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Career in IT: What Does it Take to Grow Within a Company?

Although the number of IT specialists in Lithuania grows every year, statistics show that more than 50% of companies are struggling to fill vacancies in their IT departments. That said, there are two sides to every application process: the employer’s and the employee’s. According to Insoft’s Solutions Architect Marius Valiuškis, technical knowledge is crucial, but companies are looking for more than that. Work ethic and personal qualities have a major influence on every phase of the employee lifecycle in a company, and finding the right fit is key for long-term growth on both sides.

Clarity comes during the trial period

Besides his main responsibilities as a solutions architect, Marius has been in charge of programmer resources management for over 5 years now. He takes part in candidate interviews and the decision-making process that follows. As new employees move on to the onboarding process, Marius continues to closely monitor their performance and progress by assigning a mentor and checking in to see how new programmers interact with the team, grow into their role, and tackle increasingly difficult tasks. 

According to Marius, Mid-level and senior specialists often have a clearer vision of whether a role in question is a good fit for them or not. The situation with junior specialists is entirely different with most questions and/or doubts only being reserved for the trial period. “Technical knowledge and willingness to work are not enough. With every junior specialist we hire, we start the onboarding process with simple tasks and then slowly build up to more complicated tasks, gradually familiarizing new employees with ongoing projects and the challenges they bring along. Having a mentor is another major advantage – juniors always have a point of contact if they need advice, get stuck, or need an extra push to bond with their team. It’s also the mentors that decide when new programmers are ready to join our ongoing projects. The key here is not to overwhelm new employees and allow plenty of space for them to adapt – that’s when their potential really comes through,” notes Insoft’s Solutions Architect.

Growth comes with new tasks and responsibilities

“Raising” a programming expert is not an easy feat, but having a clear agenda creates equal opportunities for everyone on the team. „One of the main indicators of competence is work experience, but we also distinguish programmers based on their performance. That allows us to establish a clear work structure and support programmers in their professional development, allowing them to grow into more advanced roles once they’re ready for it. For example, more experienced programmers join projects that are of strategic national importance. They can actively employ their knowledge and strategic thinking for process and service optimization, thereby making a notable impact. We also allow programmers to grow into positions of leadership, offering good conditions for transition into the roles of team managers and mentors,” Marius says.

Since public sector digitalization projects are one of the main directions for Insoft, there are plenty of challenges and opportunities that encourage the professional growth of programmers within the company. For example, in a recent project programmers worked on portable speed cameras used by the police force. This project was a huge success, leading to near-full automatization of data processing and documentation. The entire process was based on manual work up until then.

Another good example is the Schengen Information System (SIS), a governmental database used by 26+ European countries to maintain and distribute information on individuals and pieces of property of interest. The amount of data processed there on a daily basis is vast, so completing this project was a big challenge for the entire team at Insoft. Even so, the effort paid off, and this database streamlined daily work processes for thousands of police officers, customs officers and others who work in law enforcement within the Schengen Area.

More and more applicants come from different career backgrounds

Looking back over the last five years of recruitment within the programming department, Marius also notes that today applicants come in with more colorful academic and work experiences than before. "When I started taking part in interviews, most of the applicants for programming positions were professionals with an IT background. Now we are seeing more and more candidates who come from other fields, such as aviation, sales, medicine, dentistry and so on," he explains. According to Marius, people are increasingly turning to IT after realizing that their initial career path is not for them.

However, for both IT old-timers and re-skilled professionals, Marius points out that curiosity and willingness to learn are essential for successful growth as a programmer. This clearly shows in the internal culture of Insoft. "We actively encourage programmers to deepen their knowledge, take an interest in new technologies, and upgrade their certifications. We want them to have an opinion on various issues, follow market innovations and be able to share their insights when new topics come up. Within the company, programmers also have the opportunity to move between teams whenever the demand is high or there is a new project that they want to contribute to. This way, we create favorable conditions for an organic expansion of their project and subject area. Teams have different levels of expertise, so there is a constant exchange of discussions and knowledge," he notes.

United by work, connected by leisure

According to Marius, another very important variable in the selection process is the candidates’ ability to fit into the team. "Our team of programmers is very friendly: colleagues get along, hang out during lunch breaks, and have common activities after work. I often hear that the atmosphere in the team is a huge motivator for people who work here. It’s important for us to keep it that way," he says. Extending this effort, the recruitment process aims to ensure that candidates not only have the necessary technical knowledge required for the role but also have a good synergy with the team.