Culture, Technology

It’s not all about your tech stack, it’s about your creativity – Here’s what it’s like to join Reaktor as a junior developer

Illustration by Minna Viitalähde

Dear developer and developer-to-be,

Jan Horešovský and Ville Heikkilä joined Reaktor in 2020 and 2021 as junior developers. In this blog post, they reveal what it was like to apply and what their day-to-day looks like now. 

So, why Reaktor? What drew you to Reaktor in the first place?

Jan: I want to do meaningful work, something that helps people and at the same time provides the right type of challenge for me. Something I’m reasonably good at with plenty of room to improve and push myself further.

Jan: I saw (and still see) Reaktor as a platform for personal growth. A place that provides lots of interesting opportunities to work on and people to work with and gives lots of freedom and responsibility to individuals. I used to think I would never join a consultancy because they don’t care about what they do as long as it makes money, but now I believe that consultancies can also make money by caring about what they do. So they can be very nice places to work! 

Ville: I met Reaktorians during my studies, and they left a lasting positive impression. The stories about it made it sound like a cool place to work.

“Reaktor’s Slack is nuts.”

We’ve been working on our trainee process for years. There’s an assignment and application phase, and then two interview rounds. But what did you think of it? What was it like applying to Reaktor? 

Jan: Engaging! 

Ville: I feel that the recruitment process was handled very well. The pre-assignment was a fun side project that didn’t take too much time. 

Jan: I liked that there was an assignment because I feel that a practical coding exercise is a much better place to showcase what I can do than a CV or a cover letter. I also liked that Reaktor was very responsive and made the process quite fast. Overall, there was more doing than waiting which is always good.

“I used to think I would never join a consultancy”

The assignments then got you interviews. Our trainee process includes two interviews, in which you had a chance to meet your potential future colleagues. How would you describe your interviews?

Ville: Both interviews were led by developers and focused a lot on the technical knowledge that made the process feel rewarding. I remember being amazed by just how fast the time went and how fun the interviews could be.

Jan: They were both really pleasant conversations. I remember being nervous about some technical mistakes I made or details I didn’t know, but at the same time I got a lot of space to show what I do know and what I can do. That seemed to prevail in the end.

Ville: I did stumble quite a few times too. On the other hand, I learned a lot from both interviews so it would have been worth it in either case. 

So then you’re in! What’s it like to work at Reaktor? Tell us about your average day.

Jan: I’ve been working with a client’s online store, and finding ways to improve it with data.

Ville: During the past 9 months I have mostly worked remotely because my client is located in Japan. My days start around 8:30 due to the time difference with a daily meeting. After that, I focus on software development and go through the details about the features we are about to implement. We tend to have some daily conversations within the team, but most of the time I can just focus on going through and solving the issues at hand.

Jan: I’ve been working a lot remotely too. Lots of working with the client, working with my teammates. Internal trainings, discussions, trying to soak in all my colleagues’ knowledge and use it to sound smarter during my next client meeting. Oh, and then I would also write code! A lot!

Ville: We have an always-on Google Meet in the background that makes the remote work feel a lot less remote. It’s always easy to jump in and have a discussion about anything. 

“Even as a trainee, I had the same level of autonomy as anyone else.”

Is there anything that’s surprised you – about the company, your colleagues, or yourself?

Ville: I was expecting to meet nice and motivated people and I can safely say that those expectations were met.

Jan: Reaktor’s Slack is nuts. It gets a bunch of new emojis every day and they get incorporated into the way Reaktorians communicate so much that it’s hard to express oneself outside of Reaktor’s Slack.

Ville: I was surprised by just how flat the organization is, and how much freedom people have. Even as a trainee, I had the same level of autonomy as anyone else.

Another thing we do at Reaktor are development talks. This means that all Reaktorians are encouraged to gather feedback from a group of colleagues, and contemplate it with a senior colleague. You’ve had your first Talk now too. What was that like?

Jan: For me, the most important part of the discussion is what precedes it. One has to start by gathering feedback from colleagues and clients. I’ve come to realize that gathering feedback is not as trivial as it may seem at first and at the same time it is a very crucial skill. 

Ville: I have had two feedback sessions and those went great. It’s hard to underestimate the value of feedback because it can be easy to be blind to your strengths and weaknesses.

Jan: You need feedback to improve. In a company like Reaktor the responsibility for gathering feedback lies on each individual. 

We do take professional growth seriously here. Any areas you feel like you’ve really gotten to develop your skills?

Jan: Being a better person and communicating with others. There is a lot of emphasis on communication skills at Reaktor and for a good reason. The lack of them is mostly what makes projects fail, technical skills are often sufficient.

Ville: I think my software development skills have seen a huge jump in a short time due to working with a team of such experienced developers. And yeah, having worked in a multinational, multicontinental team has been an amazing experience that has boosted my language and communications skills. 

“It’s more important what one can do rather than what they cannot do.”

Any tips for developers-to-be or devs out there, taking the first steps towards their ambitions? Or you know, someone looking at this post with the next junior application task at hand.

Jan: I would also say that in interviews as well as in projects, it’s more important what one can do rather than what they cannot do. No matter how difficult a problem seems to be, there’s always a way around it with current skills and abilities, one just needs to be creative enough. 

Ville: Research the company. It helps you to get an idea of whether the company is a good fit for you and what kinds of things the interviewees are likely to focus on. Reaktor has made this even easier by collecting the most important things into Github: Tips for Juniors.

We’re looking for the best potential, the experts in the making.  Check out our junior positions here!

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