Internal recruitment in Metapack. From customer service to coding – Magda’s story

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Internal recruitment in Metapack. From customer service to coding – Magda’s story

Time for new challenges? At Metapack, we provide our employees with various development opportunities, including participation in internal recruitment.

How do Metapackers take advantage of this opportunity and how does the job change process work? Meet Magda, who after two years as a Customer Implementation Specialist joined the Sharks development team as a Software Engineer.

Magda, please tell us briefly how your adventure with Metapack started?

I joined Metapack in May 2019, i.e. two and a half years ago. A little by accident, to be honest. My friend once passed by the office and remembered that she heard somewhere that there is a very good company here. She recommended a website to me, I found job offers there, applied and luckily I made it. Destiny, you could say (laughs).

You applied for the position of Customer Implementation Specialist, i.e. a department that deals with customer service and responds to their needs. What was your professional experience then?

I had little experience. When I submitted my CV to Metapack, I was studying IT at the University of Zielona Góra. I was in my sophomore year then. Earlier I finished media logistics in Warsaw, but it was something completely different. At that time, I was also working as a store manager in the Focus Mall shopping center in Zielona Góra. It was a typical student job. So you can say that I came here from a completely different industry.

I had no experience in business customer service, but I had a university background. I explored technical issues during my studies.

Even so, the phone rang. Did this surprise you?

I was shocked, but mostly I was very pleased and happy to be able to try at all. I believed that my field of study would help me, but I also knew that English was very important at Metapack. Especially in the implementation, where we talk to British clients on a daily basis.

These were my strengths and they probably outweighed the decision to contact me. I did not worry about the rest, because I know myself and I know that I learn quickly. If I want something, I work hard to achieve it and learn new responsibilities.

These are the “soft” skills that we also evaluate during the recruitment process and which certainly influenced the final hiring decision. Willingness to work is an important factor for us as tools are something we are able to deliver during onboarding.

It’s true. For me, a person who came to Metapack with no experience of working with a business client, onboarding was of great importance. During this introduction, I received so much information that, within a short time, I felt quite confident in what I had to do. These three months were really important.

We’ll talk more about onboarding, but before we get down to it, let’s go back to the beginning for a moment. How was the recruitment process from the moment the HR department contacted you until you received a positive answer?

My recruitment process actually had three stages. The first was a casual telephone conversation with a person from the HR department. There were technical questions, but most of all we talked about my experience, future plans and successes. We also spoke English for a while. After this conversation, I was invited to the company, where I met with team leaders and also a person from HR. We discussed similar topics about experience, my current responsibilities and projects, but there were definitely more technical issues. I remember that I left the company very happy because the conversation was really nice. I was quite surprised by this fact, because it was a job interview, which usually is quite a stressful situation. Not in this case, though.

So I left with a good attitude and high hopes and soon I received information from Metapack that the interview was positive and I was invited to another one – this time with the implementation team. I don’t know why, but I was even more stressed out about the meeting with the team than with the leaders. Maybe because these were the people I was supposed to work with. Fortunately, this meeting was also enjoyable, we talked about what work and a typical working day look like. They asked me how I like to work. You could say that we already started getting to know each other a bit and we liked each other, because a moment later I got a job offer.

You took it and started the three-month implementation period. What did it look like?

During the first months, I definitely had to learn the industry. From basic concepts, to the entire shipping process that everyone seems to be dealing with, but no one really thinks about it. You order a package, it comes to your home, so you are happy because you have something new. But all the logistics that goes with it, what actually happens during the shippment, is something that you don’t think much about.

So this has to be learned and there is a lot of information to process. I can’t say I wasn’t scared when I first saw all the documents, all the couriers I needed to learn (laughs). But it is assimilable. It also comes with time, of course, but the knowledge base and the number of specialists we have around make it possible for us to learn it. It takes a little effort, but if you’re determined, you can quickly feel confident in operating between our systems.

So the first months were about reading a lot of documentation, but also learning about business communication with the client, because it’s a slightly different form of communication than the natural one. And then my first cases started.

Are you surprised that this onboarding is prepared in such detail? Have you come across such a prepared implementation path?

No, I haven’t. Onboarding in Metapack is very well structured and very detailed. Did it surprise me? I have to say: ‘no’. When I saw the specifics of this industry, I knew it was simply necessary. You can’t go without it. To work well, you need to know these systems, you need to know this job. Otherwise, a person would get lost very quickly and not know what they were doing at all.

You mentioned the first cases, i.e. real projects with a commercial client. Tell me what exactly did you do as a Customer Implementation Specialist?

In the Customer Implementation team, I was responsible for handling projects that our clients brought to us. These could either be changes to their current systems, to their configuration, they could be new configurations or rules that the system has to take into account when allocating packages in their systems. The scope of our service is very large and covers practically everything that the client expects, of course, if it is possible to be done.

What did you like the most about this job?

I was always drawn to the technical tasks, so I liked everything about testing. Or when it was necessary to write some short scripts or new rules for the client. Something more than just clicking through the system.

What were the biggest challenges you faced at work?

