Tell us a little bit about your background?
My name is Manuel González, I am 32 years old, I currently live in Helsinki but come from a small town called Vilagarcia in northwestern Spain. I went to the University of Vigo, located around 150km from my hometown, and graduated as Master of Science in Software engineering.


How did you end up in Finland?

It was a fun coincidence really; I did an exchange program through my university in Reykjavík, Iceland, where I instantly bonded with the Finnish students, to the amazement of my countrymen. I didn’t find Finnish people hard to talk to or shy at all. One of them was also to become my girlfriend so when I graduated I wanted to come work here.

What made you apply to Digital Foodie?
While looking for jobs I found Digital Foodie inspirational and cool-looking. I liked the website and somehow the culture of the company seemed family-like as opposed to a colder corporate-like culture where I’d worked before. Also the concept seemed good so overall it seemed like a very interesting employer.

You started at DF a couple of months ago (May 2016) so you’re quite new. Can you tell us a little bit about your first week?
Well, starting at a new job, I remember being quite nervous and stressed. I actually had neck cramps for being so tense all the time, haha. I wasn’t so much nervous about being able to deliver, I was more concerned about fitting in and adjusting to the new group and culture. In small companies these things are really important. After the first week I started to feel very comfortable though, I could see that I was really going to like this place.

“In a start-up company, things can sometimes get really busy but that’s exactly why it’s so interesting.”

Does the company seem how you thought it would be?
It does, yes. At orientation the first thing I was asked to do was to build my own desk – I think it kind of describes the culture here: we’re all builders one way or another and self-management is key. In a start-up company, things can sometimes get really busy but that’s exactly why it’s so interesting.

Can you describe the work culture at Foodie with three words?
Open, collaborative, family-like.

“The most beautiful thing for me is learning something new and then being able to share it.”

What do you do at Digital Foodie?

I’m a backend developer. Right now I’m learning the backend processes of one of our customers. You need to know exactly how everything works before being able to build new features. My work comprises a lot of deducing and researching but I find that a positive thing. I’m still putting the pieces in the puzzle on how everything is connected in our intelligent and fairly complex system.

What do you like about your job?
Many things but two especially. First of all, the fact that I get to use so many new technologies and components of the stack is very motivating for me. Secondly, the work that I do here is visible: it influences others in a very concrete way. Frontend people will be using the work I’ve done and then pass it on to customer projects and in the end, to the consumers. That’s cool, I feel like I’m making a difference and leaving a mark of myself. The most beautiful thing for me is learning something new and then being able to share it.

“We have a great product and it’s thrilling to see how far we can go.”

What are you hoping to learn or gain experience of here?
My main goal right now is to learn all of the stack and being able to do cool stuff with it – I’m highly motivated by learning new things. I’m also very interested in the so-called metaprogramming tasks: how to organize code, how to make people and teams collaborate – guidelines, basically. Guidelines to me mean being able to share what I know and to help others. I want to onboard people and create structures that will support it.

What kind of plans do you have for the future?
Well right now I’m very happy as I am. I would definitely like to see Foodie go big in the US and continue being part of this success story. We have a great product and it’s thrilling to see how far we can go. As for long term plans, informed decision-making and defining development paths is something I’m hoping to specialize in so I’ll continue gaining valuable backend work experience and learning as much as I can.

You’ve lived in Helsinki for a few years already. Any good tips for other foreigners on how to cope here?
I would definitely recommend giving this place a chance: it’s a really easy place to live in. The sea is always close, the public transportation works extremely well and even though Helsinki is not the biggest of cities, there’s still so much to do and see. I would also urge to embrace the climate instead of fighting it – there’s so much beauty in the harshness, and yes, it does get warm in the summer! This goes for the Finnish people as well. They might seem harsh if you come from a country like Spain, but you need to understand that the quietness and certain reservation is not rudeness. Finns are actually very polite and considerate, and they have a high respect for others’ personal space. They don’t want to disturb you unless necessary.

Bonus question: name some websites you visit daily?
Twitter
, ycombinator.com, Reddit, culttt.com, github.com

Thank you for the interview, Manuel!