Summer University stories: Welcome to the real world

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


In Belgrade, Luka Petkovic was finishing his studies and looking for a promising way into the IT job market. Stumbling upon Nortal’s Summer University ended up being his lucky break.

Sometimes a seemingly insignificant event can end up life changing. For Luka Petkovic, it was noticing the Summer University announcement, and his snap decision to fire off an email.

“I was just googling around and saw the ad,” he said. “Primarily, I was excited to see that such a serious company was looking for a back-end intern.

“Also, I snooped around a bit and saw that Nortal was working on government and finance, which really intrigued me. I was already interested in this stuff, especially considering how overly complicated tax systems are in ex-Yugoslav countries,” he said.

Petkovic admits he didn’t have high hopes when he sent the email. He didn’t think he’d even get a response. “But here I am, so everything worked out!

Smooth, beyond expectations

Summer University would be Petkovic’s first IT experience outside academia. He was naturally apprehensive going into the initial training week, but he found that settling in and finding his groove at Nortal were quick and easy.

“At first, I didn’t know what to expect and I was worried it was going to be too hard to handle. In the end though, everything was manageable,” he said. “The people were friendly and — this is coming from the first guy to be cynical about these things — the after-lecture activities were surprisingly fun.”

The second week in, Petkovic joined an ongoing project in Belgrade as a junior developer. Despite the heavy load of reading required, he said the integration came off without a hitch. “It was really smooth. Our manager was great. We could ask anything and she always gave us good insights and tips.”

Petkovic says that fitting in with the team also went remarkably well. “The people here are really chill. I wasn’t expecting there to be such a diverse cast of characters. There’s one guy who’s really tall and plays basketball, there’s a genius type from one of the best colleges in Belgrade, and there’s another guy who’s into music and is always jovial… Overall, it’s been a really awesome experience.”

Career launch

Petkovic’s team was working on Nortal’s tax management and revenue collection solution for the Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS). It’s an interesting project, he says, but it’s winding down. He expects that whatever project comes next for the Belgrade team will give him experience that will underpin his nascent IT career.

“That will be a major opportunity to get involved. I’m going to start working on something from scratch and I’ll be able to see the development stages from beginning to end. That will be really beneficial for me.”

For other IT hopefuls considering a life-changing leap into the professional world, Petkovic offers this bit of advice: “If you want to go into software engineering and you see an opportunity here, take it. Trust me, you won’t regret it.”

You’ll definitely have your hands full working and learning once you’re in Summer University, he says, but “just be cool, take it slow and everything will fall into place.”

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