Good morning Vicky, first of all thank you for making time for this interview. Can you briefly introduce yourself?
Hi, I'm Vicky Laurijssen. I've been working at PHPro since April 2012, for almost 8 years. I'm actually one of the first employees that PHPro has hired. I am PHP developer and technical lead architect. I am mainly involved in e-commerce projects, primarily Magento and soon OroCommerce.
Super interesting! Why did you choose web development? Is it because of your studies or did you decide to do it yourself?
In the end, I did study for it. As an eighteen-year-old I had an ASO-degree and I didn't know at all what I wanted to do.
I went to university to study mathematics because I thought that astronomy sounded very 'fancy' and would be interesting, but I didn't know what I could achieve with it later on. After a year and a half it turned out to be a bit difficult and I quit. Since I still had half a school year and could not register for another course, I started making websites with 'my crazy head'. I taught myself HTML and CSS and that was really something I liked to do. From this interest I followed a course in "Graphic and digital media". Unfortunately the training was more focused on web design and less on programming.
Did you find programming more interesting than design?
I was also interested in computer science, but this seemed a bit dull to me.
The course was mainly focused on desktop applications and programming. Less focused on internet applications and that was a pity. To create Internet applications seemed much more interesting to me at the time as it is also more visual. That's why I had hoped that the graphic and digital media course would be a bit more technical, but it wasn't. When I was hired for my first job, I wanted to learn more about the things I found interesting.
This was also disappointing. Then I decided to study Applied Computer Science in order to get the necessary technical knowledge.
It graces you that you have followed your heart and immersed yourself in your interests.
I knew I could program a bit from my past experience. At university, I had a course in "Principles of Programming in Java". That was one of the few courses I passed and I even had good results for it.
Did you work for another employee before you started at PHPro?
I had a role as a web designer and developer before I started at PHPro. The company I worked for was mainly focused on event management. I did everything web related, creating banners in Photoshop and creating and sending out newsletters. It was rather simple and marketing oriented.
Did your knowledge and background in graphics design helped you with web development?
I see it as something positive. I understand graphic designers and know what they pay attention to and what they look at. This is useful if I have to build the website.
You already have experience with HTML, CSS, graphics and programming. In the meantime, you have also gained work experience. How did you end up at PHPro?
During my Applied Informatics training I also had to do an internship. I wanted to do something with PHP.
I ended up at GroupWave for an internship project. Here I created a CV application (predecessor of Faradoo, internal tool for managing individual curricula nvdr.).
The idea was to create an environment where we could fill in all the details of a CV. Third parties could consult this CV and print it out in PDF format in a template of their choice. The initial idea was developed by me in 2011, at that time in Zend Framework 1. My internship supervisor was Ken Janssen, he started at PHPro around 2012 and they were still looking for PHP developers, which is how I ended up at PHPro. So I started and stayed here!
Why do you like working at PHPro? What is your best experience at PHPro in these 8 years?
It depends. The work I do and can do at PHPro is the type of job I like to do in general.
In my previous job there were three of us and I was the "specialist" while I didn't feel I had enough knowledge. I had to take care of all the technical solutions, which was actually a bit odd. I also didn't have anyone to fall back on, which was a pity.
When I started at PHPro I was a real "junior" but you're surrounded with 20-30 PHP developers who will help you where needed. If you have any questions or problems you can communicate about them openly and they will help you right away.
You also have a lot of possibilities within your job. If you say that you want to do something completely different, PHPro will listen to you.
Joke Puts, a colleague of mine, has always been a PHP developer and has now decided that she wants to take on more of a PO (Project Owner) role. This was no problem at all. You get the chance to pursue your interests.
What I also like is that you get a new project with us about every 6 months. I like this variety too. If you have a project that you don't like, you can easily indicate this and they will always try to put someone else on it. You can actually reinvent your own job a bit without having to work somewhere else.
Not to forget, I have a lovely team with a good atmosphere and a good relationship with my managers. They engage in dialogue and listen.
Personally, I think it's really important that you have a good relationship with your management. They support you to do your job well and better, which is cool.
"You have the benefits of a large enterprise, such as the many legal benefits and services, but also the benefits of a small enterprise, such as having an "island" with your colleagues. You will not immediately feel like you are just a number."
What about the girl power within the developer's life?
A lot of women work at PHPro. Barely 10% of the graduating computer science students are women. At the moment there are 7 women out of the 60-65 employees. That's a lot of fun!
What was your best project within PHPro so far?
Essentiel, not so much the project itself. I started there in 2013 and today they are still customers of PHPro. The contact with the customer is always positive. They listen to what you say and suggest and understand it too.
It's always nice to see that they appreciate our work and collaborations after all these years.
"Djezes, that was really hard to do!"
What was the hardest moment at PHPro?
It's difficult when you're with a client, where you feel they don't know immediately where they want to go.
Sometimes you also have to work with parties that are not so professional, which is always a challenge to get the right information from them. But there's nothing that really stands out that I thought "djezus that was impossible to do".
Last but not least, what are your good intentions for 2020? What do you see yourself in the to come?
OroCommerce. The plan would be to start a first project within PHPro. If I could work it out, that would be fantastic. In 2020 we will get to know OroCommerce inside out.
That passion and interest to continue to learn and grow graces you as a person! Thank you for this interview and good luck in your career!