Paddl Spotlight: Finding Your Way in the Technology Industry

July 11, 2016
By Robelen Bajar

The Paddl crew interviewed two successful industry figures within the tech and innovation space covering their career journey, experiences in the industry, the importance of communication and advice for young people studying in and entering the tech space.


Jaya Wijono

Software Developer, REA Group

What did you study?

I did a Bachelor of Engineering and Science at The University of Western Australia and General Assembly’s Web Development Immersive (WDI).

How did you get your foot in the door for REA?

At the time I was working at HardHat Digital as a programmer when I was approached by a recruiter asking whether I’d be interested in applying. The process was a tricky and lengthy one: there was a coding test, pairing and a few interviews which all happened over 4–5 days.

Did you find it a struggle applying for jobs after graduating from your studies at General Assembly?

No, not really. At first it was daunting reaching out to different companies and getting my name out there, but it wasn’t too difficult in the end because there’s a lot of demand for my skills. There is a lack of tech focus skills in the job marketplace so you’re very employable if you obtain them.

Do you think it’s important for students to have industry-relevant experience before graduating?

The standard of web practice changes very fast, software used last year can be completely irrelevant now. I think it’s important to keep up to date with trends even if you’re not using that particular software. By knowing what it is and why people use it, you can apply skills and knowledge to your new environment.

Having experience working at a tech company is definitely a bonus, but every company has completely different specifics and technology so it’s okay to have that ‘uh oh’ feeling. It is important to show you can do your own research and try to apply the correct mindset to use those skills.

How important is communication in the field of development and engineering within a team?

It is definitely very important in our current team (at REA) because we don’t have a leader that micromanages. Communication is driven by the initiative of team members, for example we all have different roles within the team but we’re given the freedom to work out what the best solution is to solve the problem. You need to be open minded to different ideas and suggestions — so far we haven’t had any issues.

What benefits have you found bring on juniors or running internships in your team?

Every year we take up graduates and internships which are rotated on a 3 month basis around the teams. Because each team is different, they get to learn about different specifics and technology. It’s good having them around because they offer a different perspective and an extra set of hands on the large tasks.

What advice do you have for young people studying in and entering the industry?

Try to go to Meetups and keep up with industry because it changes so frequently. Keep an ear out for Reddit channels that are tagged to programming or subscribe to developer blogs.

Even if you don’t know much about certain things, at least know what they are and why people use them — it’s a lot better than doing nothing at all.


Philip Castiglione

Web Solutions Developer, JCurve Solutions

What did you study?

I originally completed a degree in commerce and then had a career in that industry for a couple of years. It wasn’t until late last year I decided to make a career change into the tech space because I wanted a career that would get me out of bed in the morning. I completed a 3 month Web Development Immersive course at General Assembly — prior to the course I had never written a line of code in my life, nor did I have any experience.

How did you get your foot in the door into the tech industry?

I was very fortunate in that General Assembly were really good at helping me get my foot in the door, but it’s still a daunting task. A lot of networking through guest speakers and lecturers at GA was extremely helpful and actually ended up landing me my first job.

Do you think it’s important for students to have industry-relevant experience before graduating?

It’s definitely ideal to have experience, the more you have the more employable you are. Even though I hadn’t worked in tech before, I was able to bring a lot workplace skills, problem solving skills and real world skills into my workplace straight away from my previous job in commerce. I think that’s something current students would benefit from.

How important is communication in the field of development and engineering within a team?

It is very important - especially having the ability to talk to technically and non-technically inclined people. Having the ability to understand what people mean when they talk in layman’s terms and translate that into technical requirements. Helping bring out all the different requirements that someone might have are crucial skills to taking a bit of communication and having a vision to meet the end requirements.

What advice do you have for young people studying in and entering the industry?

I’ve definitely received a lot of good advice over my career but the one that sticks out for me and that can translate to the tech space is the more you get out there, the more people you know — the more sources of information and perspectives you have. It’s very tempting to get overwhelmed by the quantity of technical information, but it’s equally important to get out there and make contacts. This helped me have an impression of where the industry is going and where you should spend your efforts in terms of a technical side.

Hopefully both of these stories inspire Students to take a leaf from Jaya and Philip’s book and gain industry-relevant experience before graduating. If you’re studying a technology-based course and haven’t been invited by your Educator to use Paddl, register here.