My career as a software engineer really began the moment I walked through the glass doors of the Alasco office building. As I didn’t know what to expect, a multitude of questions were racing through my head. To two prominent ones, which kept coming back to me were:
- How will I grow as a professional?
- What will I learn?
Nine months on I feel as if I can start to address them. Which ladies and gentlemen, is what I will be doing in this article, through the use of a few salient points that I have compiled.
Closed mouths don’t get fed
It’s important to keep in mind that the service being developed at Alasco is targeted towards those that work in property development. If you are like me, then jumping into a startup that operates in such a space may be a bit of a challenge. There are a lot of fancy words and processes to come to terms with, which may be slightly harder if you have little to no knowledge of the German language.
Fortunately, as everyone speaks English at Alasco, coming to terms with the domain language can be as simple as “ask and someone will explain”. The question then is, “who should you ask?”.
It’s usually the case for software engineers, that we don’t deal with customers on a daily basis. As a result, there will be times where we may need a further understanding of the reasons why a feature is to be developed and designed in a certain way.
When faced with such questions, it’s helpful to seek those who have a deeper understanding of what it’s like to step into the shoes of a customer. There are many at Alasco who know what that’s like, such as those in Product and Customer Success, and during my time at the company they have been the best to approach.
It’s more than just the code you write
One of the many great things at Alasco is that you’re not constrained to the role of software engineer. Sure, you write and maintain code or infrastructure more than anything else, but it doesn’t end there. Even as a backend engineer you can opt in for working on the frontend or vice-versa.
Many opportunities arise where you can go beyond the code you write. For example, at the end of a sprint, each team goes onto presenting the features / fixes that have been made throughout the past two weeks. The same can also be said about sprint retrospectives, where an engineer usually takes the lead of setting up and moderating it.
For those of you who enjoy putting pen to paper (more so fingers to keys), there is also the alasco.tech blog. Where once a month an engineer or someone from Product go about writing and publishing a post.
To sum up, not only do you improve as an engineer in regards to programming etc, you also get the chance to enhance skills such as communication, moderation and writing.
Development on a Large Budget
It’s a fact that the profession of software engineering is developing at an insane rate. There’s always some new framework or language that’s trending on HackerNews or Reddit, which can at times feel as if there is too much to learn.
Aside from the software industry, there may be other skillsets you may want to improve or learn. Whether that be picking up a new language (e.g. German), furthering leadership skills or wanting an insight into areas such as design or product management.
Luckily Alasco has an annual budget of €2.000 for every full-time employee at the company along with 3 days of the year for personal development. One can use this for conferences, seminars, books or courses. For example if you are someone who works as a frontend engineer and want to better understand the backend stack, then you can use the budget to take courses or attend conferences.
I started Alasco as a junior backend engineer and looking back there has been a lot that has started to shape me as a professional. More importantly however there still so much potential growth in the near future.
If you clicked and read this article in hopes of gaining an insight into personal development at Alasco, I hope this article fulfilled that curiosity.