Last Updated: January 1, 2019
This story begins in Transylvania, where I was born. I lived most of his life there. As a child, my dream was to live and work for Microsoft in the United States. That was my one and only dream. The likelihood of that dream coming true was minuscule; after all, I was born and was living in Romania.
For whatever reason, I always loved programming. But I never knew why I loved it so much. So when friends asked why I loved it so much, I decided to stop giving them explanations. It was part of who I was; and that was good enough for me.
As a child, I remember spending countless evenings in front of the computer. But only after I had finished my homework for the next day. My mom made sure of that. It began with a ZX Spectrum and Sinclair Basic. My dad had several magazines that came with printed code that you could type to build a game. I could then alter certain variables to mod the game in small ways. The experience was magical.
Years passed and I kept this habit of spending time programming every day. And I became good at it. My mom pushed me towards programming contests and I became good at those. While in college my team ended representing Romania to several international contests. Those were the first few years when I realized that you can make a career and living out of programming. Before that, programming was too much fun for me to not do.
Then one year, a recruiter from Microsoft came to the university where I was studying. And he told us to send our resumes to him, which I did. Then I had to pass a tech phone screen and on-site interview at Microsoft in Poland. In Poland, I had three 30-minute interviews. I was super emotional during the interviews because I was fighting for my dream. After 1.5 hours of interviews, I left to the airport to return to Romania. Problem was that my flight was only to take off after 9 hours. I had planned it this way because I was expecting a full day of interviews from what I had read online. So all I did was sit in one of those uncomfortable airport chairs. And think whether I did a good job or not. For 9 hours...
Two weeks later I heard back from Microsoft. They were offering me a summer internship in Redmond, WA. I was so thrilled. My dream was about to come true. And I was going to work for this new product called Bing. And so I accepted the offer and flew to the US for the summer of 2009. The internship was amazing and they made me a full-time offer when it came to the end. I came back to Romania, finished my studies and relocated to the United States in 2010. And worked for Microsoft and Bing for 7.5 years. If always joke that if I had passed away after I got to work for Microsoft, I would have died happy. My dream had come true. And that was magical to me.
During my tenure at Microsoft, I always felt that I owed them my life. They found me in Romania, recognized the little bit of talent I had, and relocated me to the US. They offered me a better life. To me, it was never about a better life, it was always about this crazy dream to work for Microsoft. It was only after I lived in the US for a couple of years, did I realize the difference. On average, life is so much better in the US, in so many ways.
Living in the US made me finally understand why I fell in love with programming. I did not know this when I was a kid. Programming was a way for me to escape the limitations of the physical world. You sit in front of the computer, which is a fixed cost, and you can build anything you want. It does not cost extra to build a button on a form. It does not cost extra to build a text box on a form. In fact, it does not cost extra to build your own world where everything is exactly how you want it to be. The computer does not judge you for how you look, the shoes or the clothes you are wearing. The computer allowed me to build my own little world: an escape! Very much like Minecraft, but instead of building houses you are building abstract programs. All one needs is a cheap computer.
So I have built TalentSort to help others in similar life situations. To do what Microsoft did for me. To find and recognize those talented people who were born without opportunities. And despite the lack of these opportunities they have somehow managed to get in front of a computer. And loved programming for what it is: an escape. And studied programming for countless hours. And they became very good at programming with or without formal training. TalentSort was built for them. Cheers!
Co-founder & CEO