Our IT and technology department is expanding and we have welcomed two new colleagues within the last month. Meet Mustafa Arikan, the front-end developer from Turkey who is currently working with the logistics infosystem UI shipment team. And Oleg Koskin, full stack developer from the Ukraine who is working with the parcel machine team.
To start with, please describe shortly your background. Where do you come from and what did you study at the university?
Oleg: I come from the heart of the Ukraine from a city called Kharkiv. I studied at the National Aerospace University “Kharkiv aviation institute”, I learned computer science in aircraft engineering at university and one of the task was to build plugins for CAD software (AutoCAD, SolidWork, etc), but after the school, I chose more pragmatic way and went to IT.
Mustafa: I am from Turkey from the third largest city called Izmir. I studied IT teaching at the university but after finishing school, I decided not to be a teacher but to go on with the software programming.
Out of all the countries, why did you decide to move to Estonia?
Oleg: We in the Ukraine know that Estonia is small country with small population but has high potential in high tech. One day, I saw a Twitter tweet about a job offer – not Omniva’s – in the tech sector in Estonia. And I thought, why not. So I contacted the guy from the recruitment agency, we had a talk, he introduced me about Estonia and that specific job but at the end, I decided it was not the type of company I would like to work at. Then the recruiter told me what about Omniva and introduced me the current job. When I found out that Omniva meant Eesti Post, then I had the real flashback – when I order stuff from Aliexpress, the parcels come via Estonia with Eesti Post stamp as the fastest way to deliver a parcel from China. So yeah, I was kind of your customer already in the Ukraine before moving to Estonia. I liked the company and decided to give it a try (laughing).
Mustafa: For about one year, I was thinking of moving to another place, maybe Amsterdam, Berlin, somewhere in Poland. I was not sure. One day I saw an advert in LinkedIn about the website called workinestonia.com and started reading more about the possibilities. And I thought to myself that this looks good, why not give it a try. I was the first one of my friends to move here and all of them asked me why I was going to Tallinn, out of all the places? (laughing). But now, some of my other friends are also coming to work here.
You come from a Turkish city that is the third largest in the country and has over 3 million people living there. Isn’t Tallinn kind of…small for you?
Mustafa: Well exactly. Izmir is very crowded and Tallinn is…nice and small. You know, I am an IT person…I like to be alone and don’t like when it’s too crowded. This is whySilicon Valley is also far from the city centre, so the IT people can think (laughing).
What did you know about Estonia before?
Oleg: Since secondary school, I’ve known that the climate is similar to the Ukraine, so a little bit cold here. And Estonia is trying to be the Silicon Valley of Europe, you are known for cryptocurrency, e-governance, e-residency. You Estonians do mostly everything with the ID card and without not moving away from home. It is easy. But in the Ukraine, I would have to go to many different departments and write everything by hand. Very annoying.
Mustafa: I would like to add that there are also social reasons. I mean, Tallinn is a very cosmopolitan city, you can find different nationalities living here. It is easy to get a job here just speaking English and Estonians don’t hesitate talking in English. And compared to other European capitals, it is cheaper to live here. Makes life easier.
Can you spot some cultural differences between Estonia and your home country?
Mustafa: Well, in Estonia, the traffic is very regular, everybody follows the rules and gives way to pedestrians. Whereas in Turkey..it is not like that at all (laughing). And the food is different. Sometimes I just go to McDonald’s since I know what to expect, I know the food. When I go to the market, then I never know if its pork or beef or what there is, and I just go for the chicken. Also in the canteen here at Omniva, I always ask for chicken and potatoes, since I don’t speak Estonian and don’t understand the menu.
Also one other thing. When you are in Turkey and in the bus, then random people on the bus usually talk to each other, you know, small talk. Especially old women, they want to know everything, where are you going, what do you study, where do you work etc..in Estonia, nobody does that, it’s great! You can ride the bus silence. Awesome.
Oleg: Um, maybe one difference is that the Estonian way of life is very well organized. I mean, if you have laws, then you follow those instructions and laws. Secondly, I am amazed that even though Tallinn is by the Baltic Sea, when you go to the market, not so much fresh fish is sold. I wonder why is that?
At the first glance Estonians are little bit introverted and don’t care about surrounding people. They may not sent response on email in proper time, not take off they backpack in overcrowd tram. When you overcome the first “barrier”, they are sincere and open.
In addition to cultural differences, are there any IT work related differences?
Mustafa: Well, in Turkey we were using Slack for internal communications, but here we are using Skype – I don’t know why, maybe because it’s an Estonian invention? But I personally like Slack more. But in work related topics, we are using agile and scrum more and more, so that is good. Also, we used Gerrit programme for code review – the code got approved when it got at least 4 reviews.
Mustafa: Yes, the same was in Turkey. For example, new technology is coming, one or two from the team gets the task, starts researching, at the end they prepare a presentation with plusses and minuses, and present them to the team. Then the team decides, whether to use the new technology or not.