I recently sat down with Junior Software Engineer, Leanne Zammit to find out how her first month at Tillo has been, what the interview process was like, and what appealed to her about software development. Leanne is a great addition to the team - embodying many of the Tillo values - and I enjoyed hearing about her career journey.
If you’re considering a role in software development then give this post a read to hear some of her advice and if Tillo sounds up your street then we’d love to hear from you; we’re always recruiting and you can find our open roles here.
I’ve been doing software engineering for a long time now - I’ve been coding since about the age of 13. And even before that, my mum is very technically in tune. I studied it at school in Malta and I really found the problem solving side of programming appealed to me. It just clicked very quickly and was that subject that I really enjoyed! My educational path was pretty standard - I did computing at A level, did a Bachelor's degree and then threw myself straight into working in the field.
It’s great that coding is starting to be introduced to students from a younger age. My year was actually the first school year group to start using Java as a coding language.
I was actually introduced to Tillo through a recruiter - I was very intrigued because, coming from a fascination with problem solving, I was interested to understand more about what really goes on behind the scenes of digital gift card generation. I thought it was really cool to understand how vast that process actually is.
I was also attracted by the company’s presence on the website and social media - it does a great job of portraying what the company has to offer in terms of culture as well as the business values etc.
For me it’s the little things like on my first day going to Hove Patisserie with some of the other developers for lunch. And on my first day I had an introductory coffee with Michael at Small Batch where he got me up to speed with everything. The engineering team also goes to the pub after a new release and the company just generally has a nice atmosphere.
Obviously you’re still at a workplace but it feels very colloquial, and as someone who’s up until now not been especially social in a work environment, it’s been nice to feel that it’s easier here.
Of course, the comfortable office (which is also really easy to get to) hasn’t worn off on me yet! I love the fancy coffee station with all of the flavoured syrups and the snack cupboard. Sometimes the little treats can make a difference.
People have been so friendly - I’ve had people reach out to introduce themselves, and say what they do. I think this really does go a long way! I also like the ask-me-anything sessions in slack to help everyone get to know each other. It’s such a good idea and there are some really fun questions like Steven always asks “If you had a pub, what would it be called?”
So after sending my application in, I heard back and got my first call booked in with Briony which was a case of getting some context about what the company does and sharing a bit about my background.
The next step was to have an interview with Joe and Jake to get more of a background on the technical side of things. At that phase of the application process I was also given a technical text In PHP.
And then the final interview was with Michael (VP of Engineering) and Naomi (Senior Software of Engineer). The interview was partly technical and also enabled me to get a bit of context about the company. At every state, I asked people how they felt about the workplace culture because that’s such an important thing to establish at the interview stage.
About a week later I got the offer!
Once I joined, I was given a lot of information on my first day (which happened to coincide with the business reviews where teams share what they’ve been working on in the past month and what they’re focused on next). I was introduced and welcomed to the team and I got an overview of how the team was structured. I also have intros to the People team as well as the different departments over the first few weeks to get some context around what each team does and what they’re responsible for.
I was also really impressed with the self-care initiatives that Michael set up for the team. For example, we have Engineeringo Bingo where we have a little website where you can mark that you did a particular self care task in a day. For example, getting 8 hours of sleep, drinking a glass of water, or actually leaving your desk to take a break. It’s so easy in our line of work to sort of get caught up in the work and forget to do these things.
Obviously as I’m very new, I’m still sort of getting to grips with it all. But I’m one of the PHP Laravel developers so I’m mostly focused on work that ties to the core - mainly the API side of things.
For example, I’ve been very involved with the onboarding of new brands and processes, creating asset changes, and taking up tickets. Each day starts with a standup meeting where we check in with what everyone’s doing, whether there’s any code that needs to be reviewed (before anything actually goes into the system it gets peer reviewed), what’s actively being worked on, and people give updates on how they’re progressing with projects.
This meeting sets the tone for the rest of the day because you can say if you’re looking to take on more work or you can ask for help with something. As I’m new, I’m often asking for some help in the meeting and if someone has some spare time they’ll agree to touch base later in the day. Then we’ll have a little huddle on slack and review things that way.
We also have sprint planning meetings; sprints are two-week stretches of work. The team will assess the impact of certain tasks, and place the appropriate priority on them to make sure that we don’t neglect anything that needs our attention.
Absolutely, I think hybrid is my ideal where I can kind of call the shots on what’s best for me on that given day. Since having the opportunity to work remotely part of the time, I wouldn’t be keen to go back to being in the office full time. But the office definitely has benefits, for example being able to talk about the problems I’m finding in my code face-to-face. On days where I want a bit more quiet and focus, working from home works best for me.
Obviously getting the knowledge is very important - finding good video courses can go a long way or doing in person courses like university depending on a person’s situation. In this industry, I think it’s really important to be a very active learner where you can - always pushing yourself to learn and being willing to keep learning. For example, I engage with online conferences and try to be quite active in the community.
Also it’s good to build up a bit of a portfolio of your projects to be able to present in interviews and be able to explain these with enthusiasm. Showing that your passion for the industry is a big asset!
Resources I’d recommend include: