From interns to software engineers: Looking at growth and development at TomTom
Mehdi Comeau·Sep 15, 2023

From interns to software engineers: Looking at growth and development at TomTom

Mehdi Comeau blogjpeg
Mehdi Comeau
Sep 15, 2023 · 4 min read
Looking at growth and development at TomTom

A company is more than a place to work. It’s a place to grow and develop, as you continually gain new skills and experience to achieve your personal and professional goals. But what does that look like in practice? How does a company not only have a positive impact on the world, but also on its employees? To find out, we asked three software engineers at TomTom, who started out years ago in the company’s internship program.

It’s great to work for a purpose-driven company, where you have a positive impact on the world. But you have to ask: does your work also have a positive impact on you? Does where you spend most of your time support you in growing and developing to be your best self and achieve whatever it is you want to achieve in your life?

TomTom recognizes that TomTom’ers are not just workers – they’re people with their own set of personal goals and motivations. With this mindset, the company seeks to serve as a school and a springboard for growth and development. But how do you know if it’s really an effective part of the culture?

We asked former interns – who are now software engineers

We talked to Maja Stojkovic, Jovan Batnožić and Iva Gelev – three software engineers at TomTom’s Belgrade office. They’ve all been at TomTom for four years now and started in the company’s internship program, which has an impressive track record of turning interns into long-time TomTom’ers.

What’s in an internship program for programmers?

TomTom’s program in Belgrade gives interns a thorough experience that merges theory with practice. It’s designed to not only develop the know-how to be a professional programmer, but to also build leadership behaviors that help the participants own and influence their careers.

“It is an amazing transition from a student with no work experience to a programmer who’s not afraid of new challenges. The program consists of a theoretical bit which covers all important tools and concepts required for a great start as a programmer, as well as the part where you ‘get your hands dirty’ and create an end-to-end project, learning all sorts of tools and frameworks, experimenting with different languages and developing soft skills along the way.” – Iva Gelev, Software Engineer.

Like Iva, Jovan describes the program as “a profoundly valuable experience, because programming and engineering in academia is its own thing, often detached from reality, and this internship teaches you how software is developed in the real world. It teaches you practical experience. In fact, in Serbian we use the same word for ‘internship’ and ‘practical experience,’ and it's for a good reason. Older engineers are also engaged with the interns through the whole process. Even those who don't stay in TomTom afterwards certainly won't have wasted their time.”

Empowering careers in technology

Fast-forward to today, and a lot has changed for these past interns. They’ve expanded their skills while honing their practice, becoming confident programmers who know how to take ownership, simplify the complex and continue to get better every day.

When asked how his role has changed since the internship program, Maja says, “Quite a lot. In my day-to-day work, just some of the new technologies that I’ve had a chance to learn are Micronaut, Spring Boot, Kubernetes, Azure as a cloud provider and Databricks.”

Iva, who now specializes in cloud engineering, tells us, “I get to work with MS Azure on a daily basis. I was introduced to Docker, Kubernetes and Spring Boot, and lately I’ve gotten the chance to see what it feels like being a data scientist, by playing with Spark and Databricks.”

It’s not only the technology that’s keeping interns at TomTom, though. Jovan gives us a glimpse into the culture: “Everyone is relaxed, happy to communicate and help out and collaborate. The managers and everyone else are respectful and understanding, also of our personal lives. We are being treated with dignity, like people, not like expendable goods. The benefits are amazing, too. I was honestly surprised that a place as pleasant to work at as TomTom even existed.”

Actually, all three of the engineers expressed a similar sentiment around company culture. Iva also said, “Getting to go to work and not having the feeling that you’re doing it just to get paid is something that not many people experience these days. I’m one of the lucky ones who really enjoys going to the office, and that is the direct benefit of TomTom’s great culture.”

Grow and develop – benefits that last a lifetime

This year TomTom launched its expanded Grow and Develop benefits globally, which enhance its learning culture by giving every TomTom’er time, tools and opportunities to learn and grow their skills. For example, with a development budget and options for paid development leave.

So, how are these software engineers making use of the benefits?

Iva says, “I’ve seen there are some conferences being held around Europe about Cloud and DevOps that I’d like to attend,” adding that she’s also ready and “willing to explore anything that feels like it’s going to improve my skills.” TomTom’s development budget and paid development leave make it possible for Iva to take advantage of new opportunities as they arise.

Maja plans on spending the development budget “on tech books and on improving my language skills.” While Jovan admits, “I still haven't used very much of that budget. I would like to visit a conference or similar, of course, but even after four years at TomTom, I still often feel like I’m catching up to the extraordinary skills of many other (older) colleagues. Learning every day is a part of the job and you don't need a special budget for that.”

Iva also hints at behavioral growth, saying, “TomTom motivates you to work on your soft skills just as much as your technical ones. This can be helpful in your personal life as well.”

The engineers talk about their work and growth with a sense of accountability and a perspective tuned in to multiplying through collaboration. These are signs that TomTom’s Leadership Foundation, a set of behaviors, principles and values that every employee can apply to best achieve personal and professional success, is embedded in the culture and contributes to driving growth for both TomTom’ers and TomTom.

Learning never stops

Even after years at the company, these three software engineers show us that learning never stops at TomTom. There are opportunities for everyone to become better every day.

If you’re starting your career, one of TomTom’s internship programs that are offered at offices around the world are an exciting choice full of potential. The experience will also ease the often-tricky transition from intern to professional.

“I don’t think there’s a better internship program in Serbia than TomTom’s. I strongly recommend applying. I’ve never heard someone say anything negative about any part of it. You’ll see what being a team player really means, so if you haven’t been one yourself, prepare to learn how to become one. It’ll change your work experience a lot!” Iva says.

Maja agrees, adding, “TomTom’s internship program is the top choice for anyone who is trying to make his or her first steps into the industry.”

And if you’re still on the fence, Jovan says, “Just do it! It's the best decision you can make for your software engineering career.”

Whether you’re an intern, experienced software engineer or otherwise, it’s safe to say that you’ll have a wealth of support for your growth and development at TomTom.

Find your impact at TomTom.

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