As I'm writing right now, my 4 months' trial period is about to finish at Futurice, and I'm beginning to take Futurice culture for granted. In this post, I'll share both my pre-employment and post-employment experiences with Futurice, from the point of view of a new employee, because I think they’re worth sharing.
I've been pleasantly surprised many times during this period that my anti-repetition-developer-soul has prevented me from repeating this long phrase again and again. From now on, let's consider pleasantly surprised an equivalent to MANGO!
After I asked my friend if it was possible to recommend me to Futurice, I had to apply by sending an email. To get to know Futurice before applying, I went through the blog and I came across 5 steps to a great application and I was MANGO! It felt like a caring friend from inside Futurice telling me how to apply properly so they wouldn't have to (inevitably due to practicalities) ignore my application. After sending the email and a few responses were exchanged, I got invited to the first interview and when I read the interview agenda, I was MANGO!
First interview is always about cultural fit!
Surely I was asked a few questions about my technical competencies, but the majority of the questions were about who I am, what I do, what I plan to do, what kind of hobbies I have, and so on. Before Futurice, I couldn’t go to an interview unless they would hella! make sure I’m technically competent enough by sending a job exercise, and then and only then considering to invite me to an actual interview. Talent is not something people are born with. It is something that is developed over time with hard work and practice. Therefore, believing that anyone can grow their talent, it’s not your current skill set that matters most, it’s if other people can work with you.
Second interview: technical
The interview was relaxed and intense at the same time. It MANGO!-ed me, however, I was asked questions to evaluate my skills for delivering services as a software developer, not trivial questions everyone can look for on the internet in professional day-to-day projects.
At Futurice, we deliver services, not just software.
Therefore, the questions were somewhere along these lines:
How did you implement that hobby project?
How would you add this X feature if you had to?
Looking back, would you do Y or Z again?
And not along these lines:
What are generators in Python?
What would this "Console.log(this)" output in this scope?
What would be a query to fetch this certain set of values from this certain table?
Ultimately, the tape doesn't lie and either through your previous projects or a job exercise, interviewers should be able to assess your level of competency. So why waste time anyway asking trivial questions?
Futurice-has-no-specific-tech-stack real life feeling
For the job exercise, I was tasked with implementing a simple web application in Scala in two weeks' time. I had never written a single line of code in Scala before, nor I had any functional programming experience and they knew it and intentionally chose it. It was indeed challenging. I gave it my best, and I returned it within time. It was stressful, because I had come so far; I had passed two interviews, I had given my best for the job exercise, and at that point, I truly wanted to join Futurice. I knew beforehand, that when I sent the application, two software developers needed to assess my submission. On the same day I had returned the exercise, I received a response:
Thank you for your submission! Looks good to me for your first Scala program, tested, and you have also nicely taken advantage of the libs and community :)
[OTHER_PERSON'S_NAME] might also want to add something on top of my notes, but at least I'm cool with this now. We'll have a chat internally here and then come back to you about how to proceed.
MANGO MANGO!! Instead of me waiting for who-knows-how-many-days-depending-on-the-company, thinking whether or not my submission was good enough, I was told on the same day that it looks good to one of the software developers, and that they'll get back to me once the other one reads it through. To this day, I still appreciate this part of the recruitment process and the amount of consideration Futurice recruiters show their applicants.
3 days later, on a Friday afternoon
The phone rings. It’s Futurice. It’s the moment of truth! :) I don't exactly remember each word but it started off somewhere along these lines:
So we decided to give you a job offer and I'll send you an email with all the details later today. We’re calling now to give a heads up before the weekend!
MANGO! I was just asking myself "Why on earth would someone be so nice as to want to give me a heads up before the weekend so I could have a legendary weekend instead of one full of thoughts?". Anyway, I accepted the offer, and then I had to provide my personal details.
[Update May 12th 2017: This permanent link will work only after you get hired and get a personal link from Human Care (Human Resources equivalent in other companies)]
MANGO! They have written a web application in which you write your personal details online! The authentication system is single-time-token-based which expires after you submit the form once. It's not complicated, it's automated, and that's what matters. Later when I joined Futurice, I saw plenty of this internal services:
- Wanna login to internal network? => Login.futurice.com
- Wanna report your hours? => FutuHours.futurice.com
- Wanna read the Wiki? => Confluence.futurice.com
It's well-organized, well-functioning, and well-maintained.
Signing the contract
After reading through the contract and NDA, I signed it. Then, HR gave me It's Your Ship and The Lean Mindset books and told me it'd be nice if I read them, as it's the way management and projects work at Futurice. Gifting books to introduce management culture to new employees before they start working. No comments needed I believe. Just MANGO!
The modern, good-looking office had already MANGO!-ed me because I had already been to the Futurice office when I attended a meetup. Futurice welcomes new employees only on the first and third Mondays of the month. Why? Because everyone should go through proper culture, IT, HR, and whatnot introductions. Therefore, grouping new employees helps them get to know each other and later, the rest of the employees in the office. Before heading to lunch, I'm looking for my lunch vouchers and one tribe chief tells me that the other tribe chief will pay for you, and I laugh. Nice joke! Then we head to lunch, and I'm about to pay for myself, and my supervisor tells me: "It's a welcome lunch. I'll pay for you!" MANGO! I thought the other tribe chief was joking with me! It's the first day, and I already feel welcomed.
