Michal received a BSc and MSc in Computer Science from University of Warsaw, Poland and an additional BSc in Mathematics from the same university. Although, Michal has graduated in 2005, he was already working as a software engineer since 2003.
Michal was a bit dissatisfied with the jobs he had and thought of changing his career completely. This was the primary reasons why Michal decided to undertake a PhD in Computer Science at the University of Warwick. That and the fact that he wanted to visit a foreign country. Michal left Poland in 2006 and completed his PhD in 2011. It was a challenging project but a worthwhile experience. After completing the PhD Michal still didn’t know what career he wanted to choose, so took a short postdoctoral position at the same university, while exploring the job market.
Michal didn’t know where he wanted to work, but knew how he wanted to work. Michal wanted to work in a flexible and relatively small team with a flat structure and a lot of collaboration. Eventually Michal found Playfish, and has been enjoying working there since early 2012.
What is your job title?
What is your role about?
My work day starts with a standup, a quick meeting of all the people on the engineering team during which we all updated each other on what we’ve done the previous day and what is our plan for the day. This is also the occasion for the managers to communicate what are the priorities and to chase us up on some left behind work. Once this is finished, we have some dedicated time to review each others work, and then actual coding starts. Days are light on meetings but it doesn’t mean we don’t talk. In reality there is a lot of chatter as we help each other out, discuss designs, play table tenis, and fussball. If there is a more difficult task or someone is new to the subject we pair programme, though this is not the norm, and is left to the individuals preferences.
What are the best/most positive parts of the job/industry?
We are light on the process. Management is there to make sure that we can do our work effectively, not to pressurise us to work harder. As a result, we have a lot of freedom and fun, but our productivity doesn’t suffer. And if you have initiative you’ll have a chance to propose your own ideas, and change the existing work tasks.
What are the negative parts to the job/industry?
Perhaps too much sitting inside and in front of the computer. The work is usually so engaging that you don’t really want to stop and go home, even though your manager tells you they don’t want you to work late nights.
The standard career path is available:
Graduate – Entry Level Developer – Mid Level Developer – Senior Developer – Architect/Tech Lead
but there are many more:
if you show interest and determination you can become a game designer, or a producer. Of course these roles are popular, but if you want it you can get it!
What are the prospects?
Working at a social gaming company gives you exposure to the newest technologies: cloud based software, high throughput systems, etc.
The environment is very agile with quick delivery life cycles and openness to quick change based on the results of the previous cycle.
At the same time what you do has almost an immediate impact on customer experience, so you learn how to work on live systems iteratively.
This work framework encourages development of methodological problem solving. You can’t solve everything at once, you need to make sure that users don’t suffer, as they can simply go away, and usually this hasn’t been done before.
This skillset is useful everywhere, at the same time being difficult to come by.
In your experience are you aware of any differences your role has between industries/sectors?
Reflection and The Future
What was it like coming into the industry?
It was simply great. I came from an academia background and before that I had a series of well paid but menial jobs, which basically boiled down to typing some others persons designs.
In this company I could immediately see how my analytical skillset, developed during my time at the University, can be put to great use. The lack of strong company structure allowed me to quickly find my niche.
I have a feeling that never before I’ve learned so much so quickly. Although not a gamer myself, I feel excited about the work I’m doing and I never find it boring.
I chose the company because it gave a promise of a flexible and collaborative environment and indeed it delivered on that promise!
Do you have any thoughts on the future of your role/industry?
The market is now heading towards mobile devices, but the skills required will be the same and are independent of the market really. I guess the greatest thing about this role is that in a rapidly changing, live, high throughput applications, you simply learn how to be agile and to adjust to new challenges. And this is something that is useful regardless.
What advice would you give someone entering your industry?
Target a few companies. Learn about their technology and challenges, get excited about it. Look for work like you were looking for good fun. Having a blog, being involved in the community, or having contributed to opens source projects is a great idea!