Looking for new career opportunities? Meet Zuzia Kusznir, our Backend Developer! She started working at our company 2.5 years ago and now is a leader of the backend team. How it was changing and what is she doing now? All of the answers and more in the interview of My Applover Path!

How did you get a job at Applover?

Several of my close friends were working at Applover back then, and they were sneaking some insights. They were saying that Applover is a place where you can really feel that the organization is growing from the bottom up, that everyone can take part in different kinds of processes, define their ideas for improvement, and put in place them. 

I also learned that I would have the opportunity to work on an Applover product, which really encouraged me. I’ve always wanted to be involved in a project where I could feel my real impact on the final design. With this, I knew I was building something that the company cares about to make it great. I was excited about developing a direct value for Applover.

Was there open recruitment back then?

As Applover at that time was looking for developers that can develop their product, after applying to the job offer on Applover’s website, the management invited me for an interview. I recall the conversation itself as relaxed. I learned a lot about the product, how the company works, and who they need. 

What was interesting, I also learned about the upcoming processes. One of them was the need for better career paths (Personal Growth Framework), which involved an offer to take part in these processes.

At that point in my career, I felt confident enough with my skills and experience to jump into deeper water: product development. Working on the designing and prototyping of it was great. I had a chance to take part in various processes within the company. I was also very excited that Applover wanted to put their trust in me and put these responsibilities in my hands.

Now, I’ve been involved in the hiring process myself, and I’m trying to make conversations with candidates as enjoyable as my interview. For most people, a job interview is an unusual situation that generates stress. But we are aware of that and want to deliver the best experience during the recruitment process at Applover. I always want to get to know the candidate’s attitude towards solving different kinds of problems. I also like to ask questions about her/his experience as a programmer, both positive and negative like the most interesting project or the biggest disappointment, but also about willingness for development.

As always – a portfolio with side projects is welcomed so we can get to know each other better. 🙂 

What position did you start from?

I started as a Ruby on Rails backend developer and I’m still working in this position. At some projects, I also did coding in JavaScript and played with Vue.js, but my heart is with Ruby.

What project was the most challenging here for you as a backend developer and why?

The biggest challenge turned out to be an internal tool for the client that was the project management system. The challenge here was the work mode – so far I’ve been used to typical Agile flow with the client expressing requirements on the fly. This time the situation was completely different. The customer has defined the entire scope at the very beginning with the specification in detail how the final MVP of the application should look like.

We quickly noticed that in such a situation Waterfall would work better and we invested a lot of time in analyzing the requirements. We wanted to map them into the application flow and backend logic before we start the implementation. On the other hand, it was a big challenge to approach the project implementation from such a different perspective than before. But it turned out that with each iteration of the workshop with the client, our understanding of requirements was more and more accurate, and we were translating these requirements into a potential implementation by small steps. I consider this workshop process to be the most fruitful I’ve taken part in! 

At the same time, the project was an interesting technical challenge as it required defining RBAC (Role-based Access Control) for a wide range of users and taking these permissions into account during the complex development process inside the application. The development itself consisted of several stages, where at each stage different people were involved in the project. It turned out that a state machine came in very handy and helped us with resolving both access control as well as control over the proper flow of the project. 

After you become a backend team leader, how did it change your day-to-day work?

I became a leader after a year of working at Applover. It happened when we defined the aforementioned PGFs and needed to identify leaders who were responsible for supporting the development of their team members. My day-to-day work has basically stayed the same. There are only periodic meetings or duties that I perform in addition to my role as a leader, e.g. 1 on 1 meeting with each team member or employee evaluations that I take part in. 

Sometimes focusing on supporting others and helping solve their problems makes me forget about my needs. Fortunately, I have 1 on 1 with my leader, where I get a lot of support and help in solving problems.

How do you combine leadership commitment with work in the project?

My day-to-day work hasn’t changed much – the vast majority of my duties are working on projects. And apart from that, I periodically catch up with everyone in the backend team to discuss what everyone’s current needs are or how they’re doing with their goals. I also try to be available for any questions or problems – probably not always as well as I’d like (forgive me, my team, please!).

What tools do you use in your projects? Do you have any that you prefer better?

I might be a minimalist, but all I need is Visual Studio Code and a dev console. Apart from that, and apart from projects, Todoist is an inseparable tool at my work. I save there everything that I need to do later, even “write an email to someone” when I know that at the moment I won’t find time for this.

What are you doing in your current position? What are your responsibilities?

I’m responsible for the backend development of applications, designing the logical flow of each functionality, and regularly consulting ideas with the client. Besides, I try to actively share my knowledge with the whole backend team during our weekly education meetings. As a leader, I motivate my team for individual or collaborative development. Sometimes we also take part in initiatives like Advent of Code.

What, in your opinion, did change the most at Applover since you started working here?

Definitely the presence and quality of standards and processes we operate at Applover. I can see that there have been a lot of grassroots initiatives resulting in clearly defined rules (e.g. the recruitment process) or growth guidelines (e.g. career path). This definitely makes it easier to “jump in” to an area like participation in job interviews or onboarding new team members.

What professional successes are you particularly proud of?

I’m most proud of the project that got me excited on the first deployment day. Often the case is you’re working on a project, which on the day of the first release is just beginning its life cycle and only after months becomes a real usable product. But with this project, the situation was the opposite. As the project activity was planned only for a week after the release (a timed survey), peak users took place in the first days after release. I remember very well the constant tracking of responses and a little stress related to waiting for bugs and hotfixes. Fortunately, there were none! Otherwise, I wouldn’t remember the experience so well.

Any plans or challenges that you await in the nearest future?

I’m planning to learn Elixir together with my backend teammate. Maybe it will result in some mutual project – keep your fingers crossed!

Do you have any advice for people who want to start their career as Back-end Developers? Maybe you can share your favorite knowledge sources?

There are so many courses and tutorials these days that it’s hard to recommend something myself. Unfortunately, I did them a long time ago. But the good thing about their availability is you will find something for yourself. The most important thing is to get to know the language you’ll be programming in first (e.g. Ruby), and only then start learning the framework you’ll be writing applications in (e.g. Ruby on Rails). I’ve made the mistake of learning the Ruby language through learning how to write apps in Ruby on Rails. This made it hard for me to distinguish between Ruby on Rails and Ruby features. I have a feeling that knowing Ruby better first it would have been easier for me to jump into the Ruby on Rails framework.

Golden advice: code, code, and code. Look for answers on StackOverflow, and code again! I recommend you to write some gem by yourself or a small project. Once you get used to the language and projects, it will be easier to develop and increase your portfolio. Good luck!

Zuzia Kusznir

Back-end Developer

Become the Back-end Developer

If you’re looking for a place where you’d like to grow as a Backend Developer, keep checking Applover’s Careers Page! We start new recruitments regularly due to the company’s growth. We might need someone like you right now.