May 23, 2022

How I Moved from a Team Lead Role to Being an Associate Full Stack Developer

Steven Verlinden
Full Stack Engineer

Steven Verlinden is an associate full stack developer on the Inventory team at GetYourGuide. He explains how he pivoted his career from working on the business team, to tech.

In this series of growth stories, we’re highlighting the people who paved their own career paths within GetYourGuide.

I’m Steven, and I am currently working as an associate full stack engineer on the Inventory team. Prior to joining the tech side of our business, I spent a little under three years on our Supply Operations team.

Before GetYourGuide, I worked in the beer industry. I’m originally from Belgium, so I had to work with beer at least once in my life :) In my free time, I love anything outdoors. Hiking, climbing… anything adventurous.


My career path

I started at GetYourGuide in March 2019. After working as a supply analyst for about half a year, the team expanded, and I got a chance to take on a leadership role as a team lead of the Inventory Management team. Our team’s mission was to ensure that GetYourGuide’s experiences were of the highest possible quality. It was an exciting learning journey, and my first role as a people manager.

Changing from an individual contributor (IC) role to a people manager comes with many learnings. My main adjustment was shifting my mindset — success was no longer dependent on only myself, but on the success of the entire team.

On a daily basis this meant spending less time focusing for long stretches of time on a single problem, and making space to unblock others and guide them to solve the challenges they’re facing.

As a manager, it’s not about how much you can get done, but how much your team gets done together.

On the 1st October 2021, I made another big change to associate full stack developer on the Inventory team. Where did my motivation for this move come from? Prior to joining GetYourGuide, I worked in the FMCG industry, far away from tech. At GetYourGuide, I saw first hand the impact that our engineering team had. The ability to create applications from scratch that can scale incredibly fast and wide. I wanted to be a part of this!

From self-guided learning, to bootcamps

The new role is very different from anything I’ve done before. I really had to start from the very beginning.

I started learning on my own for a couple of months using Youtube tutorials, Udemy courses, you name it. That’s when I started to realize I really enjoyed it, and doubled down on this new learning path. I enrolled in a part-time web development bootcamp, and spent the next six months coding 25 hours per week in addition to my full-time role.

One of my most memorable experiences from that period was when I was looking for an apartment in Berlin. Rather than checking rental websites multiple times a day, I put my newly acquired coding skills to practice and built a scraper to do the work for me! After some time, the hard work starts paying off.

Of course, being a developer is broader than just writing code. The competencies and knowledge I’ve gained in my previous roles will help me better connect the features we develop with the business realities. For example, I learned that our supplier base is diverse, and that it’s critical to take this into consideration when building tooling for them. I’m looking forward to sharing this context with my team!

Talk with people about big changes

The career move I made is quite drastic, and a big change is always scary. The hardest part was to convince myself to actually make the career switch. Even after coding for about one year, going from something on the side, to actually turning it into your career is big.

I overcame this by talking to many people, and trying to understand the reality of the role as much as possible. But 100% certainty doesn’t exist.

During these conversations I would focus on understanding the day-to-day life of an engineer, and what it would require to become ‘excellent’. I was looking to understand if my idea of the role matched the reality, and that this reality matched the things that give me energy in my life.

Advice for folks looking to pivot in their careers

My first recommendation would be to take a step back and think about where you are in life beyond purely your career. I think it’s very tempting to look at a career only, but let’s not forget that there’s a lot more going on in life than work.

Besides that, I love to optimize for things that give me energy. When making a decision, I’ll look at what my energy givers are, and what my energy drainers are. Then I’ll try to remove the energy drainers or minimize their impact and maximize the things that give me energy.

Finally, I strongly believe in a concept created by Jim Collins that talks about starting with low-cost, low-risk tests, and concentrating resources on a big bet once you have evidence to back it up. I applied this idea in two ways:

First, there’s no need to make a big change all at once. Try to code one line, join a talk about mountain climbing, or anything else. No need to climb Mount Everest on your first day.

Second, get started. If you don’t take the first step, you’ll never get a result. Start small, but dedicate time and energy to the change.  

Interested in a career at GetYourGuide? Check out our Careers Page.

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