Newbee’s view on Presta

First things first – a few facts about me – from pre-Presta life. I am 29 years old, have a masters degree in literature and this is my first job in the IT industry. Suffice to say, I had some worries and doubts about changing career, especially because, at first glance, it seemed like changing to a diametrically opposed career path. During my learning period, I’ve realized that there might be more similarities between IT and literature (especially conceptual ones) than one might think.

Nevertheless, while I was discovering similarities between my former and future profession, and felt my knowledge in IT was growing, I still had worries about my first employment – will I fit into the team; will my skills be enough; will people think that it’s unnatural to change profession when you are near 30? I am glad I can say that all those questions vanished almost immediately when I crossed Presta’s threshold. And here we go, a month later, although I am probably still overwhelmed with impressions I’ll try to summarize them.

One of the first things that caught my eye – nobody in Presta doesn’t seem to be in any danger of getting into a rut. Even most experienced developers are showing almost childlike joy on a daily basis. It doesn’t take much to feel that sweet endorphin rush, at least in our office – fixing some bugs, learning a cool new CSS trick, or finding a way to optimize existing project – all of that stuff will do.

Regarding knowledge, there is one thing in particular that doesn’t stop to amaze me in Presta – the absence of any kind of vanity related to the amount of knowledge that one possesses. There is something like Socratic wisdom (“I know that I know nothing”) that comes with years of programming. I think that’s because programming is evolving every day, and there is a vast amount of information and technologies that exist in this field. The more you know – the more you realize what you don’t know, like you’re on a never-ending voyage. Of course, that doesn’t mean that one doesn’t make significant progress during that journey; it only means that he/she is always aware of things that there are out there, that are yet to mastered, fields of knowledge yet to be conquered. I believe that it keeps you grounded, open-minded and curious for new things. At least that’s the impression I’ve got from Presta’s team.

And then, after four working days in Presta, I got a chance to be part of a team building trip to Drina. The first event that made an impact on me was picking up garbage bin that had fallen off the road and had been ruining otherwise impeccable landscape of Western Serbia. In addition to obvious – it was a nice thing to do and we felt good after doing it – one thought occured to me shortly afterwards: I want to adopt this kind of mindset.

Rescuing fallen trash bin.

When we arrived at Drinska bajka (Drina’s fairytale) I was stunned by the comfort of accommodation and amount of facilities. Although we enjoyed in all those amenities, the impression is that we would’ve also have a great time even without them. The only thing that’s essential for team building, as Vladeta mentioned to me, is that we have nice and cosy common area where we can spend quality time together. All the rest is just a cherry on top.

Indeed, most of the time we were engaged in team activities but none of them felt forced, something you must do. There was something for everyone – sports facilities, airgun shooting, skateboarding, cards, chess, challenge your stamina in ice-cold Drina… Not once did I feel like a ‘new guy’ in the sense that I had trouble to fit in. Presence of several former Presta employees helped me realize that, when it comes to Presta, thinking in terms of ‘new’ and ‘old’ can easily misguide you; “once Presta, always Presta” would be much more accurate description.

Team building nap

After returning from team building trip three more weeks really flew by. Actually, like with other important things in my life, working in Presta leaves me with ambiguous and paradoxical sense of time. On the one hand I learn so much every day and time is passing really quickly so I have feeling that I’ve been working here only for a few days; on the other hand everything and everyone seems so familiar that I feel like I’m working here for a year, at least. Ok, enough contemplating on concept of time, here are a few more observations that I’ve caught during my month in Presta:

There’s no rigid hierarchy – there is a structure; there are no strict orders based on raw power or seniority – there is logical distribution of responsibility based on conversation and specifics of current project; if your brain feels fried because you’re stuck with some problem you can always engage in conversation about daily topics (for most of us, last month’s weeks would start with discussions about GoT final episodes – and yeah, we didn’t like it either) or internal jokes and teasings, where there isn’t much formal politeness but everything said is always taken in good humour; and when you recharged your energy you can put your headphones, play favourite background music and return to the beautiful world of colored letters of your code. Last but not least, there’s nothing uniform in Presta’s team – everybody’s personality (with all quirkiness that comes along) is respected, even nurtured. We are united in the goal to make a quality product for our customers, but we’re all different in temper, personal interests and habits. It pleases me to see that in Presta there’s appreciation for everyone’s character and that differences are seen as valuable assets that each of us bring to the team, making it stronger and richer.

Leisure time at office

P.S. Perhaps you noticed that I didn’t mention anyone by name. That’s because I was trying to focus on general impressions as writing about individuals would make this blog post far longer, and it’s length is already beyond good measure (it seems that I can’t completely abandon my ‘literature roots’). Nevertheless, this post would feel crippled without mentioning one special member of our team – lovely dog Lea – who also accepted me at the first sniff and who had her 8th (56th in human years) birthday during my first month at Presta. Happy birthday, girl, wishing you all the best!

Lea is watching