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29 July 2016
Work while you study and gain experience

Mateusz, senior developer at Sollers Consulting, tells us how to start your career in IT industry during IT studies.

When did you decide to start working as a developer?
When I finished 3rd year of my IT studies at Lublin University of Technology I felt that it’s high time to verify and develop IT skills in practice. I wanted to check how the day-to-day developer’s work at commercial projects looks like. I knew that they are much more complicated than those we did at university.  I decided to send my application to Sollers Consulting, took part in the recruitment process and soon I joined the team as a junior developer. When I started working at Sollers Consulting, I was open to long-term cooperation, so when holidays came to the end, I hadn’t any doubt that I wanted to continue this adventure. However, beacuse of my studies I had to decrease my FTE.

Was it difficult to combine your job and duties at university?
I worked for 32 hours a week during the last semester at IT engineering studies. Sometimes I started working at 07.30 AM, then I had a break since 11.30 AM till 04.00 PM because of lectures at university and came back to work for few hours.

I continued full time master studies working full time. Despite achieving a little bit worse exam results acquired new, significantly more valuable IT skills and practical knowledge. I can even say that I passed some exams thanks to the knowledge which I had gained at work.

How do you assess the decision to combine work and studies?
Absolutely positively! I can say even more: If I had been able to put the clock back I would have made the same choice… or I would have been looking for opportunities to start working even earlier – after 2nd year of studies. I am convinced that gaining such practical experience pays off.

What advice would you give to your younger colleagues who want to start their career in IT industry?
Apart from gaining professional experience as early as possible what I mentioned above, it’s good to join an active, well-organized students organization. It brings double benefits. On the one hand, this is an excellent opportunity to improve your soft skills, which are usually pushed aside, as students are not aware of its importance in their daily work – both in the project team, as well as in discussions with non-technical people. On the other hand, thanks to the wide range of activities (such as trainings or workshops), it helps to gather new technical knowledge and improve IT skills, which are not included in the basic program at university.

In retrospect, I see that it is worth paying attention to the following issues:

  • Version control systems (Git, SVN)
  • Frameworks (eg. In the case of Java – Spring and Hibernate)
  • Design patterns (eg. Strategy, Adapter or Visitator) and good practice of writing clean code
  • Tools for static code analysis (eg Sonar) and the rules that they check
  • Unit testing – what they are and what for
  • Project management systems (eg. JIRA)

In college these topics are often discussed briefly, but they are a part of everyday work. It’s worth taking part in the trainings mentioned above or trying to get such a knowledge on your own. Then the first steps at IT career path should be easier.