For me, the push to become a software developer was the desire to learn how to automate the redundant task of playlist reporting in my previous craft as the Head of Technology at a radio station. Radio stations are obliged to report the music they play to copyright holder organisations and I was the person responsible for sending out those reports. After a few years of typing out playlists track-by-track I figured there must be an easier way to do it and to find out how I enrolled in a university of applied sciences to study software development. That decision yielded not only a new playlist reporting application but also the base skills and courage required to start the next phase in my career.
Learning to code was only the first and relatively easy step on the path to becoming a solid skilled software developer. The trickier part was finding meaningful ways to apply those skills. In the first half of 2021 I spent as a full stack developer intern at Kela, working on the upcoming Kela.fi -website. This was a great opportunity to gain experience working in a software development team on a service that practically every single person in Finland uses at some point in their life.
When I started to hunt for an interesting job, after hearing about Gofore’s values, company culture, and possibilities in making a positive impact, I knew the job would fit me like a glove. Lucky for me, the nice folks at Gofore thought likewise. Whatever fears of being given typical intern grunt work like going through the backlog tasks on some legacy project while the seniors in the team are away basking in the July sun soon vanished.
Challenging tasks in customer projects
I was given not one but two customer projects, wildly different from one another. The first one was to create two minimum viable product-level applications from scratch for a client in the agriculture industry for keeping track of calf wellbeing. I got to choose the technologies to use, present my creation to the customer and make necessary changes according to the customer’s requests. Quite a heap of responsibility is trusted on a newbie who’s been in the company for three weeks.
The second project was almost the opposite of the first one. I joined the Gofore team working on a public sector project for one of Gofore’s biggest clients. The project consists of a React frontend and a .NET backend. My role was to focus more on the React frontend, while occasionally having to take a dip in the C# side of the codebase. Of the technologies in use, I only had experience with React. The platform upon which we build our project consists of a couple of dozen other services. Setting up the development environment and familiarizing myself with the codebase alone could have been a full summer’s work.
“My teammates in the bigger project did a great job with orientation”
I’d be lying if I said getting productive on the project was a walk in the park, but persistence mixed with a lot of trial and error and support from my teammates paid off. By August I had a few application form components to show my teammates returning to work from vacationing.
Even though I was working solo and remotely in the summer, I was not alone. My teammates in the bigger project did a great job with orientation. Fellow Goforeans were fast to give advice the company Slack channels when needed. When the team returned from vacation and the ”real” work began, I immediately felt like a full-fledged member of the team, despite being new and less experienced. Now I feel like I’m on a professional growth highway towards being not just a better software developer, but a better software consultant. Participating in seemingly mundane meetings with customers provides valuable insight into the customer’s needs and how the more senior members work in more customer-facing roles.
“Everything is figureoutable”
Changing job titles from the head of technology to intern in my mid-30s was a little terrifying at first. On paper, it might even seem like taking a step backward on a professional career. But not a day has gone by when it would’ve felt like the wrong thing to do. For anyone wondering if they’re too old to add to their skill palette and start fresh in a new profession I got an answer: you’re not. Whatever experience you’ve gained in your previous career is an asset and, to quote the wise words of a poster on Gofore’s Kamppi office’s bulletin board, everything is figureoutable.