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Steven: From engineering student to front-end developer

Written by Astrid Roest on 18 September 2019 for Graduates

A while ago (October 2017 to be exact) Steven joined Exellys as a front end developer. A couple of months after his start, we sat down to talk about his transition from the classroom to the company floor. Fast forward two years and Steven successfully wrapped up his Start Smart Program and transitioned from being a young graduate to a top professional. Check out the interview below to see how is first months went…

Front end developer and proud Exellyst

Surviving your final months as a student, graduating, finding a job that you like and still finding the time to have something that looks like a social life. Sounds challenging with only 24 hours in a day, right?

At Exellys, we aim to bridge the gap between your graduation ceremony and the first day on your new job with our intensive Start and Grow Smart Programs. We sat down with Steven Buelens, who recently joined Exellys and just started as a front-end developer over at ING. Just to give you a better idea of what we are all about.

From engineering student to front end developer

Hi Steven, tell us a bit more about yourself!

“Hi, I’m Steven, a 23-year-old from Merchtem. I’m a front-end developer at ING and a proud Exellyst, but you might have guessed that already. I hold a master’s degree in engineering and management from the university of Leuven.

In my spare time, I like to play soccer and up until recently I was a very active member of our local scouting organization. I’m also a part of the youth council in my hometown.”

How did you get in touch with Exellys?

I first encountered Exellys at a job fair my faculty (Groep T) organized. I made a small list of companies I really wanted to talk to, but upon arrival I remember you guys had a really impressive booth that immediately sparked my interest. Also, the VR headsets were a nice touch!

We recently updated the VR experience to a hologram. Head over to for a sneak peek!

I had a really nice chat with Penny and when she explained to me what Exellys was all about, I was really intrigued. You guys are not just intermediaries or recruiters, instead you offer real value for young professionals and young starters like myself.”

Why did you end up choosing for Exellys?

“After the job fair, I decided to focus on my studies first. You know, being an IT student on the verge of graduation, you do tend to forget you actually still need to graduate. You cannot imagine the amount of emails we receive from recruiters offering us jobs and what not, well before we even finish university. However, that is not the vibe I got from Exellys. I really felt like you would take into account my specific wishes and concerns and that is why Exellys was the obvious choice for me.

From engineering student to front end developer

I know that I still have a lot to learn and I’m extremely motivated to do so. At Exellys I knew that I was going to get the coaching I needed and I would be able to surround myself with talented, ambitious and like-minded individuals. And so far it has been all I’ve hoped for.”

How did you experience our selection procedure?

“During my first interview with Astrid I got the same vibe as on that job fair a couple of weeks before. It didn’t really feel like a job interview, we had a normal conversation and afterwards I was asked to take some tests.

I must have done something right because I was asked to sit down with Raf, Exellys’ founder & CEO. I really appreciated the fact that he took the time to get to know me personally, because I’m pretty sure his schedule must be really busy. It didn’t really feel like I was talking to the big boss, in a good way that is!

Anyway, we quickly started talking about possible matches for me and several companies popped up. One of them being ING, where I was introduced not too long afterwards.

From engineering student to front end developer

I really had the idea that everything was falling into place. Not only the job description but also the open company culture, the accessible location and nice colleagues were a huge plus for me. I can honestly say that this position and company are the most ideal match for someone with my profile. And I can’t wait to see what the future at Exellys and ING has in store for me.”

The Exellys team is growing rapidly at ING. You guys all keep in touch?

“I think that there are about 16 of us, all spread across different branches of the company, so it’s not easy to keep in touch but we try to take coffee breaks together every once in a while.

A small part of our time, we also get to work together on what ING calls the Wings Program. This program is inspired on three pillars: Learning, Network and Impact and gives us the opportunity to get to know the company or a specific technology better. We get to work with different branches within the company, Security or HR for example, and by understanding how these branches work, we can provide better solutions for ING as a whole.

So far, we made an app for an ING event and we’re currently building a PeopleFinder which enables you to also filter on technical expertise. Pretty cool stuff if you ask me!”

You already mentioned your eagerness to learn. How did you experience the different Exellys trainings so far?

“So far? Great! A little while ago my Exellys class kicked off the Start Smart program with a three day stay in the Ardennes and I had a blast.

I learned so much in such a short amount of time and because we were there for three full days I really had the time to get to know not only other new consultants but also some of the internal staff and coaches.

We learned a lot about giving and receiving feedback and Insights, which I found particularly interesting. I never really took the time to evaluate myself and think about the key characteristics that describe me best. The Insights session we got that weekend totally changed that and I can say that I’ve become way more self-aware because of it.

We also have the opportunity to follow a bunch of technical trainings that are very job specific. For example, a certification in Polymer. Those trainings help us to be better and more efficient at our jobs, but also help me personally to become a better developer and colleague.”

Alright Steven, thanks for your time. Any final words or maybe some tips for graduating IT students?

“Work hard and take your time. Talk to a lot of employers to get a decent overview of what your possible future in their organisation might look like. Although you might be feeling the pressure, there’s absolutely no need to rush things.

Other than that, I quickly want to add that it’s great being an Exellyst and that the Exellys New Year’s Party definitely lived up to its expectations. I had a blast!”

From engineering student to front end developer

If you think you have what it takes to follow in Steven’s footsteps, get in touch with us and kickstart your career. We’d love to meet you!

Not convinced (yet)? Why don’t you check out Steven’s  favourite talks and take aways from the 2018 JS & CSS Conference in Berlin!

Written by Astrid Roest Talent Development Manager
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