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How my life changed after graduating in IT (VIDEO)
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How my life changed after graduating in IT (VIDEO)

Written by Pieter Mijnendonckx on 23 February 2021 for Graduates

As part of a recent guest lecture for around 100 Dutch IT students, we invited one of our ex-consultants, Jochen Wilms, to talk to us about his job search as a graduating student, his experiences as an Exellyst, how he handled the transition to a professional environment, and how he coped with switching to working from home full time.

An interview with Jochen Wilms

After graduating in 2018 from KU Leuven as an Industrial Engineer, Jochen became software engineer at Exellys, before moving on to become a freelancer.

In this interview, he shared his journey from the moment he graduated as an IT student up until today. Some of the topics we discussed were his general career path, what he does and doesn’t miss from his student days, and the impact of Covid-19 on his day-to-day work. Jochen also shared some valuable insights and concrete tips for anyone who’s graduating in the near future.

Watch the full interview right here:

How did you experience your final year as a student?

I wasn’t what you might call a ‘classic’ student. In my last year, I only had my thesis to wrap up. Because I had some more free time, I decided to work as a student at the Cronos Group where I gained my first experience in DevOps (Kubernetes, Docker, etc.). After graduating, it was time to look for the next step.

Gaining some real-world experience before searching for a first job is never a bad idea. How did you end up at Exellys?

I obliged myself to talk to at least 3 companies, to make a good comparison between their cultures and general way of doing things. I met someone from Exellys at a job fair and for some reason they stuck with me. The focus on training on coaching really spoke to me because it was the perfect way to invest in myself.

How my life changed after graduating in IT (VIDEO)

After you convinced us during your selection process you joined Exellys as a software engineer. How did that go for you?

After I concluded the selection procedure to join Exellys, I started out at The Glue, a scale-up that basically makes software for financial institutions. Before I knew it, my DevOps skills were on a new level and I was ready to take on more responsibilities.

I knew that I wanted to gain more technical skills like NodeJS or Java but didn’t really know how I had to communicate this to the team I was a part of. That is where my Exellys coach definitely helped me a lot. Eventually I ended up as a technical team lead in two years.

What’s the main difference between being a student and having a career?

I basically went from being a party-animal to an independent freelancer so you can say my world has turned upside down. As a student, you have nothing to do except going to school and study. But right now, I have more responsibilities than the average employee. So it’s been a 180-degree turn.

Is that responsibility something you missed while being a student?

Let’s say that it was definitely the reason why I enjoyed my free time a little bit too much. As soon as I started working, I felt that I was having an impact that I wasn’t having at school as most of the projects you make as a student are thrown away. Now I know that everything I make will be used and will make a difference.

How my life changed after graduating in IT (VIDEO)

Let’s talk about the C-word. It is having an immense impact on the way we work. How did Covid-19 impact your day-to-day work?

Before Covid-19, we already worked from home quite regularly. We enjoyed it and I always thought it could be more. But then it started…

For the first two weeks it seemed like heaven. Then I started to miss my colleagues and the social interaction that came with that. And now I feel like I’m in calls almost all the time.

For the first weeks, I definitely was more productive. But after a while you start missing those small interactions and realize that they make a huge difference.

We do however still see each other (which is a good thing by the way) but I’ve heard from several friends at other companies that they don’t even use the video function in their calls because of connection issues.

What are some of the tools that you use?

We use Zoom a lot, and Slack for chatting. If it’s a big call, we’ll use Teams. We also use Google Meet and Discord. Basically whatever is in the invite link.

So now with everyone working from home full time, how do you guard the line between your professional work life and your work life?

It’s difficult. When I wake up, I usually just start working right away. It’s dangerous to work all the time. If you are bored, it’s so easy to turn on your PC and start programming again. Although it’s fun, it’s not always the best thing to do, I reckon.

How my life changed after graduating in IT (VIDEO)

I did however start a new hobby: cycling. I usually do it during the day, if my schedule allows it, which makes it a nice break in between work.

Any parting tips for graduates?

My main tip is to never underestimate the importance of company culture. It’s hard to grasp but very important. Many companies have their values written on their website or the walls of their offices but have a hard time living up to them. If you have people in your network who work at the places you are applying for, definitely try to speak with them.

Another important pointer is about going for interviews. If you are going to an interview, it’s not just about what they want, it’s also about what you want. If you want to be a developer or an analyst, talk about it and make sure you find the right job for you.

Do you still have some questions for Jochen? Or you’d like to explore your possibilities at Exellys? Get in touch with us, we’re looking forward to talking to you!

About Exellys

Exellys is a Tech Talent Incubator. We match ambitious companies with the finest tech talent. Are you ready to drive the innovations of tomorrow? Ready to make an impact and become a future-fit digital leader?

Whether you are a graduate or (young) professional, Exellys will unlock your full potential by guiding you to a challenging work environment that perfectly matches your personality, expectations and ambitions.

On top of that, you are enrolled in one of our very own training and coaching programs (based on your personal and professional ambition and experience). This means that, while working as an Exellys consultant, we are helping you to bridge your ambition to excellence.

Through intensive training and coaching, you’ll gain the essential skills, competencies and knowledge necessary to become the highly effective professional you aim to be.

Become an Exellyst and get in touch with us today!

Written by Pieter Mijnendonckx Digital Growth Marketeer