It's more than official. My first big job interview has earned me a job doing what I love, surrounded by the technologies I love the most.
I'm officially part of the AGAP2 consultant team. For those who don't know AGAP2 is a Portuguese IT company, specialized in outsourcing - the company have continually been growing for the past 5 years. Their headquarters are located in Picoas (Lisbon) from where they manage a large team of consultants.
After the interview I found very little documentation about how a company like AGAP works. I simply couldn't find any report of someone who actually had undertaken the process I was about to undertake and who wrote about it.
This entry is an attempt to enlighten a bit anyone who might be thinking of integrating an IT Outsourcing company but isn't quite sure what to expect.
How does a company like AGAP2 work?
For those who have no experience on how an IT Outsourcing company runs (I've just found out I did neither until a month ago), you basically have a small team on the headquarters. Besides the business support units (Human Resources, Marketing, ...) there are around two dozens of Managers. The vast majority of the consultants are allocated to a client (or a number of clients) and work directly at the client's office.
The "Manager" figure is quite peculiar. They are a mixture of salesman and project leaders. They are tasked with finding new projects, negotiate contracts, find the right consultant for the job and then to manage the consultant's action within the project.
As a consultant my manager is responsible for my career and has a great interest in assuring that I'm happy, working in something that I like and somewhere where I can really shine. As he's commercially responsible for the client where I get placed, he's absolutely interested that I'm really able to shine - that means more business opportunities and ultimately a bigger paycheck for him at the end of the year.
On the other hand he's my direct boss. This might sound weird but in fact works pretty well - my Manager's success depends on my own success. If he is able to distinguish the kind of project I'm right for, I'll be happily hacking/coding everyday something I can be excited about and he'll share my happiness by having an happy customer.
Needless to say that this "co-dependency" means that my relationship with my manager is very relaxed, we're both basically there to kick-ass and mutually interested that everything works out for both of us.
Is something like AGAP2 for me?
If you're young, eager for adventure and want to gather as much experience as you possibly can - absolutely YES. Being an outsourcing company you'll probably get in contact with a lot of people, a lot of technologies and a lot of methodologies.
As AGAP2 is hired on a project basis, chances are that you'll be jumping from client to client on a regular basis. This might sound frightening but from my experience so far, it's not that bad - people expect for you to be an expert (they hired AGAP exactly to get an "expert" on a certain technology) and they really value your opinion.
On the other hand I don't see myself working in this regime forever. The night before being assigned to a new project you start to get that nervous tickling feeling - Will I be able to do what I'll be tasked to? Will the people I'll end up working with OK? How's the working environment?
In my modest opinion AGAP2 is an excellent place for you to start you career at. On the technical side you'll be in contact with people with all sorts of backgrounds - professionals who really know what they are doing and similarly persons who clearly don't have a clue about what they're doing. You'll get in touch with a lot of code, a LOT of bad code, a LOT of hard challenges, heck once in a while you'll even find that small bit of code that is so good, so perfect that will almost make you cry.
If you're someone who likes a tough challenge, who is ready to tackle on even the ugliest, meanest code ever written and still deliver the end solution while preserving your sanity and ultimately you're someone who values being around different people and environments, then yes this is a challenge you should take some point down the road.
What have you been up to?
Well the first project I got assigned to was a small design agency. They manage the website of a big multinational furniture shop.
I've been basically fixing wholes on an application with no sense of direction at all and that has been developed by 5 or 6 different guys. A real mess and definitely a challenge...
More recently I've been tasked to develop an institutional website for yet another company. I had total freedom to implement the solution in whatever technology I thought would work the best - WordPress was a natural choice.
Meanwhile I had a very tough/fun 3 hour interview at SAPO and I got in. After a brief month doing my thing in minor projects, AGAP2 gave me the opportunity to work at the company that's the reference regarding Open Source technologies. I'm supposed to start working there next Wednesday. :)
And that's basically it. I could go on telling you all the bad and great code I've seen, all the people I've met, all the peculiar situations I've been faced with (things like getting too early to the office, getting in and not knowing what desk I should sit in - seems silly but it's a very uncomfortable situation, lol) - but this entry will suffice for now.
I definitely want to write about my interview at SAPO (made every other job interview look absurdely simple) and about a couple of things I've been using (go check it out - Slim and Twig), so do keep checking in from time to time!