At Reward Gateway, our Engineering team are responsible for developing and shipping huge, feature-rich products and tools for our platform; scalable technical solutions enabling thousands of companies to engage over five million employees daily. In this series, we sit down with a few of our superstar Engineers - from RG Newbies to Developers who have been with us for over a decade - to find out what it's like to work at Reward Gateway, what inspires them as Engineers and what up-and-coming Engineers need to know to score a fantastic career and make their own world a better place to work.
One of Reward Gateway’s first-ever hires in our Bulgarian office, Penka tells us about her journey as a PHP developer, how younger engineers can grow and what challenges she’s excited to take on.
Hi Penka, let’s start with a classic — how long have you been at RG?
I’ve been here for almost 7 years now, working as a PHP backend developer. I’m working with the SmartSpending team at the moment [Reward Gateway’s pioneering employee discounts program]. I probably work with about 5–6 people directly but we have a big team internationally.
Seven years is a decent time, especially for a developer! What’s kept you at RG?
Many things but most importantly my colleagues and the product. We’re a SaaS company so of course, we need to be constantly evolving. This is really important to us as developers because it brings up some unique and interesting challenges for us to solve professionally.
It’s not like you’re constantly working on the same small projects. You get interesting problems to solve and big projects to help scale.
I’ve heard that scaling up is one of your biggest engineering challenges right now — I hadn’t realised quite how big RG’s product base was or quite how much of a SaaS company you were.
Yes, our code base is, but we’re very focused now on building more and more Microservices [a newer approach to software development where products are made up of smaller independent services that can more easily communicate with each other].
We want to modernise our architecture, which is a challenge but also a great benefit for me as a professional.
It sounds like there’s a lot of tech to learn, especially over seven years. How do you keep up with evolving and changing technologies?
We have some dedicated learning software, Pluralsight, and what’s really important is that we also get dedicated time, during our work time, to work and learn on our own. Of course, everyone has their own commitments outside of work. I think it’s quite unique to have the opportunity to properly learn at work.
It’s also very flexible, I can say “I’m going to dedicate that time today” or tell my manager that I’ll be focusing on that with my time.
Work-wise, what’s coming up that you’re excited about?
Kind of what I’m working on already! SmartSpending is our oldest product, so we’re learning to deal with a lot of legacy code and improve that. And again, we’re focusing on microservices, so we’re figuring out what parts of our existing products should stay or what needs to go. It can be very challenging but will be really rewarding when we finish.
Sounds like you’ve had some great experience to share with newer developers. What would you say to anybody who was looking to join your team or starting out in their career — would you want someone to bring to an interview?
Apart from the technical skills, if you’re joining us as a junior, it’s important that you’re proactive and know you can speak your mind. Especially when you’re a junior, it’s very easy to feel afraid to join a conversation because you might not feel experienced enough or like you’ll get something wrong.
That’s really not the case, especially here. We’re trying to be very supportive of our new engineers, building our documentation and understanding what is missing for our developers to grow as soon as possible. And if people don’t tell us, we can’t improve those things.
If it’s a senior engineer applying, I enjoy new perspectives. Someone I can learn from; when you’ve spent as long working on specific products as I have, you always enjoy a new perspective on things.
Inspired? We’re always looking to grow our Engineering teams to work with more great people like Penka, to help us in our mission of making the world a better place to work. If you’re ready for a new challenge in your engineering career, regardless of what stage you’re at, we’d love to hear from you. Check out our open roles here. Or, find more inspiration and follow what we’re up at rg.co/lifeatrg