The Story: Camilo Diaz on his move from chef to software engineerPosted about 1 year ago by Client Server

Client Server Australia: You were a Chef for ten years, why did you decide to become a software engineer and how did it begin?

Camilo Diaz: When I was in high school, I was always fascinated by technology and even took a few electronics courses. After graduation, I was torn between studying engineering and my other passion, gastronomy. I eventually decided to pursue electronic engineering and did so for three years. During that time, my grandfather, who was a chemical engineer and a big inspiration to me, passed away. I struggled to focus on my studies and eventually decided to take a break and study gastronomy instead.

My break from engineering turned into a 10-year career as a chef, during which I worked in upscale restaurants and gastro pubs in both Colombia and Australia. I was able to apply what I had learned from engineering to my work in the kitchen and approached problem-solving in a methodical and data-driven way, which helped me to succeed and progress in my career.

However, a perfect storm of events led me back to my passion for technology. In mid-2019, I inquired about resuming my studies in electronic engineering but discovered that I would likely not receive credit for my previous coursework due to the amount of time that had passed. Undeterred, I enrolled in a few subjects from the Bachelor of Information Technology program at RMIT and found that I immediately loved it. I continued to enrol in more subjects and, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit Australia in early 2020, I lost my job as a chef like many of my colleagues in hospitality.

It was the combination of enjoying programming-related studies again and losing my job that convinced me to fully commit to completing the Bachelor of IT and changing careers. I'm excited about the future and the opportunities that lie ahead in the world of technology.


CS: What was your biggest challenge when transitioning to a new field and was there anything in your prior job that prepared you for your new position? 

Camilo Diaz: I believe that my biggest challenge was staying focused on my goals in the face of challenges. While I was excited to go back to university and pursue a career in technology, there were times when I questioned whether I had made the right decision or if I was just wasting my time instead of furthering my career in hospitality. For example, there were moments when I struggled to understand a new programming language or framework, when I spent countless hours trying to find a bug in my code, or when I sent out many job applications and didn't receive any positive responses.

However, as a chef, I learned to be resilient, think under pressure, and trust the process. I reminded myself that the most rewarding and delicious preparations I cooked did not come out perfectly on the first try, but rather took time to master. I applied this same mindset to my new field and knew that by following a recipe for a successful career change, which included getting a qualification, always learning, and maintaining a positive attitude, I would eventually succeed.

In terms of my prior job preparing me for my new position, I found that my experience as a chef actually provided me with valuable skills that translated well into technology. As a chef, I had to take a methodical approach to solving problems in the kitchen, which helped me do the same when writing code. I was also used to working in a fast-paced, high-pressure environment, which prepared me for the demands of the technology industry. Transitioning to a new field presented its challenges, I was able to draw upon my prior experience as a chef to help me succeed in my new career path.


CS: Was there anything that surprised you?

Camilo Diaz: Definitely! I'd say the two things that surprised me the most were the vastness of the industry and the level of support within the software community. I'm someone who's naturally very curious and likes to know everything, so at times I felt overwhelmed by the sheer number of technologies and frameworks out there. But on the flip side, I was pleasantly surprised at how active and supportive the software community is. There are so many resources, forums, and people out there willing to help and share their knowledge. It's been really encouraging to see and has definitely made the transition smoother for me.


CS: How have you found working with Client Server Australia?

Camilo Diaz: Working with Client Server has been a great experience for me. David, my recruiter, has been very sincere and respectful in all our interactions. He made sure to keep me informed and prepared for my interviews and technical tests. I felt like he genuinely had my best interests in mind, which made me feel comfortable and confident throughout the hiring process. As a candidate, I appreciate being heard and given the chance to showcase my skills, and I found that Client Server provided me with all of that and more.


CS: Do you still like to cook, if so, what is your signature dish?

Camilo Diaz: Absolutely, I still love to cook! In fact, it has become my primary hobby now that I am no longer working as a chef. The great thing is that I can apply my professional knowledge and skills to create amazing dishes at home. My go-to dish would have to be paella 🥘 - it's always a crowd-pleaser and looks great as the centerpiece of the table. It's also relatively easy to make, which is always a bonus.


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