I think the biggest challenge here is communication. Not only are we dealing with a business client, but also with a foreign client. So there is a language barrier, and even if you know the language, there is still this barrier to talk freely. At the beginning, I was also stressed about it, before every conversation, but it comes with experience and after the first year I saw a huge difference when it comes to my language skills.

The other kind of challenge was learning to say ‘no’. Or ‘I don’t know, but I’ll find out later’. This is also hard.

What advice would you give to people who are constantly working on communication skills? What helped you to make communication more efficient, more effective and friendlier also for you?

At the beginning, I always told myself that we are the ones that speak the foreign language, not them. So the fact that we speak English is a big plus and even if we make some minor grammatical or linguistic mistakes, 90% of them will not even notice it. Of course, getting ready for these first meetings helps a lot. It’s always a good idea to prepare an agenda, write down points that we know we need to mention, some typical industry vocabulary that we are not sure about. I always wrote down these elements so that I had them at hand. It’s like that at the beginning. After a while, it turns out that we need less and less of these elements until we come to the point that we only need a short preparation about the topic of the conversation, and speaking comes quite naturally.

Did anything surprise you? After the interviews, you probably had some idea about this job. Was it confirmed when you joined the team?

I think I was surprised by the number of projects one client can produce per week. The level of detail that needs to be maintained in order to run it all smoothly. I was expecting one project for a longer period of time, and these were short tasks for which we had smaller timelines. But there was nothing wrong with that. I like changes and the fact that I can do something new every day and learn something new was an advantage.

What would you advise a person who would like to join the Customer Implementation team? What should they pay attention to?

Once again, the language. It is really the basis and a great help due to the documentation and communication with the client. It is also worth learning the technical aspects, getting to know a bit of SQL. Of course, you can read on our website what our systems are about, because even basic information helps later at work. And come with an open mind, know that you will have to learn a lot.

You spent two years with Customer Implementation, that’s a lot of time. When did you start thinking about developing towards programming?

I dared to think about it when I started writing an engineering thesis, i.e. when I was finishing my studies. When I got my diploma, I thought that since I have the basics and I can see that I am programming more freely, it’s time to move on to what I would like to do.

But the idea of ​​direction was much earlier?

Yes, from the beginning of my first studies I knew that I was drawn towards the technical field. But only now could I really afford it.

What was your programming experience when you started the internal recruitment for the position of a programmer?

The first thing was my diploma. My experience was what I gained while working at Customer Implementation. Within two years, I got to know the entire system practically inside out. I also got to know the tools that are used here, i.e. SQL, Soap. I also read a little more about methodologies, about the theoretical foundations of programming, because studies teach practice, and a little less theory. So I slowly started to prepare myself for this direction.

And after hours? Have you had the opportunity to carry out any projects for yourself or for someone else?

I wrote a program for my mum to help her issue invoices. It was a small business invoice management program. It was quite a big project, so I worked on it for a while. But I also did a lot of small projects, also those that were useful for me here at work, for example a tool for converting files from one format to another or for test automation. These were additional jobs that I did to make my work easier and I also gained experience thanks to it.

For sure it also made an impression on the guys from the implementation department. And what was the recruitment for the development department like?

This recruitment was a bit shorter. I saw the advertisement on our internal network and applied by submitting my CV. I had the first general interview with the HR department, I was told what to expect and what does internal recruitment look like. Then my resume was passed over to the development guys and I was invited for an interview.

Since we are in a pandemic time, this conversation took place via Zoom. There were team and department leaders at the interview, they grilled me technically and non-technically (laughs). We talked a bit about what work looks like, how I see it, how they see it, what I already know, what else I have to learn. After this conversation, I was informed that they would be happy to accept me, and then there were negotiations on the date of the transition. It was a matter that the leaders of our departments had to agree on. It turned out that I moved faster than I thought, because in May 2021. I joined the Sharks development team.

You say they grilled you. Were there any questions that surprised you?

I was positively surprised by the questions about my project. I realized that someone actually looked at it and appreciated it. Besides, nothing surprised me too much. It was a typical interview for a technical position, so it was obvious that there were some technical questions, some questions about my skills, and we spoke some English too.

You also had a chance to see a second onboarding in a different departament that does it in a completely different way. How do you rate it? Can you compare these onboardings?

What was funny about my second onboarding was that it was so hybrid. I came with two years of experience from a different department, but I was working on exactly the same product than before. So things like the structure of the database, the database itself, which is heavily emphasized during onboarding, was something I already knew. So these issues were directed a bit differently in my case.

Apart from that, everything – just like with the first onboarding – was very systematic. Here, too, I got the whole list of issues and we went through each element in turn. I always received feedback and I could always count on my team and they were happy to help me.

You have been in the new team for six months now. How do you like what you are doing? Is everything you heard during the recruitment true?

It’s really great. Mainly thanks to the team leader, with whom we all get along really well. There is something new every day, some new challenge. We introduce newer and newer solutions, we must keep up with it. But this is what I like, the dynamics of work. We work on new technologies and new tools that are worth getting to know. I am still learning and I think that I will always learn, but I can also say that I am already an independent worker, I do tasks myself, I do not need someone to guide me by the hand.

