How I left a startup in a big company

    To build a career is not to go up the stairs, where with each new step a more important position falls on you. Growing up is, rather, learning new things, not being afraid to try different roles and look for something you like. The path can be very unpredictable, but the more interesting.

    Yuri Bogomolov from Moscow tells how completely unexpectedly he went to a startup, grew to the position of a service station, and then - again unexpectedly - decided to change the company and area of ​​activity.

    How I found myself in a startup

    In 2014, I moved from Vinnitsa to Moscow and started looking for work. Before moving to Ukraine, he worked at Sitecore, supported a CMS on .NET. I studied Node.js for myself, I made a small project on this technology, but I did not think that I would connect my career with this direction: I was sure that I would continue to write on .NET. In Moscow, I had several interviews with a .NET developer, and received an offer from a large company. And suddenly, absolutely suddenly, I was called for an interview at a startup, where I had to write on Node.js.

    The startup just started, there were recruited the first employees. The company is still working, there is developing a B2B system for pharmacies, suppliers and manufacturers of drugs, which allows you to automate orders.

    I talked to the technical director of the startup, and I was hooked: I was interested in the technology stack, offered a good salary - the same as in a big company, from which I had an offer. There was another important point: the tasks that I was offered were 100% consistent with my education. I am a master of computer science with a degree in Intellectual Decision Making Systems. During the interview, the SRT mentioned things to which I immediately noticed: he did not rule out that in the future we may be engaged in machine learning, using neural network technologies. Of course, it was more interesting to me than writing another bank software.

    I presented two bowls of scales: on one - work in a company, where I would be just a cog in a bureaucratic machine. On the other - work in a startup where it is messy, but there is an opportunity to grow faster - both in position and in money. I did not hesitate for a long time and decided to go to a startup as soon as an offer was sent to me — not a classic, beautiful PDF in a letter — but a message on Skype: “Come.”

    I came to a startup on the second day of his work. There were four of us: two directors - general and technical - and two developers.

    We worked on Agile: every day stand-ups, at the end of the sprint - demo. The technical director brought the ridiculous yellow man Innocent, and we had a rule on our stand-ups: only the one who has Innocent in his hands says. These rituals were new to me. I knew about them, but never worked like this. I remember my feelings in the first days: “Oh, this is happening to me, cool!”.

    The first impression of working in a startup was superimposed on the impression of Moscow. Before that I lived in Vinnitsa, where about 400 thousand people. With Moscow, the difference is an order of magnitude. The bustle of the capital at first was confusing: I was shocked by the huge number of people on the streets, by the noise in the subway. I noticed that in a small town the attitude towards work is more relaxed. In Moscow, the race is more strongly felt, vanity.

    Career in a startup: from developer to workshop

    I came to the position of senior developer. At first I wrote a backend on Node.js, tests, designed a database, created a simple layout. Later he began to dive deeper into the layout and deployment.

    My fellow developer was a pure techie. I was interested not only in technical issues: it was interesting to find out how the business is arranged. I have such a trait: any product that I make, with time I begin to perceive as my brainchild, it is important for me how it will develop. Therefore, I talked a lot with the CEO, delved into the business component of the startup.

    I grew up as a technical specialist, deepened my business knowledge, and in time I was offered to become a HUNDRED. By the time I worked in a startup for about two years. It’s impossible to say that the new position has fallen on me like a bolt from the blue: I have long been interested in how to develop a startup and have expanded my area of ​​responsibility.

    In the new position, I began to think about technological solutions for the future, set tasks, engage in recruiting, organize interaction between different departments. For example, at some point in the departments of marketing, development and technical support processes began to slow down, and I needed to solve this problem.

    Working time was distributed as follows: approximately 30% of the time was spent on development, 10-15% on solving critical problems and about 50% on administrative matters: to plan and prioritize tasks, to check that the work was done, if necessary, to engage in hiring new employees.

    The hardest was working with people. For example, an employee comes and says: “I want to quit.” And you think: “The man made a decision. Who am I to hinder him? ”Although here you need to turn off this mode and stand on the side of the company. Employee care is a waste of time and resources invested in its development. Only over time, I realized that people need to try to keep. For me it was a big challenge.

    Before working in a startup, I never interviewed anyone, and this was also one of the most difficult tasks. I am quite introverted , it is difficult for me to communicate with strangers. At the same time, I am inclined to give out a big credit of trust: when an interviewee is a person, he is initially very positively inclined towards him. I was ready to take almost the first candidate I like. Now it seems to me that a more correct tactic is to interview several people, take a time out for a day or two, digest it all and choose the best.

    I remember, at the university, my friend and I were crazy about start-ups: “Let's launch a startup, we will carry business cards with the letters STO”. I achieved this in 27 years. Frankly speaking, getting such a position is strongly teased by a sense of self-importance. There are a lot of jokes about 23-year-old tmlids and 25-year-old service stations on the Internet, and, in general, they are justified. I tried not to allow such things as the title of the position to overshadow my sanity, but still inside I felt proud of the fact that I had this line in the resume. My attitude towards my colleagues, most of whom, by the way, were older than me, has not changed.

    Startup: Pros and Cons

    A huge plus in work in a startup is the freedom to choose technologies. If I wanted to use something new, I could do it without any problems. We ourselves decided how to write, on what, in what style, what to use for tests, deployment and so on.