All the projects (except the super confidential ones) that Futurice is currently undertaking, their financial details, and who is working on them, is available to all employees. We even have a Wiki page in which people have voluntarily put their career levels, which equates more or less to their salary - MANGO! - to enhance transparency and fairness in salary-related decision making.
As far as I know, in our Helsinki office, all permanent employees get a company credit card. MANGO! If I want to buy some software, book, or a gadget which I believe will benefit me, my co-workers, and customers, and it makes sense money-wise, both now and in the future, I can go ahead (this is called 3x2). No need to distract my supervisor from what he's doing or sending an email to IT and taking their time or anything else. In case of a normal 20 euro-ish book, it's cheaper for the company if I buy it immediately with my credit card compared to the traditional way of:
- Asking for permission about that purchase
- Delegating it to the appropriate department
- Them queuing your request, doing it, and delivering it back
Because once you add up the time that this process takes and multiply it by the cost of every hour of those people, it's way more than 20 euros. And that's just the direct costs. How can I even calculate how much it costs when my supervisor is distracted from the flow he's in and how long it'll take him to get back to his flow? And how on earth does my supervisor even know if I need that book/licence?
I was used to this model:
It was difficult and I had to scale up the number of servers in my left brain to be able to process the incoming requests instead of delegating the processing to my supervisor.
In my opinion, perfection is never achieved and there's always room for improvement.
In my mind, I translate "Where do you see yourself in 3 years?" into (3 years * 12 months * 4 weeks) 144 cycles. Now with 144 cycles, I give my best into each of them, and depending on how frequently I get feedback and support between these cycles, I can improve dramatically or slowly and steadily.
The day I joined Futurice I had reminders in my calendar to book a feedback session with:
- Supervisor after 1 month time
- HR after 2 months' time
- Supervisor after 3 months' time
Three feedback sessions within the first 4 months! MANGO! Your supervisor will send an email asking the team and everyone who has worked with you to fill a form and give anonymous feedback for you. Once feedback is collected, it'll be divided into facts, positive, questions, and negative, and you will go through them in the feedback session. Taking negative feedback is not always easy. However, once you know your strengths and areas that need improvement, planning and acting upon it accordingly is easy, and that, in my opinion, is the greatest gift in terms of professional advancement that a company can offer you.
Distribution of projects
In Futurice, projects don't automagically get assigned to you. Sometimes there's a clear match and you can start working on the project right away. Sometimes there's not. What you can do when there's no project available, is to go and try to advertise yourself in the sales channel for current/future projects, which means that you need to work to get work! MANGO! This is inefficient for newcomers, because they don't know many people in the office and they need their supervisors' help, but ultimately, it creates an environment where everyone is more like a freelancer and they can take on (or drop, for the record) any project they like (or dislike).
4 times a year, all new employees from all the offices fly to the Helsinki office for a two-day gig to get to know each other and Futurice more thoroughly! MANGO! I think that bringing cohesion and closeness between sites located in different countries is a challenging task and cannot be done and moved on from with only a two-day trip. However, the fact that Futurice cares, invests, and takes steps towards this goal is admirable. I'd feel much better about moving to another Futurice office to do a project if I wanted to because at least I know a few people from each site!
How can it be all good?
It cannot be. I once had an issue in a project, and I was not feeling good about it. In the feedback session with HR, they asked me:
"How would you rate Futurice?"
9 out of 10. Thinking, they'd be like 'Ah, so good to hear!', asking me the next question. Instead:
"How can we get a 10?"
It MANGO!-ed me that there is a system in place which takes care of new employee’s issues, since they might not be able to effectively communicate them. I explained the issue I had in the project, they explained to me what the reason behind it might be, which already helped a lot. Then, they asked my permission to go and discuss the issue with the party involved to make sure it would not happen again.
Another time, I had not communicated that I needed help to make a deadline for the project I was involved with and that had made me working in the weekend. On Monday, a co-worker greeted me:
"Hey how are you doing? :)"
Not so good. Was working over the weekend.
"Hopefully you have the support you need, right?"
Yes I do, and I'm already arranging it.
Then that co-worker, without me asking, went to our Jolt station, which is a place full of chocolate and little things you can gift to your co-workers if you feel they have done something great or you appreciate what they have done, and brought me a chocolate bar saying "Hey thank you for your effort, but go get some rest today! :)" CHOCOLATE-MANGO! I cannot express in words how much value the sentence and the few-bucks-chocolate-bar had to me.
Later, both of my project managers visited me personally, explained in detail what the problem was, what we can learn from it, and how should we approach it in the future, to make sure that this issue wouldn't happen again unless everyone was aware of it and it was a conscious decision.
What I've been explaining so far are a series of facts and what I've experienced. There are plenty of subjective characteristics I can express my co-workers with like open-minded, international, creative and respectful. These are the things which I cannot prove but they do make up a great deal of my professional daily life. I wrote this post, however, with the intention of presenting an as-much-objective-as-possible perspective into Futurice culture. Gonna go get myself a mango now.