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At Optis we are always looking for talented developers to join our team. While our junior developers usually join us after a successful internship, most of our medior and senior profiles have built up diverse and interesting histories before they joined the Optis Family. To highlight some of these interesting stories we decided to interview a few of our valued team members.

Today, we’re talking with Tom Smeets, medior full-stack developer at Optis. Tom is one of our latest hires, who joined us only three months ago, and today he’s working at Toyota Motor Europe redesigning one of their crucial service sales applications. Today, he will be talking about why he decided to work at Optis, and how he compensated his lack of professional experience with his passion for growing peppers. (yes, really!)

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The IT Itch

“I’m somewhat of an unusual profile compared to most colleagues my age,” Tom begins, “Though I finished a degree in applied informatics, I actually ended up in the food industry and worked in a non-IT position for about a decade.” Though Tom enjoyed his work, he always felt an itch to return to the world of IT. “About 5 years ago I decided it was time to make a change, and that’s when I landed my first programming job at my previous employer”

“I’m still grateful to them for giving me a shot,” Tom stresses, “but the company was specialised in maintaining old mainframe systems, and I felt that I wanted to work with more modern technologies. That’s when I decided to mark my availability on LinkedIn and start looking for another job”

While like any developer, Tom’s inbox was quickly flooded with messages, he found that Optis really stood out. “My first contact was with Mathi, one of the senior developers at Optis and we immediately hit it off.” Optis was actually looking for someone with a little more experience, but Tom was able to convince them with his eagerness to learn and his practical experience.

“Funny story actually, I like to grow hot peppers as a hobby, and to make my life easier I built an application to automate the irrigation and environmental control processes. Though I’m more of a backend guy, I even built a dashboard and systems control frontend. I presented my application during the job interview and they were really impressed by my work. I feel this really convinced them that I was more than just the sum of my previous experience.”

The Perfect Learning Environment

Tom was quickly able to prove his eagerness to learn during his first month at Optis. “I spent my first month pretty much learning full time: I attended some of the internal tech talks, followed courses on Udemy and learned a lot by talking to some of my more senior colleagues. Them always being available for questions really made me feel like part of the team as soon as I joined.”

After about a month of working on brushing up his skills, Optis found the perfect match for Tom: Toyota needed additional manpower on a service sales application, joining Mathi, the same guy who first reached out to Tom and convinced him to come talk with Optis. “After about a month of theory, nothing beats working on an actual project to really take my skills to another level.” Tom proudly states, “I learned so much from Mathi, not only on a technical level, but also about working in an Agile Scrum team.”

Technology-wise, Tom got exactly what he asked for. At Optis, employees receive an education budget which they are free to spend according to their interests. “I’m currently working with a Spring Boot backend and React frontend, which is exactly the kind of technology I want to work with. Though I used to be more of a backend guy, I really like to work with React, and this project has given me the opportunity to advance my skills!”

Future Plans

“It might sound cheesy, but I really feel Optis has given me a place where I feel like I belong. I want to develop myself further on a technical level, and Optis gives me plenty of opportunity to do just that. In the future I would like to take on a more architectural role as well, and I feel that thanks to the help of my colleagues, these skills will take no time at all to master.”

Interest piqued by Tom’s story? Well, we’re hiring! Check out some of our careers, or simply reach out to us via the contact form or through LinkedIn, and who knows? Maybe your story as one of our latest hires will be next!

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