People and Culture

Life as front-end developers at Zühlke: Amelia and Martin’s experience

Few roles are more important than that of front-end engineers. After all, your website and app offer a window into who you are as a company: and not just how they look…but how they perform.

5 minutes to read
With insights from...

Amelia Caffrey and Martin Cabello know this all too well. As Advanced Software Engineers, they work with a spectrum of Zühlke clients, dealing with everything from a site’s coding to installation and testing.

Insights in brief:

  • Learn about the lives of two front-end developers at Zühlke, Amelia and Martin, and what their typical projects and goals look like.
  • Understand why the agility factor is a major influence on keeping things exciting.
  • Discover how Zühlke’s support network, plus access to regular training, helped both developers take their skills to the next level.

Amelia and Martin are happy to challenge the stereotype that developers have repetitive, solitary schedules. At Zühlke, there are always fresh challenges to think about, new people to meet, and new things to learn.

“In my old job, the scope of my projects was pretty narrow, with the same old tech. But here, you never know what’s coming up,” Amelia says.

“For example, in one week I might be on a discovery project, figuring out whether we even have the right data to move things forward. But the following week I could be put on a live project, looking at existing code, and figuring out how to ensure my new, additional code might dovetail with it. You have to be very adaptable and I find that exciting. It sounds clichėd but it feels like working for multiple companies that are all a part of the same company.”

Martin points out just how much variety his role offers:

“There’s this misconception that we just sit alone at our screen all day. But there’s so much planning involved with other teams. I’m constantly surfacing concerns with other engineers for example, as well as sharing knowledge with the rest of our teams. Planning structure is a constant: we need to shape what’s being built and why — it’s constant collaboration every step of the way!”

Although both were previously full-stack developers, Amelia and Martin have different reasons behind what attracted them to their current roles. Whereas Martin loves the opportunities his role gives him to dig into new frameworks, Amelia enjoys the iterative element:

“Working on the front-end of things gives you the chance to make experiences better for the user there and then. It’s a truly iterative process. Being a visual learner, I fell in love with it from that perspective.”

Never-ending development

Both front-end developers acknowledge Zühlke’s support network and culture of holistic thinking in helping them grow into their roles. A combination of informal advice from colleagues and more formal training schemes have made a big difference to their development. Significantly, that development isn’t limited to the role of front-end engineer itself.

Martin points out that any fears he had of being “pigeon-holed” soon dissolved.

“It was really important to me that I wasn’t restricted to solely front-end stuff. So when I moved from my full-stack role, I was worried about being caged in. At Zühlke I found plenty of opportunities to contribute in other places, like back-end or a bit of DevOps: something I also enjoy. So I was given the chance to grow my career in a more holistic way…and I know I’m not the only one!”

Amelia highlights the frequent surprises that crop up in her role.

“When I started my role here I was pretty junior, but my team wanted me to get stuck into the full gamut of available campaigns. I ended up working on both data science and mobile content projects with the aim of experiencing as much as I could whilst I was new. It turned out that I really enjoyed them, and both aspects are now major interests!”

“People always look out for you here. As an engineer, in particular, you can always find someone to have a conversation with if you’re stuck on something. Plus, there’s a huge training budget, so if you want to learn something between projects, you can. That was a big draw in wanting to join Zühlke. From iOS programming for Swift apps to data projects and more, I’ve learnt absolutely loads.”

Not just any old culture

Martin pauses before articulating what it is about Zühlke’s culture that feels different to previous companies.

“One of the things I asked at my job interview was ‘how happy are the people working here?’ and everything the interviewer said in response has proven to be true! It’s a great atmosphere that goes beyond the project work. Everything is open. There’s no bureaucracy, and I’d definitely describe it as having a startup vibe albeit without the ridiculous hours. People are respectful of your personal time here.”

“One thing I love is that Zühlke gets everyone together every year for Zühlke Camp, where we can get together to learn different things. I’ve done sessions dedicated to sharing my knowledge. But there’s also loads of time to meet new colleagues via social engagements. That makes a huge difference to the company culture,” Amelia says. “If you’re in the development world and want to take the next step, you won’t find many environments that foster that support mentality as much as Zühlke.”

Martin and Amelia are both shining examples of what you can become at Zühlke. So what would they say to aspiring candidates?

Martin stresses that starting out with a “blank slate” shouldn’t be seen as a barrier to success:

“I’d say new starters can worry too much about not knowing a particular technology. With Zühlke in particular, having a good attitude and attention to detail will serve you just as well. There’s plenty of room to learn, and you’ll get the support you need as you go.”

“Definitely,” adds Amelia. “Zühlke offers all kinds of opportunities to bond with your colleagues, whether it’s online or in person. So I’d tell someone starting out to lean into those opportunities as much as possible!”