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Summer University stories: Feeling the vibe

By Mari-Liis Kariste, Summer University Project Manager, October 25, 2018

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When Ernesta Duglas was searching for the right place to kick-start her new IT career, she decided she wouldn’t settle for anything less than best practices and a top-notch atmosphere. She found both at Nortal’s Summer University.

“Nortal’s on the rise — you definitely feel that vibe here,” said the newly minted junior Java developer. “There are a lot of new people coming in and new projects starting. These are large-scale projects, which really motivates you because you’re part of some important solutions that will impact a lot of people.”

Duglas, who is based in Vilnius, said she had her pick of organizations to train with, but decided that Summer University would give her the strongest footing.

“I was looking for a company that has best practices. It’s really important in programming to learn to write clean code, to have a solid background you can rely on later when you grow, when you start to make solutions yourself,” she said.

“I see that the people working here are professionals, which is also inspiring.”

Vive la différence!

If Duglas sounds like a shrewd strategist, there’s good reason — she’d gained her fair share of life experience during a previously established career in economics and finance. Before studying IT, she’d spent four years working in a bank as a customer relationship manager.

At Summer University, she was surprised by the number of other recruits who, like her, had arrived by way of other professions.

“I didn’t expect so many people with stories similar to mine. I was inspired when I saw that Nortal wasn’t just looking for students, but also for people who have experience in different fields. My difference was actually considered an asset,” she said.

It wouldn’t be long before Duglas would be able to put her prior experience to use. After her initial training week in Tallinn, she began working on ongoing projects related to Elastic Path, an e-commerce system that’s partnered with Nortal. She quickly found that her background in customer relationship management helped her with customer inquiries.

“It can be difficult to explain things to a customer who doesn’t have broad IT knowledge. You have to really understand what they want, then dig into the code and give them answers in a clear way.”

Feeling at home

Interesting assignments and professionalism weren’t the only considerations for Duglas, however.

“I’ve worked in different companies and I know that atmosphere is important. You can like your job a lot, but if you don’t have anyone who can help you or anyone to talk to, you won’t stay long.”

For her part, Duglas says Nortal is ticking all the right boxes. “It’s going really well. I feel good at the company.”

She attributes a large part of her satisfaction to one of her supportive mentors at the Vilnius office, a woman who had arrived one year earlier and, like Duglas, had made the switch from a non-IT profession.

“She came from a different field as well and she made it. There are a lot more examples among my colleagues as well. That’s what really motivates me. They inspire me and prove that it’s doable.”

According to Duglas, the active social scene in the Vilnius office has also made it easy for her and the other Summer University recruits to feel welcome. She points to the breakfast get-togethers every Friday, the birthday celebrations and the newcomers’ party, where the newcomers have to organize a team-building event.

“I’m on the committee. There’s a group of enthusiasts, and I’m one of them,” she said. “I already feel like I’m part of the company, and that’s great.”

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