    What else is good work in a startup? You can quickly try out several roles: be a developer, grow up to a team leader. Understand, for example, that being a team leader is not yours, and going to project managers. Or even realize that you want to work in the "iron" startup.

    The main disadvantage for me was the absolute chaos in the processes. We attracted an outside project manager to customize our processes. But as it turned out, it is very difficult to overcome the chaos of a startup. We tried to work on a “scram”, to arrange sprints - at first two weeks, then weekly, but later the mode of operation again became spontaneous. If something broke, it was necessary to urgently repair, and it did not allow to carry out all the planned tasks on time.

    In due course I understood: “STO” is a loud name for a position in a small company. We employed 12-15 people: two directors, mainly four developers, a couple of support specialists and several sales managers. As I understand it, STO is a person with a developed business mindset who is focused on the technical development of the company. This is not the all-rounder of the master who, at 12 am, raises the fallen production, roughly speaking. I think we can talk about the position of the service station, if the company employs at least 200-250 people. I think the level of technical director in a startup corresponds to the level of the team leader or solution architect in a large company. If you look at the number of people I managed, and at the scale of the tasks that I solved, “STO” for me are very loud words.

    Burnout and job search

    We had a very big hurry. We were told: "This is what needs to be done, faster, faster." In such a race, our technical debt grew: it would be nice to rewrite the code that was written in a hurry, but there was no time for that. The more technical debt, the more difficult to develop the project. I did my best to reduce this debt, but it grew. I had a huge stress: if there are problems in the system, the company loses money.

    It seems to me that to work in a startup you need people from a special test - who will be ready to work in a messy way, but hold on to the idea. We had a great team, all invested in the project, but the stress was accumulating. It seems to me that if you work in this state for several years, at some point something in the body breaks down. I started having health problems, and I realized that I can no longer work at that pace. Having worked in a startup for about four years, I decided to change the company.

    I have such a tradition: when I am looking for a new job, I prescribe important criteria for myself and make a special sign. Then with the help of it I compare different companies.

    I frankly burned outin a startup because of the chaos, and most important for me was the calmness of the nervous system - so that I knew what tasks to do, by what time. I had two offers from startups. In one they offered to be, as they say, the right hand of a technical director, in the second - the position of the SRT and the opportunity to assemble a team from scratch. They promised a salary higher than the market, but as soon as I imagined that I would plunge into chaos and tight deadlines again, start-ups in my ranking went down. Money was an important criterion, so I did not consider companies that pay far below the market. I had four offers from different companies, and on the basis of all the factors important to me, I won EPAM. I was called to the position of the team leader in the JS-unit.

    Big company: an inside look

    I remember my feelings on the first day of work. The first impression is “an hour and a half from home to office, for how long.” The second, on the contrary, is very positive when I saw the internal systems. Until now, I am in some surprise and delight at how automated the processes in the company are. The fact that, ridiculously, there is a separate system for generating signatures in the mail makes me very happy.

    I was not immediately identified for a project for a customer: first, I connected to an internal project - the development of a mobile application. It allows you to see on the card all the benefits that EPAM provides to employees in a single office. I was there a team leader: I conducted a code review, helped the guys, made new features.

    Two weeks later, I got on a commercial project - I began to lead a team of developers who made an XML converter for one of the client systems. I didn’t like this project very much: there were disagreements with the customer’s management. I went to my manager, to EPAM, and asked me to find something else for me. While I was waiting for a new project, I studied at the School of Architects within the company, became a mentor for a developer, spoke at JS-meetings, again connected to an internal project with benefits.

    Then I was identified on a commercial project, where you need to organize the reusability of the code - and the backend, and the frontend. It seems to me that now the development of the frontend can be compared in complexity with the development of the backend. This is not just "oh, we drew falling snowflakes on JS". Given that I promote the practice of functional programming, building a frontend is a rather difficult task. I came to the project as a tmlid, but took on the informal role of a front-end architect, which I really like: I design, write proof-of-concepts, reference implementations, conduct code review. In parallel, I study Scala and Haskell.

    The atmosphere in a large company, of course, is different from a startup. The people who make up the backbone of a startup are like a small family. I judge not only from my own experience, but also from the experience of my friends. They all keep together: for example, we often went on quests, together celebrated the New Year and birthdays. There is no such family atmosphere in a big company: there are a lot of people, they change projects and teams.

    When I chose between EPAM - a service company - and a grocery one, I thought about what I could get in each of them. I, as a person who worked in a startup, have a grocery thinking. I care not about how to close my task, but how to make my task help the business. In this sense, I would have approached work in a grocery company. On the other hand, I really wanted to expand my horizons related to technologies and business domains, work on different projects, learn new things. In a startup or a grocery company there are no such wide opportunities. Of course, projects in service companies are different, and some may not like. But you can come to the manager and say: "I want a different project." Not the fact that you will find something else here and now. But, if you show yourself as a good specialist, they will meet you.

    In a large company, career growth is not as rapid as in a startup, but there are opportunities. For example, in the EPAM there is the Grow app , which helps to plan its development. I did not see any analogues on the market. And there is also a department specializing in TRIZ (theory of inventive problem solving). TRIZ is a framework that helps formalize solutions to creative inventive problems. It seems to me that “engineering” in this company is not an empty sound.

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