Life at Ataccama
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Life at Ataccama

Spreading Ataccama Culture With Our ATA Ambassadors

Love what you do? Love it enough to share it with the world?

Our Ataccama Ambassadors are engineers, marketing experts, consultants and leaders who all represent what we stand for — and love talking about their work!

These colleagues dive into their professional passions by presenting at conferences, organizing awesome meetups, writing articles, and anything imaginable to share their ideas with the world. And they do it all while representing our team.

We’re grateful to know them and proud to call them our fellow Ataccamers. Let’s take a closer look at what exactly this program is all about, and who our Ambassadors are.

What is an Ataccama Ambassador?

Short and cheesy answer: all of us! When you meet someone who works at Ataccama they represent us and our values every day. But we have some colleagues who choose to go above and beyond to share what they do at Ataccama and why they love working here.

What is the program?

The program is run by our community manager who connects with Ambassadors and helps them set and stay on track with their goals outside of their regular work. Say an Ambassador wants to speak at more conferences, then the program helps keep them in the loop about upcoming events with a regularly updated list. They can also get more resources like public speaking coaching, so they’re extra prepared to blow the audience away.

Who are our Ambassadors?

Who are the people who speak at conferences and don the beloved Ambassador hoodies? Four of these Ambassadors took time from their busy schedules to share a little bit about their experience in the program, what projects they’ve been up to, and how the program has helped them reach their goals.

Through the Ambassador program, Ataccama gave Dominik paid time to work on his talks for events and gave him a presentation coach who helped him get ready for Geecon this year.

“The process of preparing the presentation with him was really exciting. I don’t think I would be able to create such a good presentation without him.”

“The title was ‘From Objects to Functions.’ And it’s about the principles of software development, about the principles of creating code. So I talked about object-oriented programming and functional programming, and how they relate to each other, and how we can leverage both of them to create great software.”

In the future, Dominik says he would like to be more active on his blog and speak at some meetups. Though he isn’t naturally drawn to being up on stage in front of a crowd, pushing himself to do just that has been more about personal growth.

“I hate it. But if something hurts, do it more.”

Another major pull to the program? Connecting with the right people who can help make Ataccama better.

“I can’t just sit in front of the computer and write the software by myself. It doesn’t scale. Software development is a team sport. So I need to convince as many people as possible to join me in this effort. Then we can create better software. And that’s the professional point of view, why I’m speaking at conferences. I love writing software. I love writing good software. And I want to do it on scale.”

At the end of the day, the program offers three key benefits for Dominik.

“The only way to create a better environment to work in is by attracting more people who think the same way you think. If I speak at a meetup — who is going there? Someone who cares about how they write software, because otherwise they would be sitting at home on their couch and watching TV. Being there means they want to get better at it. If we can attract these people, we can work with them and create a better work environment. So you are doing a favor not only to the company, but to yourself because you are surrounding yourself with very smart people who care about how to do their job.”

“The second thing is, let’s say more ‘selfish,’ but building your personal brand. I think it’s a very valuable thing after you finish your journey at Ataccama. When your next employer does a background check and they find out that you are speaking at conferences, I think it’s a big plus for your career.”

“And the third thing is personal development, what is sometimes called soft skills. So putting yourself into an unpleasant situation pushes your skills to new heights.”

And why shouldn’t you join Ataccama Ambassadors?

“There are many reasons why you should join. I can’t think of any negatives.”

If you’re thinking about stepping outside of your comfort zone to do something like speaking for a big crowd, take a look at where you are and how you’ve been feeling at these events.

“I have been to many, many, conferences around Europe. And after attending maybe more than 10 conferences, I was sitting in a conference at maybe the fifth session that day. And I was kind of bored, you know? I felt it was time to switch sides, from the audience to the speaker.”

“It’s also about giving back to the community. There’s a lot of free resources for learning in IT — free books, blog posts, free open source software. Many conferences are free, most meetups are free to attend. But it’s not free. It’s paid by the people who create content, right? So after getting from the community, you should give back. And there are many ways of course, you can sponsor them, or you can create content.”

