Couple that codes together stays together. We found a senior and junior developer duo, working remotely from Zagreb and let them debug some field questions for us. They both work from German IT companies, Klaudija being the junior frontend developer, and her fiancé Antonio senior iOS developer. Check out their daily behind-the-scenes routine, dev struggles on job interviews and find out when to use cutting edge modern tools or stick with your good old workflow.
What are some common misconceptions about your job?
Klaudija/Antonio: Common misconceptions regarding developers we know of are they’re considered asocial and with highly emphasized communication issues. But as our profession became more popular, plenty of people transferred to the IT sector so you are able to find all kinds of characters within the industry. Also, another common misconception is about the degree, the junior position doesn`t require a college education and Masters’s degree, it’s essential to be able to learn independently and to continuously upgrade existing knowledge. Also, development is not only a men’s industry, there are so many great women developers out there.
When looking for career advancement, what skills should a young developer learn?
Klaudija/Antonio: Practice as much as you can and encounter current technologies, but also ensure you understand the basics. This will later be essential to grasp the entire software structure. As you progress in your career, social skills become more relevant, you need to be able to communicate and ask the right questions. Software is created for people so it’s crucial to understand what people want and joining your technical knowledge and social skills can help you with that. Real good teamwork skills are very important. From our experience, this is often neglected by many developers.
Technical competence aside, what are the main soft skills to become an expert at your job?
Klaudija: Communication and asking for help. I’ve got the impression that there’s a stigma attached when turning to your colleagues and saying you don’t know or understand something. Development is a teamwork effort and learning to connect with your team is one of the most important things.
Antonio: Often seniors don’t know how to emphasize important things from less important ones. This can be a problem, especially if it’s a complex project with a lot of people involved
How do you manage your relationship seeing you have similar remote jobs and live under the same roof?
Klaudija: We complement and support one another. It was easier for me as a junior developer to have a senior I can talk to about the dev problems and who helped me whenever I got stuck. We are not competitive with each other, we are partners. We have learned to carry out together because we`re always with each other, whether working from home or coworking space or traveling a lot.
How come you decided to work for German companies? Did you try to find a job in Croatia or were you looking for an abroad one from the beginning?
Antonio: At the age of 21, after I got my Bachelor’s degree at Zagreb`s Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing, I continued my studies abroad, and graduated in Portugal, and by then I knew I didn’t want to work for a Croatian company. Primarily because I consider it a small market and there were many more opportunities presented to me out there. With the option of remote work, it’s not even necessary to change the place of residence to work for a foreign company and salaries are much higher than in Croatia. For me, working for a German company is great, I like the employer-employee relationship, the work culture is completely different from ours and the salaries are at the level they should be.
Klaudija: I changed the industry, applied for an internship after I quit my job, and got it at an agency in Zagreb. After 2 months, they decided to hire only through a student contract. It all turned out to be a waste of time and I was disappointed though I didn’t initially run from finding a job in Croatia. After that, I decided to look for a job abroad and we were even ready to move to another country if necessary. Nonetheless, with a combination of luck and effort, I found a remote job. I believe that you can find really good companies in Croatia, but honestly, from now on I would only look for a job abroad.
Check out our CEO article on Netokracija and find out the state of Croatian IT sector as well as how you can work remotely and satisfy your personal and professional needs
What is your typical day like working remotely as a developer in Zagreb?/ Can you describe your typical working day?
Klaudija/Antonio: After our morning walk with the dog, we start our workday around 7:30 AM., either we go to the coworking space or work from home. We are more focused in the morning so this is the time when we do the majority of our assignments, after 12 PM. We just solve easier tasks. We never work after 4 p.m. so we`re trying to squeeze all the work commitments up until then and keep it as productive and structured as possible. Self-discipline and organization are essential for working remotely.
Where do developers mostly look for open job positions?
Klaudija/Antonio: We searched LinkedIn, Glassdoor app, Facebook groups like IT Jobs Croatia, and remote work sites like Weworkremotely, Remotes and RemoteOK.
What are the most important factors to consider when choosing a new job?
Klaudija/Antonio: For us, It’s important that we agree with the company values. A healthy work environment is crucial. I have a lot of trust in my company and It is essential that I feel comfortable. It is necessary that both boss and colleagues ask each other questions and work together in the true sense of the word. We want to believe in the company and the products we are making. We prefer working remotely, as well. Plus, for us it’s important that our income is matching our knowledge and work.
What do you think is more profitable: working as a freelance or full-time developer inside an agency?
Antonio: As a freelancer, you`re paid by the hour and inevitably can make more money. However, freelance work is not easy to maintain because projects change and contracts end. For us, this is it`s biggest flaw. As an agency employee, it’s less stressful because you don’t have concerns about paying your bills in the long run. It all depends on a person’s priorities. Personally, I`d rather be an agency employee, although I could probably earn my yearly salary in six months as a freelancer. But the peace of mind is more important to me. I can dedicate myself to other interests outside work and don’t have to worry about my next contract, or whether my client will pay me on time or not. On the other hand, as an agency employee, I can always squeeze a small freelance job on the side if I want to.
Klaudija: It comes down to whether you want to accumulate more money or be in a secure position.
Do you think we can expect an even higher demand for web developers in the next five years?
Klaudija/Antonio: I don’t think that industry is going down very soon. Each sector uses some type of software and maintenance is required every year, at least some features. There may not be exponential growth, but I believe there will be growth.
When can you call yourself a senior developer?
Antonio: I would say that you should call yourself a senior once you have a technical understanding of the entire structure of certain software when you can set up the architecture on your own, align business requirements with technical requirements and when you can guide and mentor younger colleagues. Many developers call themselves seniors because they have very strong technical skills. However, I often meet seniors that do everything on their own, separately and even stubbornly, and not for the team or for the guidance of younger colleagues, which is a very big problem. Software work is teamwork and a true senior developer should be a team player who understands the interpersonal relationships as well as the technical aspect of work. A person who can support their colleagues and, in cooperation with other senior developers, communicate and develop software and not just be a technically strong individual.
Do you like to use cutting-edge modern tools that come with some bugs and quirks OR do you prefer traditional, but proven and tested programming languages?
What kind of job interview scenario would you conduct if you would be the one hiring new developers?
Antonio: I`m actually preparing job interviews for candidates. Our process starts with a general interview where we meet the candidates and ask questions about the technology ecosystem, specifically iOS, and let the candidates show what they had worked on in their past projects. Having your own independent project in the portfolio and explaining how you executed it is a big plus. The second stage is to send a program assignment and the final stage is an in-depth interview where we ask technical questions specifically for our needs and the projects we are currently working on. In my opinion, the most important part of the interview is the first step where I can properly meet the person I would potentially work with because a candidate can be technically very good, but we have to be able to properly communicate. Even if they don’t accomplish this program assignment perfectly, that doesn’t mean they can’t learn and be competent in a month or two as they delve into that product. In development, you can solve a problem in multiple ways so asking candidates generic questions is a partial and not efficient way to evaluate a person. We’re both against automated tests because they are boxy and don’t estimate enough factors.
Klaudija: I think it’s very important for employers to tell potential employees precisely what their job position would include. In the interview for my current job, the employer talked about the company, the team and the products and showed me exactly what they were doing. I guided them through a project that I worked on independently, answered their questions and they further explained to me what project I was going to be potentially working on, what I would need to know and what I should learn. I applied for a position that wasn’t even conceived for junior developers and I think they eventually hired me because they were able to relate to me. I think finding someone who fits the company and with whom you can easily cooperate is much harder than someone who is technically savvy.