanted to be involved.”

But technology wasn’t her only passion at a young age.

“Deep down my dream and passion is to be an actress - which is totally different! As I grew more, what I realized was that I actually loved the creativity involved in acting, and having the opportunity to network and work with other people.” While there may not always be cameras rolling, Rudina feels there are often similarities between her love of acting and her role today. “I can be creative in code, I can role play different scenarios, and this career is a way for me to tap into both of my passions. I am able to work on really impactful technology in a way that allows me to be creative while also partnering with all kinds of different people and teams along the way.”

At the very beginning of her career, Rudina faced a unique challenge that included relocating from her home in Albania to a new city in the Czech Republic. “It wasn’t easy moving to Prague. I had a tough time adjusting because I had never traveled, never lived on my own, and never had a professional job - and here I was tackling all three at once!” As the only daughter in a family with three brothers, she notes how she had to advocate for herself with her family in making such a big life change. While working as a Junior Developer, she had to work hard to overcome challenges and make an impact in her work.

“At my first job, as I was navigating all of this change, I got a really critical piece of feedback from my manager. I wasn’t developing my skills as much as he expected to see. I was in danger of losing my job if I didn’t make some dramatic improvements.”

This hard conversation served as a wakeup call for Rudina, and ignited her commitment to invest in learning and strengthening her skills so she could achieve her goals. While the feedback was hard to hear, Rudina notes that her manager continued to be supportive of her growth and wanted to help her succeed. “For 6 months, I woke up, went to work, came home, ate dinner, and then studied until it was time for bed. After doing that on repeat, my manager was able to see a dramatic improvement in the rate in which I was learning and growing. While there was still more to learn, he was impressed with my dedication and I continued to grow in my role.”

Rudina’s hard work paid off, and two years later, she took her career a step further with a position as a Salesforce Developer at Barclays. “I am so grateful to have had a manager that was able to give me the feedback I needed, while also encouraging me to stick with it and offer support along the way.”

Now a Senior Software Engineer at Rapid7, she reflects on her journey with a strong sense of pride and accomplishment. “Whatever challenges I went through in previous employers has made me the best person for Rapid7, and I’m grateful for all of my past experiences.” Overcoming challenges can sometimes feel uncomfortable, but it is often necessary to grow and move our careers forward. “It’s a continuous cycle too, as you grow and get more experience, you continue to set your goals higher and seek out the next challenge. There is always more to learn and more ways to grow in your career, especially in technology.”

Her appetite for continued growth is what ultimately brought her to Rapid7’s newest office in Prague in 2023. “I felt like I was ready for new challenges that would continue to accelerate my growth.” When looking at where to go next, she had three requirements that she was looking for in her next employer.

  1. A clear development plan with support from her manager
  2. A culture rooted in honesty and trust
  3. Competitive and fair compensation for her work. Growing her earning potential alongside the growth of her career as she continued to advance.

“When interviewing for the role at Rapid7, I found evidence of everything on my list, and so much more as well. What really stands out the most is the trust and responsibility given to me by the business analysts or project managers that I partner with. They will share what they are looking to do, and then give me the responsibility and the autonomy to go ahead and find a way to make it happen - even when I’m brand new. It feels good to be given that trust and to be able to work on business critical initiatives where my ideas are respected and valued.”

When asked what advice she would give others looking to take on a new role, she says to note down what your expectations and goals are. “Use the interview time to ask whatever questions you need to help understand if it’s the right move for you, or not.” Rudina says having things defined before the call helps you stay on track and get the most value as you weigh your options. “I had a lot of questions during my interview - but because I was able to get answers, I walked away with a really confident feeling that the role at Rapid7 was going to be just what I was looking for.”

For Rudina, growth and development was essential in her next role. As someone who embraces new challenges, and represents Rapid7’s core values every day through her actions and work, it didn’t take long for her to be offered yet another opportunity. Within her first three months, she was given the chance to serve as a team lead. She looks forward to continuing to make an impact in her work, grow her career, and support others through her participation in the Rapid7 Women Impact Group.

To learn more about career opportunities and what it’s like to work at Rapid7, visit our careers site.