Software Engineer at Crossroads

Posted on 13/06/2022, Angela Čelar

I am Angela Čelar, Software Engineer at Kiwi.com, and I will share a story of my professional development. I always wanted to grow my career, be the lead developer on some features, to be invited to some high overview meetings and similar. But how could my managers know that I wanted all of that? I needed to express my willingness and proactively talk about my capabilities, come up with new ideas, and act on my own initiative. It’s not about getting what you deserve, but it’s about asking for what you want. You have a choice and you need to own it.

I started out as an intern who literally said “I don’t know anything, but I want to learn.”

I’ve been doing my job very well for the past few years, but it felt like I did the same things every day. The learning curve was extremely steep. It wasn’t just the new job environment but learning the ropes in the company and learning how to work in my team. I wanted to learn about everything – but along the way, I recognized what I wanted to know more about, and what was the necessary evil. I wanted to make the most of what my company can do for me to grow as an engineer. How could I do that? 

There are a lot of things you need to accomplish in order to evolve into a senior. It starts from taking initiatives to widening your knowledge about the domains and the technologies, but it’s also about learning some alternatives to the approaches your team has. There is a lot of team-specific knowledge you acquire but you need to know a lot about what others do and how you depend on them or how they depend on you. Makes you wonder, what are the next steps? I started out as an intern who literally said, “I don’t know anything, but I want to learn.” Three years later I’m still here and still learning. I was the engineer who decided to stay and try to make the most of the situation. I had an opportunity to move within the team and try different positions.

We do have managers and team leads to go to, but it’s not entirely up to them if a medior is going to grow to become a senior. They’re here to listen, help and direct you to the level of your expressed potential but they are not here to do the work for you. When I realized that myself, I started planning my career more distinctive in terms of what skills I need to acquire. I enrolled in a mentorship program that we have in-house, but felt out of place since the topics weren’t challenging enough for me. This was a sign to me that I might just need to throw myself out there and start working on something more complex.

My efforts paid off

Although it wasn’t the time for me to go to another team, I decided to try to still find something new to do while remaining a part of the same team. I picked up an extra 3 hours of work on a project with a different team. That’s when the long hours really started, and I was again feeling like an intern, using up all my smarts on the job and having to take a nap when I got home. It was tiring, but I was happy, and was learning a lot really fast! After a while, both leads started syncing about what I was doing, since the new team lead noticed I can do a lot even if I’m working with his team for just a part of the time. Turns out both of them were convinced I was working at 70-80% effort in their teams, summing me up to ‘an engineer and a half.’

I’ve put a lot of effort into this and it paid off – I was noticed as an important part of both teams and both team leads knew they could rely on me and that I can work with no supervision. I have a more clear vision of how I want my career to progress and I learned to express my interests and intentions more clearly. I made sure to communicate with all of my managers in a manner they can understand what I want. I’m included in more stuff, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop trying to find new challenges, because this is my growth – not my managers’ responsibility.

If you want to join our team and work with our incredibly talented and ambitious people such as Angela, hurry up and check our open positions!