May 5, 2022

A Year and a Half at Atolye15

On an autumn day when the pandemic was still in full effect, my phone suddenly rang. I remember I couldn't pick up, and when I called the number back, I met Ceren from the Atolye15 team in the IT Recruiter position. With the phone call that came when I least expected it, I participated in the candidate evaluation process at Atolye15 and entered a period whose outcome would change my life.

Throughout my interview process, which lasted for about a month, I constantly learned new things about Atolye15. And each time, being able to move on to the next stage made me think, "I wonder if it will happen this time?" The process was so detailed and meticulously planned that I realized it would never be a coincidence for someone to join the Atolye15 Team. Even if I was eliminated, I would have learned a lot. And when my interview process was finally complete, everything was positive, and I became part of the team in November 2019.

A collage of a young man, wearing an Atolye15 hoodie and having fun in the snow at the Atolye15 Winter Retreat.

I must admit that I was unaware of what awaited me in the first days of my employment. I remember that when I saw the introductory e-mails and the HR procedure prepared by the company, I was surprised we actually had such benefits. In those days, if they had said, "In the future, you will also be part of the product development we offer here at Atolye15." I would not have believed it at all and would have been incredibly surprised.

Since the first day I joined the Atolye15 team, I have been working on a big-scale project in Germany. I joined the team when the project was just getting started, so I was able to see the first stages of the project as it was being developed. After the onboarding process, which took about 1-2 months, I was able to develop the first features and fix bugs thanks to the support of the experienced team inside. I can't remember clearly at the time, but the first feature I contributed to was a module where the user could draw something on the canvas, just like in Microsoft Paint. Thanks to Fabric.js, we were enabling the user to draw on the screen, applying our own logic using React and Apollo, and storing it in Azure Blob Storage.

Seven Atolye15 developers and PMs in the İzmir office during a large-scale deployment.
During a large-scale deployment :)

When I take a retrospective look since the first day I started working, I feel that I have come a long way and improved myself a lot here at Atolye15. Just because I am a software developer, don't think that I have only advanced myself in software. The natural system here pushes you to think like a product manager, or a UI designer if need be. You have to develop a versatile thinking system because it is the foundation of Atolye15. The team questions everything thoroughly. And there is only one reason for this; everyone loves taking responsibility and supporting each other. In some cases, I even take a break and digest the feature I need to develop in my head.

Some of the features we develop are so comprehensive and intricate that they take a couple of weeks to design, and the whole team has to be present and work together at that moment. Speaking of which, let me tell you about how we balance our work with our social life at Atolye15. When we had to work as a team, considering the conditions brought by the pandemic, one of us said, “Let's go into camp for a week and develop this feature.” And we all believed in this idea! At the end of the day, not one group, but all of us, the whole Atolye15 team, found ourselves at the Atolye15 Summer Retreat’21 with our suitcases in our hands. For three days in Marmaris, we had so much fun, relieved our stress, and spent quality time with each other.

As a matter of fact, Atolye15 Summer Retreat was a short break where we would all refresh ourselves for two days. We were going to have a meeting on one of the days, but the vacation fairies must have prevailed! Because on that day too, we had a lot of fun just like the other days. Those three days we spent in Marmaris were especially special for me. I can say that in that unfortunate time, we always had to work from home, it felt like medicine.

A collage of Summer Retreat’22 photos, showing the Atolye15 team posing with water guns and waving flags behind a pool.
Atolye15 Summer Retreat - 2021 @Marmaris

What I've described above sounds great, doesn't it? The people inside really know what they're doing, and they have formed a team that has made a habit of having fun while working. We even have a teammate who is only responsible for the happiness of the team. Vacations only go so far, of course. At the end of those awesome three days, we refueled our energy and got back to work. From backlog meetings to technical planning, many meetings followed each other day after day. While going through the tasks in JIRA, we took into account the value that the product would add to the user, not just simply what the customer wanted from us. We offered our suggestions to provide a better user experience by always doing more than what the customer asked us to do. In addition to customer requests, there is a team inside that always wants to push ourselves and the project to greater heights. Now, isn't it a great thing to have such a culture?

Especially in the project I worked on, we succeeded in creating a system that serves tens of thousands of users. Nowadays, we are developing very complex features for this application. The UI, backend, and operation of the project have evolved into quite a large structure that fascinates me and continues to evolve. 

As time went by, the weather started to get cold as I started to approach the end of my first year at Atolye15. I sometimes think about those days and how far we have come together as a team.

Anyway, let's get back to our topic; the weather got colder, but the energy and spirit of the team did not change under any circumstances. The Atolye15 team scattered all around the country met at our headquarters in Izmir and organized an unforgettable New Year party.

A young blond girl holding the Atolye15 New Year kit filled with gifts and a man in a Santa hat making cocktails.
Atolye15 New Year Party’22 @Atolye15 Headquarters

After the New Year party, we got off to a quick start. In the first week of 2022, a new Intern Bootcamp was organized by Atolye15. The Atolye15 Intern Bootcamp is a full-day event where we get to know new talents who will join our team and work together with us on projects. At this event, our purpose is to develop projects together and get to know each other. Then we start a new adventure at Atolye15 with the team member we choose.

But something was different; While I attended the Intern Bootcamp as a candidate in the previous years, this time, I became a speaker at the event. I explained the JavaScript Development we did at Atolye15 to the attendees. While I was listening to the speakers, sitting at those same tables in the past years, now I was the speaker. Like every other Atolye15 event, this one was an incredible experience and pleasure for me as well.

A group of people At the 8th Intern Bootcamp posing behind a big Atolye15 statue and people sitting in a lecture hall.
8th Atolye15 Intern Bootcamp

As time passed, the project I was working on grew bigger and bigger, and we couldn't remain as mere bystanders. We grew along with the project. And as we grew, we even split. We are now three different teams working on the same project. While planning all this, we even discussed how we would communicate in this new structure as well as how things would work, because we never wanted to bring a bureaucratic system to Atolye15. Because, inside, there is already a strong and safe structure where we can always express our opinions freely and where our ideas matter. Most importantly, we have not lost this culture even as our  team and projects grew larger and larger. 

In order to relieve the intensity and stress that comes with the growth of the project and the team, we received news of yet another vacation. This time, we were going on a Winter Retreat. The whole Atolye15 team met at a hotel covered in snow in Bolu, Abant. Trust me, vacations like these are great blessings to save yourself from the stress of work. Because we work in front of a screen all day, and that can naturally tire us out. An event where you don't think about work for a few days and make memories with your teammates is a really huge advantage.

A group of people in winter coats walking in the snow carrying an Atolye15 flag and posing by the frozen Abant lake.
Atolye15 Winter Retreat - 2021 @Abant

I count myself lucky to be part of a team that does such admirable work and always knows how to have fun and laugh together. Sometimes I think to myself, “What will I remember about Atolye15 one of these days?” It won't be our tiredness at the end of the day or our arguments. What I will remember are the beautiful moments we experienced on those special days I have been mentioning.

Remember, although we cannot choose most things, we can choose where we work and our teammates. And that’s what I did. :)

Alperen Türköz

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