From University to a smashing Software Engineering career at Zühlke
Find out about life at Zühlke as a Graduate Software Engineer and about the possibilities that await if you join us.
Seda is one of our Gen-Z Zühlkees who’s been with the UK hub for two years and counting, following her degree and master’s.
Insight in brief
- Understand what life’s like as a new Zühlkee – from exciting Android projects to highly competitive Bingo
- Discover how it feels when all your colleagues have your back
- Learn why feeling intimidated during an interview may be a warning sign
A career in tech always beckoned. In Seda's diary as a nine-year-old, her dream was to be a ‘Computer Scientist’ – an ambition that started when she learned simple code from her father.
“My dad did his PhD in Computer Science and he was so passionate about it,” explains Seda, Professional Software Engineer at Zühlke. “Playing tech was a cool bonding thing we did that the rest of the family didn’t understand. He would show me stuff like HTML, some Java - fixing what was wrong in the code. It was a hobby and I always knew STEM was going to be my thing.”
Beware intimidating interviews
But after her studies then came the interview process and the sometimes daunting search for a job – often starting with graduate recruitment days. Seda discovered that there were definitely enough jobs up for grabs, but that some of the recruitment experiences left her not wanting to work for particular organizations – despite the role being perfect on paper.
“All firms say there’s no discrimination. In practice, there’s a lot of unconscious bias during the interview process,” Seda admits. “Often, I could only see men as company representatives. The same applies to being a black person. I had one employer say that they liked the diversity I’d bring, without mention of my skills. I felt I was part of a tick-box exercise. But when I came to Zühlke, there was a good mix of friendly people who made me feel welcome – and I walked away wanting to be part of the team.”
The Zühlke experience: A conversation, not a cross-examination
Seda describes the interview itself as intense, but enjoyable – not a typical adjective for what is often a nerve-racking experience. After a free-flowing conversation, which felt like chatting to a mentor, her interviewer gave her a book on design patterns – and even offered a different job to the one she’d come in for, which seemed like a better fit for her interests.
“The way you’re treated during an interview process gives you an insight into how you’ll be treated as an employee,” advises Seda. “If you feel intimidated or diminished, that’s a warning sign. You need to find the right fit for you and not be pigeon-holed early on. During some interviews, I felt pressured to declare the professional path I wanted to go down. But it’s good to be flexible; you don’t want to close yourself off from unknown opportunities early on. My Zühlke interviewer took time to really get to know me and steered me towards a software engineering career. And he was right.”
Zühlke onboarding: Meets, greets & foosball
Seda’s first week was welcoming and energizing. Lots of meets and greets, plenty of foosball – and even a lunch with Wolfgang, the CEO, involving “super chilled” chats about Zambia (where Seda is originally from) and, of course, some geeking out over tech – which is also Wolfgang’s background and passion. For Seda, Zühlke’s kind, open culture and playful mindset struck her on day one and has been there ever since.
“Office gossip is just not a thing here; I think that’s rare. It’s all about the employees. We are asked: What are your interests? Where do you see your career going? And how’s your mental health? During lockdown I was struggling a bit and my line manager told me to take the day off. When I said I was worried about letting my project team down, he told me to take two days off instead! People always have your back here.”
Personal growth and development: Inspired to learn
The caring approach includes not making employees work on projects that don’t inspire them – and investing 10 percent of Zühlke’s annual turnover back into people development. For Seda, that investment has involved Android and iOS training – whether through online courses, conferences or graduate upskilling initiatives with senior engineers.
And there are many other opportunities to learn – including ‘brown bag’ or ‘lightning talk’ lunches, where Zühlkees talk about anything, not just work. Despite being an introvert, last year, Seda spoke to her colleagues about racism at the time of black lives matter protests.
“I've learned so much at Zühlke. I was very shy to begin with and I would always second-guess myself. With encouragement and help at all times, I’ve grown a lot in my technical – and non-technical – skills. I am still an introvert, but I have come out of my shell a lot.”
Being comfortable bringing her whole self to work is a big part of the Zühlke experience. It shows in the work every day and at the bingo, games nights and yearly camps, where teams get together to develop ideas, grow their skills, and connect with colleagues. This year it’s off to the Lake District in Cumbria. Pack the hat and scarf, Seda!