Culture

Dear future colleague, this is why I left Reaktor and then came back

November 2, 2020

Read time 5 min

Dear future colleague,

Like many others, my career has had its share of turning points. Some of them have been small, some more profound. For me, the most profound moments are all tied to Reaktor.

It took me years to find what I wanted to do professionally. I started my higher education learning about wood technology, switched to marine technology, and then finally to software engineering. I wrote my first lines of code during the first year of my software engineering studies. From that moment on, writing code has been a fascinating creative outlet for me. 

My first day at Reaktor was in December 2016. I remember the surreal feeling of sitting on the sofa at our old office and talking to so many talented and friendly people. I felt humbled, honored, and proud to be part of our community. Not long after, I was working on a project in one of the best teams I have ever been part of. Together we laughed, went through thick and thin, and supported and cared for each other while simultaneously delivering a service for millions of users.

Learning, training, and sparring are at the core of Reaktor, and I took advantage of that. I remember coming back home after some very enlightening training and enthusiastically drawing smileys on post-it notes to explain how context switches cause delays. I think those training sessions contributed in part to my desire to learn facilitation and coaching, but I am jumping ahead of myself.

I remember 2017 vividly because of how it changed my life. A morning in December, just a year after starting at Reaktor, saw me crying at my exit interview with one of our cordial HR representatives. I was at a turning point in my career. I had become a parent during the year, which had made me find and lose my way at the same time. Before I had become a parent it was enough to solve problems in a great team, but now everything I did professionally had to be meaningful; every project needed to have a positive impact. 

I cried too because I felt like I had failed to help those that needed my help the most. I remember reading about a young developer somewhere in the U.S. who had developed an app to help other young LGBTQ+ people discreetly ask for help and send their location to their loved ones if they were in a threatening situation. And there I was, learning how to take care of a child, someone so little and helpless, and I realized I was not doing enough.

Looking back, I see how I could not articulate the kind of projects I wanted to take on. Having a vague idea that “it has to have a positive impact” is not descriptive enough, and I got scared. I went back to what was safe, to what I knew, and left Reaktor. I was a year older, a year wiser, and had seen what it is like to work in an organization like Reaktor. That year taught me a great deal and changed me for the better.

Only two years later, I was knocking on the doors of Reaktor again. It all started slowly, in those quiet thoughts we have right before falling asleep. What was it that I wanted to do? I had been a developer for ten years and felt like it was time to try something else. I had grown to love facilitation and coaching and wanted to do more of that, but I was not ready to leave coding behind altogether. I wanted to experiment.

In a traditional organization, you usually have a career path that helps you grow within your field. As a developer, you often need to take on a managerial role to move forward. There is no easy way to move horizontally, to branch out and try different roles. That was my dilemma. For me to advance in my career, a new level of organizational hierarchy would have to be created for me to move into. It was a Friday in February 2020 and I was at another turning point. On Sunday, I sent a message to Reaktor that I would like to come back.

Coming back felt so much like coming home. I knew these people and knew the way things worked. Even working from home didn’t feel lonely because I knew this company. And at the same time Reaktor had moved forward during the two years I was away. We are more clearly an international company nowadays and we employ a more diverse group of individuals than before. Something that felt good before felt even better now. I had grown too and had learned how to articulate what I wanted. I felt ready for the adventure.

I came back because of our humanity: the way we care about our colleagues, our customers, and the world we live in. The way we trust each other and want everyone to succeed, and the way we know it is okay to fail. I also came back because of the way we learn, share opportunities, and grow. Currently, I am on a project where I coach and help others to succeed. In the next one, I might code again. The beauty of possibilities is this: you define your path. 

Dear future colleague, it is okay to get lost sometimes, and it is okay to learn new things about yourself and what you want to do. It is okay to speak about it, and it is okay to change your mind. We are here when you are ready.

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