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Employee Spotlight: catch up with our software engineer – Daaf de Hair

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Daaf de Hair
Daaf de Hair is a Software Engineer at Be Informed. In this blog, Daaf tells us about his first year at Be Informed, shares what he has accomplished, and speaks on what makes him enjoy working here so much.

Rise to the challenge and master the art of programming

Daaf, you have been with us for about a year now. What makes you most proud looking back on the past year?

Yes, I joined Be Informed on the 1st of January 2022 so it’s been a year now. Personally, what I’m most proud of is being able to catch up with the rest of the Product Development (PD) team since this is my first ever programming job. And I have to say, the Be Informed platform is a very complex product.

I recall my job interview with my current manager. According to him, it takes a certain kind of person to understand the product and get to know the development process behind Be Informed. So to be honest, I was a tad uncertain in the first couple of months. Would I be able to rise to the challenge and master the art of programming more profoundly? And would I be able to catch up with my colleagues who have been programming for 15 years? Luckily it all worked out well!

I have to admit that leaving my previous job, which came with a stable contract, and taking up a completely new path to a programming career was a bit of a risk. However, I am very proud of the fact that I accepted that challenge. And fortunately, it all worked out. So far, I’ve received a lot of positive feedback from my colleagues as well, so being able to do this makes me feel really good. I think I have accomplished quite a bit.

Other than my personal development, I and the PD team worked hard last year. And we brought in quite a few super useful new features. We presented them in last year’s “What’s New? Deep Dive” as well. The error handling and the asynchronous and callback functionality are just a couple of prime examples. All of these features were super useful and many people appreciated them.

These achievements make me feel like we have built something that is immediately going to help users of the Be Informed platform. It also means the value of the platform is continuously increasing. On a personal note, realizing that I’ve contributed to an even better product makes me happy. I coded a part of the solution. I helped in the process of building it. And I helped document our work. Being able to make all of these significant contributions felt good.

software engineer

An exciting yet challenging journey

Please tell us a little bit about yourself. What has brought you to where you are at the moment?

Basically, I spent much of my twenties working after having quit college. I tried three different studies and found none of them to my liking. That, however, meant that I had to work without a degree and just had to take any job that came along. I wasn’t exactly spoilt for choice.

Starting with a job as a helpdesk employee, I managed to grow from call center work into administrative work and finally into automation. Around two years ago, I decided I wanted to really master a programming language, so I started a Java course online. After doing that for about a year and a half, I reckoned it was time to start looking for a job in programming. By that time, I had not only finished most of the online courses from IntelliJ but also had my own Node JS project running online. After three extensive talks with several people at Be Informed, we decided to try to see if I would fit in. Luckily, this dive into the deep worked out fine.

What are the exciting projects that you are working on at the moment?

Error handling is a big feature. We have poured a lot of effort and time into it lately. When I say “error handling” I’m talking about the opportunities that people have to build and configure their own errors inside the Be Informed platform. In the past, when something went inside the studio configurators didn’t have any robust options. The new error handling components allow someone to easily identify errors and either report them to an end user or try to handle them within the program flow itself. This gives users the opportunity to resolve formerly disruptive situations in a much more efficient and user-friendly way.

Other than that I’ve been working on big implementations of new product features. Error handling, async and coding, but also the process of refining the solution specifically geared towards the implementation. I also handle documentation processes, improve functionality for the program, analyze what we want to change, and think about how to make a product better.


An extremely knowledgeable and helpful team

How do you describe your team? The collaboration, the vibe, the energy?

First and foremost, I would describe the PD team as extremely knowledgeable. I have worked with many senior programmers, tech leaders, and software architects, but I’m really baffled now and then by the way in which our senior colleagues approach programming. They possess a vast amount of knowledge about programming languages, about structures that they have built and want to build, and about this huge code base that currently has about 10 million different lines of code.

Our CTO, Gartjan Grijzen, who possesses some “God-like” layers of knowledge, resides on a different and even higher level. An example: Gartjan was working on a very specific piece of code. When someone came in and asked him something completely different, he was able to switch lightning-fast and provide the answer to the question in a split second. After this short interruption, he immediately went back to what he was doing before. So yes, extremely knowledgeable is definitely the first thing I would think of when describing Be Informed. Helpfulness is another key trait of the organization.

If you’re new here in PD and you want to pick up the job, our colleagues will really open up to you. They will put in their best effort to help you and give you the tools and the information that you need to succeed. They know the climb because they’ve been there and done that. And they realize how complex the product is. What I really like is that they know how much time it requires to learn something. So they will open up their agenda for you and make time to invest in you. They really want you to learn the ropes as quickly as possible and realize that this benefits the entire organization.

Small focus group on a complex project
You usually work in a very small and specialized team of two to three people and approach the complex code and functions. What you make is a very specific block that people can use. So a lot of collaboration, fully focused on perfecting the end result, is needed.

The vibe is usually very relaxed.
There is no strict and clear-cut hierarchy. Asking the CTO for direct feedback is never an issue. He gives me lots of useful tips in a very casual fashion. But at the same time, everyone is super focused on the product and delivering top-notch quality as well.


Don’t be afraid to fail or to ask for help

Sounds great, Daaf! Last but not least: can you give us some words of wisdom for upcoming Be Informers?

Don’t be afraid to fail or to ask for help. The Be Informed platform can handle high levels of complexity, which means that there are a lot of things you need to learn. As a newbie with little experience in the complex field of programming, I needed to learn a lot. We all want to be knowledgeable, independent and capable. Working at Be Informed means that you will sometimes have to change that particular mindset. There will be moments in which you are going to need some help.

On a personal level, I realized that asking for help is not a bad thing at all. I have had a minor change of mind and got to work on my personality and professional attitude.

Thank you for your time, Daaf!

Do you want to be a part of our IT heroes team? Check out our job openings here.