9 Weeks at Project A — Peeking Through the Keyhole

Project A’s CTO, Stephan Schulze, shares experiences and insights from his first nine weeks at Project A

By Stephan Schulze

At times in the process of applying for a job, successfully completing the various interviews and getting ready to sign a contract, often questions arise such as “What should I expect?” or “Will it be the best job I will ever have?” or “Is it really the right decision to sign the contract?” or even “Will I sell my soul and become a zombie that works from 5 am till 11 pm?”.

Some thoughts like this came to my mind when I was applying for a CTO trainee position at Project A. I decided to join the company, but for those of you who may be in a similar situation, this post might help to clarify your decision by reading about the experiences and insights which I have been able to gather within my first nine weeks at Project A.

Life is short and we all have little time, so here is my summary:

I signed a contract as a CTO trainee in the middle of June 2015 and my first day on the job was the first of October. After two weeks at Project A, I became responsible for a team of seven developers, on a project with an eight-week deadline, that was supposed to be built within a framework I had only heard of previously. I worked a lot and had a successful project launch, nine weeks after starting at Project A. I enjoyed the first weeks, but nevertheless I was also happy about getting a breather over Christmas vacation.

Now in a bit more detail:

After my first two days on the job, it became relatively clear, that I was going to be responsible for migrating one of our ventures (Pets Deli) from their old Magento shop to the Spryker framework.

So keep in mind: You might take over a lot of responsibility right from the beginning.

In my case it started somehow “slow”, because the first week was mainly filled with setting up some infrastructure and becoming familiar with the SaltStack framework we use for server provisioning. But it also included two days at the SymfonyLive conference, which I hadn’t really expected. So I was actually really happy that Project A also had me in mind when they were buying the tickets for the conference.

With the beginning of the 2nd full week, I became responsible for a team of seven developers and started to work on the migration project. This might sound like a jump into the deep end, and in fact it was indeed. Especially, when I realized that half of the whole company also seemed to be working on this project and it had a really high internal priority. But the good thing was that I got fantastic support and backup from all of my colleagues, including every hierarchy level and every department. It´s hard to believe, but there was really no one that was not friendly and open-minded for all the questions that I asked. To be honest, I had personally never experienced anything like that before.

Besides learning to swim, I was also directly invited to support HR by doing phone and face-to-face interviews and also joined management and venture strategy meetings. This sounds like a lot of work and it truly was (and still is).

But, to make a long story short:

  1. I expected all that — the only thing I didn’t expect was how fast things went.
  2. I realized that I was working with a really great team (on both a project level and on a company level), in which each team member shares the same professional mindset, and is really, really good at their job.

Of course, there were also days when I left the office after a lot of working hours and thought “Oh what a day…”, but to be honest, it didn’t happen as often as I expected it would. Nevertheless, there is also time to reduce the insane speed mode and leave the office earlier or at least after the “normal” 8 hours of work.

In conclusion, it feels more like I’ve been with Project A for a year than only for nine weeks. I am fully integrated into the company, have a great working environment and feel extremely comfortable with it. This is, of course, a very subjective view, but it might help you to get an idea of what you could expect from such a job.

About working with Project A in general:

  • The company is staffed by very professional and very committed colleagues.
  • The workplace is characterised by a fast moving environment.
  • You get the chance to learn a lot of things in a really short time and to shape the future of one of the most promising start-ups around.