By Mari-Liis Kariste, Summer University Project Manager, March 4, 2019
Monika was no stranger to cross-border work when she came to Summer University in 2015. She had just finished a job interning at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, when a friend signed her up. Eventually being accepted and becoming part of Nortal’s Vilnius crew, she says, turned out to be a natural continuation of her cosmopolitan career path.
“In Lithuania, the projects aren’t local, they’re very international,” she explains. “If you’re into traveling like I am, it’s great to travel with work. You get to experience the local culture at its best because you hang out with people who work and live locally.”
Her early work at Nortal included an Elastic Path project that took her to Canada for a month, but the task she likes to talk about most is one she started about two years after joining the company. That venture involved building a cutting-edge system for Carnival Cruise Lines allowing ship passengers to order food and drinks from their smartphones.
“When I joined the Carnival project, I assumed the role of team lead, sometimes assisting our solutions architect. That was quite a challenge,” she says. One of the main aspects of the job was coordinating work being done by team members who were not only based in time zones from India to Seattle, but also operating in different languages and cultures.
“Since I was in the middle, I had to communicate with all sides. It was pretty fun, but also pretty difficult,” she says. “The process of figuring out how to work in this situation, the right order of doing things, how to reach agreements with everyone, getting everything tested and developed, that’s what interested me.”
In taking on the Carnival project, one of the trickier hurdles Monika says she faced was overcoming misgivings about her personal ability to fill the role of team lead. “When I joined Nortal, I had doubts in all my decisions, I wanted supervision and guidance as much as I could get.”
She felt encouraged, however, by the confidence in her expressed by her managers and other team members, saying: “They were pushing me to take on the role. When I was finally there by myself, all alone, I knew I needed to step up — and that’s what I did.
The fact that my managers and colleagues actually believed I could do it was pretty great. I gained a lot of experience and also the courage to do things.”
Now a mid-level java developer, Monika has since moved on to other Nortal projects. She’s still impressed by the high level of quality and expertise she finds within the company, and finds satisfaction in seeing the company grow. “Feeling that I’ve been part of the company’s growth and that my work has impacted that growth — that’s pretty rewarding.”
As for her own professional development, Monika’s managers are encouraging her to further build on her experience as team lead.
“They want me to pursue the team lead role and, eventually, also a tech lead role when I gain more technical experience,” she reveals, adding that she’s thinking along the same lines.
“I’ve always wanted to be somewhere in between development and leading communications — because I’m interested not only in the code but in the human aspects.”