Relatable Greatness Series: Marilii Saar

After spending several years in Theater, Marilii Saar moved back to Estonia to become a full-time programmer. This is her story.

Job Title: Junior Web Developer

Location: Tallinn, Estonia

What do you do in your job?

I design and code websites

What do you like about your job?

I love problem-solving and finding solutions to difficult features – it is so satisfying when you test something and it finally works. I also enjoy team-work and discussing possible solutions / ideas with my colleagues.

What is hard about your job?

Testing – there always seems to be that one device that behaves differently from the others.

What’s something that you did recently that you’re proud of?

I completed the Vali IT! retraining programme and decided to actually make a career move to IT. I am really proud of the website we designed and coded during my work experience. I had to learn JavaScript for the very first time and it was great to see the client happy with the end result.

What are your two values?

  • Honesty is the best policy – I always try to own up to my mistakes. I am also a strong believer in “give credit where credit is due” which falls under the same category.
  • Always keep learning – There’s always something to learn and take away with me for the future.

Tell us about a time when you took a stand for something you believe in

Living in London, I had a very different job and I associated with a lot of artists – people who have very liberal and inclusive views. Therefore, when I first moved back to Estonia and to a much less ‘arty’ circle of people, the apparent fear of inclusion was rather shocking.

In fact, during those first few weeks, a group of us decided to go out to get to know each other better. Somehow the conversation turned to “harmless” black jokes and a member of the group thought they were OK amongst friends because “what’s said amongst friends, stays amongst friends”.

I must admit that I saw red and, therefore, was not as eloquent or calm as I would have liked. But, for the first time in my life, I felt the need to confront someone about their racist views. After the argument, I probably shook for the rest of the evening, both shocked by the fact that, in this day and age, that person still thought that racist jokes weren’t harmful to anyone and the fact that I actually confronted someone in a group where I was pretty certain I’d be the only one who had the courage to say anything.

However, if I’ve learnt anything from living in London, it’s that:

These conversations are more important than my personal comfort – as long as people get to express their racist views without any consequences, they’ll keep thinking that the rest of the world thinks like them but are just trying to be ‘politically correct’.

Where do you come from?

I suppose that my IT journey really began when I discovered pixel art as a teenager. I started designing very basic websites and I’ve been hooked ever since. For some reason, I always saw it as more of a hobby and decided to pursue acting instead. That took me to the UK where I attended drama school and got my BA in Acting. I worked as a freelance actor for years whilst doing customer service and admin jobs as my ‘day job’.

I actually started thinking about a career move a couple of years ago. I had started designing websites not just for myself but also for friends and family. This proved to me that I was passionate about programming – once I started on a project, I could work for hours completely forgetting the rest of the world. I don’t really recall being this engrossed in work before so when my mum suggested that I move back home to Estonia to attend a course, I jumped at the opportunity.

I wrote what I was sure was the worst cover letter ever and the rest is history. I was one of the lucky ones in my group because I managed to find a company who let me do my work experience from home – the only reason I could do it during the recent emergency state and isolation.

Actually getting to code for 8 hours a day 5 days a week for 8 weeks definitely cemented the idea that programming was the thing for me

I have never been this happy to get up in the morning to go to work.

Where are you going?

I am certain that I want to keep writing code, although I haven’t 100% made my mind up on the stack. I am currently still actively learning JavaScript, Java, and recently, Python. I’m also thinking of a masters in IT. I’ll make my mind up eventually but as long as I’m learning, I’ll ride the wave and see where it takes me.

What is one setback/challenge that you faced?

I had made my mind up about staying in the UK forever so deciding to move home almost felt like step backwards – I left everything I worked for behind to go and live with my parents again.

How did that experience change you?

I have realised that sometimes you need to go backwards in order to move forward.

Without the support of my parents and the chance to live at home again, I never would have had the means to complete an intensive IT course and I would still be dreaming about making a career change.

Change is scary and fear can play tricks on your mind but having pushed through it, I am grateful for the opportunity. If anything, this has been a huge leap forwards – it feels rejuvenating and hopeful, even in the backdrop of an emergency.

What is something you wish someone told you 10 years ago?

It’s OK to change your mind about your dreams

Where can people find you?

This article is a part of Relatable Greatness series where we explore greatness in everyday people as expressed through their values and actions. We believe that there are many great employees behind the success of companies and they have beautiful stories. If you want to get featured (you probably should 😉), fill out this form –

We try to publish every submission.

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