How would you split your current working time? How much time do you program and how much time do you spend doing other tasks?

This is a very difficult question. Whether it’s programming or scripting in SQL, we spend quite a lot of time testing these solutions. We want what we send out to be of the best quality. In percentage, I really can’t say. Most of it, however, is a programmer’s job, no matter in what technology.

You mentioned that you are learning all the time and you still have a lot of knowledge to master. Do you do it during work or do you learn after hours?

Both. At work, we have quarterly goals that are there for us to develop and for that there is a designated time during work. But it is also worth spending some time after work, reading some books or making a smaller project for yourself. It is very expanding.

What do you use to gain new knowledge? What sources could you recommend to beginners?

For the beginners, the Internet is a great source of knowledge, you just need to know where to look. In Metapack, for example, we have access to the Linkedin Learning platform, where there are various courses, including video courses. I liked it very much when I was still in the implementation department. I listened to recordings for beginners, advanced users, or for specific frameworks. I would recommend this to begin with. I like practice, so I recommend that you just come up with a simple project. Start writing. Then you can research solutions, libraries that can help – this is how you absorb new things.

You also mentioned that you can use various new technologies at work. What specific tools do you use and do you think they actually help you in your daily work?

The use of Docker helps us in testing. We can set ourselves an environment where we can test solutions without worrying about any complications for our clients. We have Postman, SoapUI that help us create scenarios, test automation.

What does the development team look like? What people does it consist of and how do you work in such a team with such a division of roles?

We have 6 people in the Sharks team. We have a leader, Marek, we have Business Analyst, Gosia, and there are four programmers, including me. We do not have QA, so we try to test and check our solutions ourselves. I have a very good team. The collaboration is great and the amazing thing is that you can always reach out to someone. I think that’s also why the teams at Metapack are working so well. We share our work and knowledge. When someone learns new solutions, they pass it on to others. We can count on the support of the leader. So we have everything one would like to have in the team.

As you know, the pandemic has changed a lot in Metapack. Remote work has influenced teams and the work culture that we have developed over the years. What is it like now, after two years of the pandemic? Do you still notice these changes?

Looking at the beginning of the pandemic, we really needed to return to the office after the first month of remote work. We didn’t feel like sitting at home in isolation anymore. After two years, however, we got used to it and it has many advantages. The downside, of course, is that we don’t see each other that often. Lots of people have already been hired during the pandemic, and the last time I was in the office, I realized that I saw some Metapackers for the first time, not via Zoom, not via the computer.

It’s pretty amazing when you think about it. But you have to adapt. We are very happy that we now have the opportunity to work, at least partially, from the office. We meet there so we don’t forget what we look like (laughs). To integrate a bit, talk, go for a coffee in the kitchen. However, I think that remote work after two years has become normal for us.

As a team, have you developed your own rules or solutions so that remote work does not affect the effectiveness of your work?

We definitely need a little more meetings now. Before, we could just lean out from behind the desk to ask about specific things. Now we have to make a call. So we have regular Zoom meetings where we do status updates. We discuss what we are currently doing and what still needs to be done. But this work is quite individual, so we manage to work completely efficiently from home.

What could you advise people who want to change their career path? You yourself moved from the department where you had contact with the client to the position of a programmer. This is a big change, it may cause a lot of stress and it is often the fear that Metapackers face. What would you tell them?

First of all, I would say ‘don’t worry’. I had this fear, too, and practically until I started working in the new team, I was terrified of what could happen to me. What if it doesn’t work out? Maybe I should have stayed in my old team, where everything was OK? These are the biggest fears, but you have to remember that if you went through this conversation and passed it positively, there is nothing to be afraid of. The recruiters really check very carefully whether you know everything that is important. If this is what you want to do, what develops your skills, then you have to try.

Finally, let’s talk about Metapack as a company. What is it for you? What makes us different or what do we do that is important to you from the employee’s point of view?

I really appreciate the fact that we can cooperate with the whole world. We have contact with other cultures – in the general sense of the word, but also with working cultures. This is a big advantage.

It is also important to me how we all work together in the company, what is the atmosphere and work culture. Maybe it is less visible at the moment, because we work remotely, but I still remember times in the office. Everyone is very friendly, there is always someone to talk to. If you want to come to work, everything is easier, it is easier to learn new things and it is easier to work.

We have a lot of support in the form of onboarding. Nobody stands over anyone’s head from day one and screams that they don’t know something. They actually show you how to learn to do it. Thanks to this, we feel that if we do our best, everything will be OK. We have great benefits. You can come to the office, have a cup of coffee. We have support for working from home, thanks to which we were able to build a home office from the very beginning. I think all these things make this company a great place to work.

The year 2021 brought you a significant change in the development of your career. What are your plans for 2022?

I definitely want to develop further. I started preparing for a Java certificate, so this is something that absorbs me a lot at the moment. I would like to develop, learn more and more, and I hope to do my best work. Ensure that everything that comes out of my hands will work and make life easier for our clients and my colleagues.

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