The mystery of returning employees: Episode 1 with Marcin Nowicki

People are coming back to Clurgo. But why? We don’t offer fruit Fridays, our lounge sofa fits only three, and there’s a sealed room on the third floor where developers go to scream in anguish. In a new series on our blog, we’ll try to find out what brings people back to us. Is there something we don’t know? Let’s investigate.

Hubert International Expansion Unit

15 March 2022

Clurgo, that ‘70s show: vintage, groovy, and jolly

Why working at Clurgo feels like being in a comedy show, how he became a meme star, what adorns the walls of his office, and yes – why did he decide to come back? This and more in conversation with Marcin Nowicki, a Java turned TypeScript developer who went there and back again.

You joined Clurgo in 2017, straight out of university. Was it a good place to start out?

Marcin Nowicki: Yes, I was very lucky. When it comes to Java, many university standards were already outdated, there was still a lot to learn. But I could always count on my older teammates in matters of code review. By “older” I mean more experienced; in fact, some were even younger than me. My entire team held each other’s backs as well.

At the time, I thought that the supportive atmosphere was there because the company had just been picking up speed, and corporate culture would seep in in the end. But here I am, five years later, and happy to report things have not changed for the worse.

What was your position at the time?

Java developer. Recently, though, I have been assigned to a new, exciting project for a foreign client from the Middle East. It’s based on Node.JS. By the way, there are tongue-in-cheek job posting generators with a checkbox: “Confuse Java with JavaScript”. It’s an old joke, but the truth is that laypeople still happen to take one language for the other, when in fact they are fundamentally different.

Switching to a new language must be a challenge.

Yes and no. With five years of experience behind me, I can only echo what others have said before – learning one programming language helps you quickly get the hang of others, even despite the differences.

Doesn’t it get boring, though?

I wouldn’t go that far. Of course, the more experience you get with various technologies, the more similarities you find, but I still find it an exciting adventure. Besides, there are other sources of satisfaction – for example getting more confident in what you do.

But also, it’s hard to get bored at Clurgo because new projects keep coming up. The maintenance stage in any project is never long enough for people to get stuck in it. There are always new stimuli and new things coming your way.

So why did you quit?

I got curious. Remember, Clurgo was my first job. I had never tried anything else before, so I wanted to “comparison shop” and experiment with new technologies. At the time, they were not in Clurgo’s portfolio.

How did that work out for you?

It was an interesting experience and I did take part in a couple of fascinating projects. But more importantly, I got a taste of the corporate culture. And I didn’t like it.


A theme song for Clurgo suggested by Marcin Nowicki

How is Clurgo not corporate?

For one thing, you do not have to follow a strict protocol on software. Any development environment is fine as long as you get the job done. Also, nobody spies on you, nobody assumes the worst. There’s a lot of trust and freedom, which I really appreciate.

Another thing is friendly people and laid back atmosphere. We don’t treat ourselves too seriously.

What do you mean?

Look at that board. It’s lined up with memes.

Memes?

Usually photos of Clurgo’s employees with funny captions. We make them ourselves. It’s mostly situational humor, so you won’t get it unless you know the context or the people involved.

I can see you’re frequently a character in them.

Yes, but I don’t mind it because it’s really good-natured.

Was it this friendliness and lightheartedness that lured you back to Clurgo?

Yes and no. It mattered, of course, but there was something else. I told you the reason I left was to experiment with technologies. Ironically, it was the same prospect that renewed my interest in Clurgo. I saw an ad they posted and found it tempting as the choice of technologies was vast. I decided it might be a great opportunity to expand my skills. That plus the atmosphere made me want to go back. Additionally, I brought along a close friend who was looking for a new job, too. We joined the DevOps team in a big project for a logistics company.

What about your desk? Do you keep anything personal on it?

I’m a tidy person so there’s not much clutter apart from an occasional snack. I like minimalism. You can’t even see any cables. I hid them.

So it’s all white walls and furniture?

Not quite. I do have a soft spot for decorations. It’s always nicer and more fun to be around plants and movie posters…

What posters?

Reservoir Dogs, Rocky, Marvel Cinematic Universe…

Do you go to the cinema with coworkers?

We often socialize. It can be a FIFA match, a board game session on the lunch break, a movie after work, or going out for a meal or drink. Just come up with an idea and someone will be willing to join in ;). There’s a drive to bond, to do stuff together, which goes beyond the usual constraints of a workplace. It’s also not hierarchical. You can’t feel or tell from the way somebody talks to you that they’re “above” you, even if it’s a CTO or CEO.

Is there any film that comes to mind when you think about Clurgo?

I can’t really think of a film, but I know what would make a great theme song. Remember that scene in The Guardians of the Galaxy when the Starlord is walking to the cave to steal the orb? He’s listening to a song on a walkman. The same song plays in the opening credits of “F is for Family”, a comedy show by Bill Burr. The tune is upbeat and cheerful, brimming with optimism. In the opening, a guy soars through the sun-filled air. He’s young and fit, full of hope and energy. That’s how I feel when working at Clurgo. I want this feeling to last as long as possible.

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