Winter University stories: where your skills are truly valued

For Kaspar, the opportunity to apply for a spot at the Nortal Winter University was very exciting – to the extent that he remembers walking around aimlessly while waiting for the acceptance call.


Kaspar Puhm, a Junior Software Developer at Nortal, is no stranger to the spotlight. During high school, he was active in theatre groups, and a couple of his friends went on to graduate from the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre. But he always felt that acting was simply an exciting hobby rather than a profession he’d like to pursue. Instead, he opted for one of the most popular specialities at that time – IT. However, it was an eight-year journey to get to where he is now.

“I’m quite an impatient person, and I guess during the first year at university, I wasn’t getting as much practical know-how about software development as I wanted, which made me hesitant in my choice of profession, and I decided to drop out,” Kaspar confesses. He didn’t quit altogether, though. Kaspar kept educating himself with the help of various online resources and even graduated from a Java development bootcamp, which meant giving up all his weekends for almost a year.

After graduating, the job hunt started, but to no avail. He sent out countless CVs and went to five interviews but got turned down every time. A chat with his friend from the bootcamp who, by that time, was already hired encouraged him to start building a simple web application to learn new technologies and gather knowledge regarding how everything fits together.

“It seemed like the perfect opportunity – for the first time, I could show off my knowledge and abilities without having to have a degree to prove it all.”
— Kaspar Puhm

Winter University graduate


Kaspar amped up his skills in Java development and started learning front-end development, concentrating on the Angular framework. After a while, Kaspar discovered Nortal’s Winter University program. “It seemed like the perfect opportunity – for the first time, I could show off my knowledge and abilities without having to have a degree to prove it all.” Kaspar emphasizes Winter University as an opportunity for people with all kinds of backgrounds. “It really brought back the sparkle to my eyes.”

Dedicating at few months to learning and using Angular really paid off when the test assignment arrived because part of it focused on that, and Kaspar felt comfortable with his abilities to solve it with ease. However, what he remembers most about the Winter University process is the suspense of waiting for the final decision. “It felt like this was my chance and my dream. I focused on this 100%”, he describes the importance of Winter University. After the whole process, it boiled down to one thing – waiting for the final call. “After hours of nervously walking around and constantly checking my phone, I finally got the call, and I can’t stress enough how happy and relieved I was after I got accepted!” he recalls.

Kaspar points out again that Nortal’s university program is one of the few places where you are sincerely evaluated for your technical skills. “Assessing hundreds of test assignments is hard work, but it really is the most honest way and gives a perfect opportunity for those who need a chance to prove themselves,” he says. “The process itself is very cool, the test assignments are fun, and the feedback is priceless.”

Kaspar got assigned to the lab team in Nortal’s eHealth project doing front-end development, which he admits scared him a bit at first. “But now, I’m grateful that I was given the chance to learn and evolve in something new; I really like it now, and it’s a project I want to bring to completion,” he says. “I also have a very strong mentor who is always available on the phone or in Teams and, with some assignments, has sat with me for hours. And when I had a question where he didn’t feel most competent, I always had the whole Nortal talent bank to turn to and get my answer.”

That is also what Kaspar likes best at Nortal – people always find time to help you and talk to you: “It makes you feel like you can easily set up a lunch with the CEO just to talk about matters close to your heart.”