Embarking on a career as a Junior Developer can be both exhilarating and challenging. We sat down with Leonardo and Vasco, two bright young minds at Focus BC who joined the company just a few months ago.
Even though Focus BC’s office is in sunny Lisbon, these younglings are both working remotely from Évora. Let’s explore what it's like to take those first steps into the world of coding at Focus BC, through the eyes of our newest additions to the team.
1- What motivated you to join Focus BC as a Junior Developer?
Leonardo: I interned at Focus BC in 2020, around the same time as Vasco, and the vibrant atmosphere and camaraderie among team members drew us in. Despite being physically distant, we felt a strong sense of belonging. When the company reached out, I was excited to accept the challenge.
2- What was the onboarding process when you started the internship?
Vasco: Due to COVID, our onboarding was remote. Therefore, we never visited the office in Lisbon. The team was incredibly supportive, and understanding of our commitments as students. Flexibility was never an issue.
3- How has been the experience of working remotely?
Leonardo: This being my first professional experience, it's hard to compare it to anything else, but remote work offers personal flexibility. Even though I don't have kids, I can imagine it being a significant advantage. The company also organizes gatherings frequently, which I find valuable.
Vasco: I had a prior remote experience in the past, but in just six months here, I've visited the Focus BC office more than I did in a year at my previous workplace. A hybrid model suits me well. I am a little far from the office, however, the happy and cool environment in the office makes me want to go there from time to time to add a refreshing change to my work routine and connect with my peers. So, if someone wants to be at the office, there are opportunities!
"I am a little far from the office, however, the happy and cool environment in the office makes me want to go there from time to time to add a refreshing change to my work routine and connect with my peers." Vasco Barnabé, Junior Developer at Focus BC
4- What was it like working on your first project here?
Leonardo: In my internship project I worked with another student on a dashboard for LiS statistics. When I first joined the company it was a real shocker being told I'd be working on a project with UEFA. It’s a reeeeally big project which kinda overwhelmed me at first, but with guidance from the team, I learned to take it one baby step at a time.
Vasco: In my case, I contributed to Simulations on Mapify during my internship. Now, I'm working on UEFA as well, giving me a diverse understanding of the company's perspectives. To this day, It still feels like a huge project, but I feel great with experienced colleagues ready to share their knowledge.
5- What are the main challenges of being a Junior Developer at Focus BC?
Leonardo: For me, it's the extensive technological stack, something I wasn't exposed to much during university. Despite being here for a relatively short time, I already feel equipped to tackle new challenges because of some of the use cases we worked on.
Vasco: Even though some team members specialize in certain areas, we function as a versatile team, able to step up no matter the topic in question. For our development as Junior Developers, this is very important, learning a little bit of everything.
6- What surprised you the most about working here?
Leonardo: During my interview, Ricardo emphasized that everyone here is a responsible adult, accountable for their actions, putting their trust in us. It surprised me that this isn't just a mantra but a reality in the company. Everything they told me during the interview was spot-on with the day-to-day life at the company and I genuinely believe it will remain this way in the future.
Vasco: I agree with Leonardo. This is a big positive aspect of working here. The level of trust the company places in its employees is impressive. I think It keeps the team motivated.
Leonardo: Another surprise was the open discussions between people. During the Christmas dinner, work was hardly discussed. It reflects how everyone separates their work and personal selves which is great.
"Everything they told me during the interview was spot-on with the day-to-day life at the company and I genuinely believe it will remain this way in the future." Leonardo Catarro, Junior Developer at Focus BC
7- How would you describe the company culture?
Leonardo: Everything we've discussed before paints a pretty accurate picture of the culture. Let me think...
Vasco: Your manager and colleagues genuinely respect your time, and want to make sure you're well-rested. There's a keen understanding that being physically and mentally healthy is crucial to doing your best work.
Leonardo: Transparency is another crucial aspect of the culture. Whether it's in our Bi-Weekly meetings, where we get updates on projects, or the Quarterly meetings with financial data, the Managing Partners share both the struggles and the vision for the future.
8- In your opinion, what sets Focus BC apart as a workplace for Junior Developers?
Leonardo: The fact that we're a smaller company makes communication easier. The culture, as we've discussed, is also a huge plus. The projects are also incredibly interesting, and it makes me proud to say I work with UEFA when talking to friends and family. I feel very fortunate in that way.
Vasco: The projects are technically exciting. When I first worked on Mapify, I was intrigued by location intelligence. The variety of projects, from smart cities to football events, is fascinating. On another note, I noticed the people who were at the company when I joined in 2021 are still here, which shows the deep bond of the team. I believe that also helps new hires feel like they belong because there are experienced members ready to make you feel at home.
"The people who were at the company when I joined in 2021 are still here, which shows the deep bond of the team. I believe that also helps new hires feel like they belong because there are experienced members ready to make you feel at home." Vasco Barnabé, Junior Developer at Focus BC
9- What kind of online resources have been key for your role as a Junior Developer?
Leonardo: ChatGPT haha.
Vasco: Yeah, ChatGPT and Stack Overflow. I use ChatGPT when I have difficulties searching for something specific on Google. It understands my questions and provides simple, direct answers.
Leonardo. Same here! For code reviews, we already have our internal PR reviewer police. I also use ChatGPT to quickly understand the difference between concepts or terminologies.
10- What programming languages and frameworks have been crucial to your role at Focus BC?
Vasco: For me, it’s more Angular with Typescript and .NET with C#.
11- Any other advice for young graduates looking for their first Junior Developer role?
Leonardo: My advice is to gather as much information as you can about the company and the job opportunity. Money isn't everything. There are roles that pay well, but without guidance and personal and professional development, it might not be the best fit.
Vasco: When I started looking, I was focused on jobs centered around specific technologies. Today, I believe you should try a few things first. You have to be open. Mastering specific technologies should come with time, but the foundation must lie in understanding processes and how things work in general.
12- Looking ahead, how do you envision your growth and career path within Focus BC?
Leonardo: I think and often comment with my parents, it feels like Focus BC was the right choice. I want to keep growing at Focus BC. Everything I've seen so far suggests that it's not just a great company to start but also to stay long-term, like many of my colleagues.
Vasco: I look at my colleagues as examples to follow. If we maintain a growth mindset, the company will continue presenting opportunities. Regarding work-life balance, which we've discussed frequently, it's excellent, giving me another reason to see a long-term future here. Right now, I don't see a better place to stay and grow.
Leonardo: I'd love to jump into mobile development here, something I've discussed with Bruno Malveiro. It's been an interest of mine since university.
Vasco: For me, I'm interested in learning more about the deep infrastructure behind our products. Technologies like Terraform and Shell, which I have actually explored a bit in my free time. Now it's harder, as I spend my free time exploring more about the challenges I'm facing at work right now.
"When I started looking, I was focused on jobs centered around specific technologies. Today, I believe you should try a few things first. You have to be open." Vasco Barnabé, Junior Developer at Focus BC
We hope you had a nice time learning more about Leonardo and Vasco's stories. The early stages of a professional career can profoundly shape one's approach to work, and we aspire to equip emerging professionals with the skills and experiences they need to thrive in their fields.