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Winter University stories: a career turn that ended up closer to home than thought

Before joining Nortal, Eeva-Liisa had a career in medicine. After graduating from Winter University, she found herself back in the field, but in a whole new way.

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It is no wonder if colleagues go to Eeva-Liisa Veede, a Junior Software Developer at Nortal, for advice about relieving back pain. She has an MSc in physiotherapy and worked in a psychiatric clinic for five years. Eeva-Liisa focused on body awareness therapy, taking the newer route than regular back and hip pain problems. But working as a physiotherapist made her realize that it wasn’t something she wanted to do for the rest of her life. “I was stuck for quite some years, unable to figure out what to do with myself if I quit this profession,” she confesses. “But then I went on maternity leave, which gave me time to reflect on my true interests. Somehow, I ended up signing up for a 10-month Java bootcamp just to see what it was and if I’d like it. After the first few months, it was clear that it is something I would like to see myself doing in the future.”

Eeva-Liisa was not a stranger to IT. Growing up, she had older brothers who were on the computer a lot and taught her to do stuff ordinary people didn’t know how to do. “Like getting rid of the viruses I had downloaded myself,” she laughs. “But also building my own website in HTML.” But studying IT never crossed her mind before years later when on maternity leave.

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“It is one of the best programs in Estonia for juniors, and you can clearly feel that it has been developed over a long period of time; people have really put thought into it. "
— Eeva-Liisa Veede

Winter University graduate

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When she saw Nortal’s Winter University announcement on LinkedIn, it seemed like too good of a possibility not to apply. “It’s the best opportunity for beginners like me to join a strong and big company, where you are very well supported in the beginning to move up from the junior level,” Eeva-Liisa recons. “I thought that even when I don’t get in, it will be a good experience.”

Eeva-Liisa was instantly impressed with the professionalism, the event organization, and the clear communication. “I also really liked the fun way the test assignment was described and the visual methods for testing my code instantly,” she remembers. “It is one of the best programs in Estonia for juniors, and you can clearly feel that it has been developed over a long period of time; people have really put thought into it. I have a lot of good colleagues who have joined through Nortal’s Summer or Winter University. And many acquaintances who have tried several times to get in and gained a lot of good experiences through it that has helped them progress in their careers.”

After graduating from Winter University, Eeva-Liisa joined the eHealth team responsible for maintaining and developing information systems for major hospitals. “So I’m still working in the medical field in a way,” she smiles. She admits that because she had no IT background, it was initially pretty hard to get to work, but then again – having the previous experience of a medical worker, knowing the jargon and the work processes, helped her adjust quicker.

“I’m really glad that, although it was rough at first, I never lost the motivation or felt like I didn’t want to do this anymore – and with time, it all got easier,” Eeva-Liisa confesses. “It is also very clear that this job can never get boring; there is so much variety to it at Nortal.”

What Eeva-Liisa also likes about working at Nortal, and this is not as universal as one might think, is that employees are treated as human beings. “I have never felt like just somebody in a big system who is being squeezed of everything they have; I’ve always felt cared for, how I’m doing, and how my family is doing.”