After winning a programming competition sponsored by WiseTech, Jacob Dunk joined the business as a casual software developer while studying a Bachelor of Engineering.
Two years into his role, his development skills accelerated and he decided to move to full-time work and part-time study. Eight years later, Jacob is now a Team Leader and will graduate from university in the next couple of years.
We spoke to Jacob about his career journey so far, what he loves about solving problems and how he’s been able to shape his career at WiseTech.
Can you share a bit about how you came to join WiseTech?
I was in a programming competition that was run by the UTS programming society which was sponsored by WiseTech. I competed in that competition and did really well, then Richard invited me and the other winners back to the office to celebrate. In that interaction, I met Richard and we had a good chat and he invited me to a team event on Friday, which I was quite excited about.
Because of UTS and the programming society, I had a lot of connections at WiseTech already so I was eager to catch-up with a bunch of friends. When I was there, I started talking to Richard again, and he in fact offered me a job.
I was 19 at the time and I wanted to learn more about being a professional software developer, so I took him up on the offer and joined WiseTech as a casual. I started working one day a week until eventually going full-time two years later.
What was your first impression of WiseTech?
My first impression of WiseTech was just coming in and seeing the sea of monitors and developers. You get an impression of how much collective knowledge is here, and that really appealed to me.
As we went through the office and I learned about some concepts like TDD (test-driven development), which I hadn't been exposed to before, I thought a lot of it was really novel. Then the other conversations I had with developers just reinforced a lot of what I was feeling, which was that this is a really smart place full of great developers, which made me even more interested to work here.
Can you share a bit about your decision to transition to full-time work and part-time university?
It was quite a significant event that happened when I was 21. I was looking towards the future trying to think of what I what I wanted to do. I was working one or two days a week at WiseTech and chugging through my degree doing three or four subjects at uni.
I realized that when it came to the opportunity to learn, I saw a lot more happening at WiseTech than at university, because I was surrounded by lots of talented developers and working on really complex problems. I decided I wanted to work full-time and take on more responsibility at WiseTech and drop back to part-time study, so I spoke with my Team Lead at WiseTech and he was really supportive and it all went through quite smoothly.
Did you ever imagine in those early days that you’d become a Team Lead before graduating with your degree?
No, I didn't imagine that in the slightest. At the time I was working on programming contracts which I enjoyed, but I was frustrated working in isolation. I didn't feel like I had a chance to learn from others and to really pick the brains of more experienced developers.
So my expectation starting at WiseTech was that I might stay here a few years and learn what I can and if I start to feel that slow down, then maybe move on. But it never slowed down, and I kept getting new opportunities and learning more and found myself all of these years later still here and loving it.
I don’t know if my career would’ve progressed this way or this quickly if I was somewhere other than WiseTech. I definitely think the attitude and work ethic of our people gels very well with me, and that's helped me excel in that regard. I've received a lot of encouragement here that’s helped me develop my people skills and understand and connect with people better. So maybe if I had gone to somewhere else, that people-oriented focus might not have happened.
Why have you stayed at WiseTech for more than eight years?
It's not one thing. I'm only ever presented with more opportunities or more unique experiences, which keeps me interested and engaged and constantly learning. But beyond the learning opportunities, I've met so many amazing, talented people here. The more teams I get exposed to, the more great developers I meet, the more friends I’ve made. So there's really both sides of it has kept me going, the opportunity to learn and grow and the people I get to do it with.
Something that appeals to me is getting to solve challenging problems, but more importantly, human problems, which is where I work best. This is really the situation I'm in right now when I'm working closely with people who use my software. I use what I build, because I get to understand their problems deeply and provide them a solution and see that satisfaction when the solution works. So having that short feedback loop and being able to see the gratitude from the people who use what I have poured so much time and effort into is really rewarding.
I also very strongly believe in climate change and I would like to do what I can to solve it, and that's a very difficult task for any one person. So if the best contribution that I can make with my skills and my time is to optimize the transport industry, which is one of the biggest contributors, then I'm happy to do that. That's something I'm proud to say I do.
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