How returning to studies reprogrammed Wagner Souto’s life

Wagner Souto, software engineer at iFood, tells how he found studying an opportunity to not only change careers but also to start over in life.

“Today I feel like I’m at the beginning. I was a guy who didn't make plans because I didn't have the money or the head for it. Now I have it, you know?” This is how iFood's newest software engineer, Wagner Souto, defines his moment in life. Returning to studies, changing careers and strengthening family relationships are the pillars of this feeling.

Wagner is 36 years old and is from Porto Alegre (RS). Between 2014 and 2022, the bicycle that takes him everywhere in the capital of Rio Grande do Sul was his main means of subsistence. This is because before working in the technology area at iFood, he made deliveries by bike. 

To supplement his income as a yoga teacher, he carried a little bit of everything on his back: documents, dental materials, exams, coffee, organic foods (including watermelons!) and the vegan dishes that he made and sold himself. 

The delivery experience began with a group of delivery people. But shortly afterwards he was working alone with some clients that he inherited from his first experience. “I drove an average of 60 km a day”, remembers Wagner.

An active life, a job that ended late in the afternoon, a newborn child... Looking at it like that, who could have imagined that Wagner's life wasn't one of the most peaceful? Well, it wasn't. In 2019 came the separation and the end of his career as a yoga teacher. During this period, he also became involved with drugs. “I destroyed myself a lot”, he admits.

One saved the other

In the meantime, Wagner met his current partner. Between dating and commitment, there was a separation, another relationship and a reconciliation. Wagner says:

“I met her when I was using drugs. We live together, but dependence created horrible things in our relationship. Then I joined someone else. One day, in October 2020, when I hadn't used it for two months, we had a disagreement and she kicked me out of the house.

I was packing my backpack to leave on the balcony and I was about to throw myself off there. At that time, my current partner called me saying that she had dreamed about me and that she was worried. I said: 'are you kidding, someone told you to call!'”.

It wasn't a thought out case. Wagner told him everything he was going through and his current partner went to meet him. She had already been clean for two months too, but that day she relapsed and decided to get in touch, asking for help. One saved the other that night.

The beginning of the (re)beginning

“What made me stop was the lack of perspective,” says Wagner when asked what motivated him to quit drugs.

And this perspective was found when Wagner began studying programming. He was always passionate about the subject, he just didn't remember it. When he lived with his first wife, he bought some courses online to study, but the plan didn't go ahead. 

Do you know what else made him find perspective? The family. “I wanted to set another example for my kid”, says one of the future devs from iFood. “I always saw my father studying and I wanted my kid to see me like that too. It’s not a demerit to make deliveries, but I wanted him to see me doing other things.”

So much so that it was the bike deliveries through iFood that, in a way, paved the way for the career transition, the third pillar of this story.

With a more organized routine, there was time reserved for studying — usually very early in the morning, even before sunrise — and time for making deliveries, still on a bike.

It was at that time, in 2021, that he registered with iFood to deliver via the app. In the same year, Wagner signed up for an Alura course, took courage and sent a message to Paulo Silveira, CEO of the educational institution, “promising” to meet him one day to talk about how his studies and the developer community helped him return to life.

“Returning to studying was a lifeline. At the time, all I had was my desire to learn and a Raspberry Pi [multiplatform single-board mini-computer used to teach basic computer science]. I wanted to go back to studying and work with my head”, he says. “And I can't help but recognize the developer community, because I needed new social circles.”

The boldness resulted in an opening for contact. After that, another bold move: Wagner made a post on LinkedIn with a video with the code of a project I was doing on the course and tagged iFood: “hello, iFood. There are cyclists who want to become developers.”

Didn't it turn around? Silveira asked for his contact details and some time later a message from iFood appeared in his email box to participate in a selection process. And he has been at iFood since April 2022 for a new beginning, one that now allows him to make plans.

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