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Winter University story: we love it when a plan comes together

Nortal’s Winter University graduate Kustu Künnapas knew for many years that one day he would try to get into Nortal’s university program. And then he did.

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Kustu Künnapas, a Junior Software Developer at Nortal, probably has the longest history with Nortal than any of the other juniors. When he was in the 8th grade, he came to stay with his relatives in Tallinn, and one day, one of them invited him to tag along to his office – incidentally, Nortal’s headquarters. “At once, I could feel that it was a very friendly and pleasant place to work,” Kustu recalls. “At the office, I saw a poster about the Nortal Summer University program, and right there and then, I decided that one day I am also going to apply to Nortal’s university program.”

Although Kustu moved from his little home island of Hiiumaa to the winter sports mecca of Otepää for his last three years at school because of his athletic habits, especially orienteering, he was already interested in IT. “It all started with my friends playing video games and getting me into it as well,” he remembers. “In 8th grade, I took a course from university studying the basics of programming and found Python, which suited me very well. After that, I created quite a few MOOCs and started using programming when organizing sporting events.” It turns out that orienteering has a lot of unoptimized tasks, which can be nerve-wracking when you have learned how to automate. So Kustu took his fresh knowledge and made his orienteering gigs easier through programming.

So, when it was time to go to university, he chose IT. However, he did consider briefly studying to be a lightning technician, his other hobby that he still occasionally practices. Until one day, he saw that Nortal was looking for new applicants for Winter University. Kustu set his old plan into motion – he applied.

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"I thought that even if I don’t pass, it will still be a learning opportunity for me and a valuable experience."
— Kustu Künnapas

Winter University graduate

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After sending in his application, he made a clever and calculated decision to study Java until he got the test assignment. His hunch paid off and made it easier for him to pass. Also, a big help – Googling! “I thought that even if I don’t pass, it will still be a learning opportunity for me and a valuable experience,” Kustu recalls. “I had nothing to lose, and there was always next year.”

After the test assignment came the group assignment, where he mostly gained people skills and had fun solving a problem as a team. The first week at work was full of workshops about cybersecurity, front-end development, streams, etc., which has benefited Kustu both in school and at work writing code. He remembers his beginning as a nice mix of independence and support.

“It is a great experience; challenge yourself!” he encourages everybody. “But also take time for the test assignment, prepare yourself, take it as a chance to evolve and acquaint yourself with some new principles.”

He also says that when working at Nortal, you always feel the support of your colleagues. “When you’re going through the lines and lines of code and find something, then you can always go and knock on the door of the person who wrote that piece and ask why they did it in that particular way – everybody is always happy to answer and help,” he vows. “But the most important thing is the impact I’m helping to create – I’m making life easier for a lot of doctors in a huge hospital, and that matters a lot to me.”