When Blanka was first hired one of her most important tasks was to lead the reconstruction of our office in Prague. She soon became well known to everyone for being able to handle anything and everything you could possibly need in the office. Though this Ambassador hadn’t led a reconstruction project before, she did her research, and created a whole new community in the process.

“I felt like I should get in touch with people who had already done office reconstruction so I could get their insights if something wasn’t going right, and get recommendations for providers. So I started connecting with people on LinkedIn and we’d go for coffee. And I suddenly had a group of people around me. We were all talking about how there’s no community for office managers. There are HR communities, you have marketing communities, communities of all kinds, but you have nothing for office managers.”

“Then I started talking to (former Ataccama Community Manager) Veronika and she was encouraging about starting the community. So Ataccama and Verca helped me get in touch with someone who has an HR community, and they helped me create this community of office managers. After we started having this community this last spring, I was considered to be an Ambassador.”

The community has been meeting for less than a year but already has a lot to talk about and plans for the future.

“Our members all do different things. For example, I don’t do anything like manage employee benefits or HR stuff, but there are people in the community who do. So we are trying to cover a lot of things, and we have a topic planned for each meeting. Last time we focused on coffee, because that’s the most important thing in the office, right? So we were talking about coffee machines and brands. Before that we discussed employee benefits. We had a speaker who told us about the most favorite employee benefits and what people don’t like as much. We’re trying to cover everything we come across in our work.”

Right now Blanka is doing most of the work to organize the monthly meetings, which rotate between different local offices. They’ve already met at Ataccama, Productboard and Emplify, just to name a few. When they met at Ataccama, the program covered many costs for the event.

“The program and Ataccama were willing to give some money and provide me with a space for the first meetup and catering and stuff like that.”

And who should sign up to be an Ambassador?

“I think it depends on whether you feel like this is your dream job, and you are proud to be here. Then it makes perfect sense and you don’t need any other reason. You’re proud of where you are and you are happy to talk about it with other people. Wherever I go I always say how great Ataccama is. We have this office management community thanks to Atacama, and I love my job. That’s basically why somebody should be an Ambassador, because they feel great about the company. If they don’t, they shouldn’t.”

Ambassadors do a lot to promote Ataccama and potentially recruit new colleagues. Even when many companies are facing a hiring freeze, Blanka says it’s still important to be an Ambassador.

“I still think that this company is great and it’s given people more opportunities than is probably visible at first sight. You come here to do your job, but at the same time you can do much more if you want to.”

After running his own blog about front end topics for a few years, Tomas kicked his knowledge sharing into high gear this year by giving his first ever talks, at WebExpo and meetups in Prague.

“I was thinking about speaking at some meetups and things like that for a long time. And I saw the program as a good opportunity to actually get the push to do it. Sometimes external motivation is better than internal. Shortly after joining the Ambassador program I was selected to speak at the WebExpo conference. It all kind of turned out how I was hoping.”

“I submitted three topics for WebExpo. It was for a track co-organized by Frontendisti, which is a group organizing meetups mostly related to front end topics. One of my topics was selected for WebExpo and soon after that I got a message from Frontendisti that they heard my talk was selected, and they asked if I would like to speak at a meetup. So I said, What the hell, why not? I wanted to speak at a meetup so I can’t turn down an opportunity like this.”

“I had never spoken at a meetup or conference before and I had to prepare two different talks. The meetups were in May and June so I had to work on the conference talk and then prepare for the meetup, and then I jumped back to the conference talk. So it was quite rough and time consuming. But I think it was well worth it.”

As an Ataccama Ambassador, Tomas got the support to go after his goals and create new ones.

“Ambassadors get this list of conferences that are happening so we can submit papers for them and speak there. And there are some meetups organized in the Ataccama office. So there’s also the option to speak at these. And there was a push from (fellow Ambassador) Tomas Belada to submit some talks to WebExpo. So I think a bunch of our engineers submitted talks and I was selected in the end.”

“And the second, bigger support I would say is that Ataccama provided a coach for speaking and presenting for those who were going to talk at conferences. That was a huge help as well.”

As someone who doesn’t typically enjoy speaking in front of a big group of people, what actually inspired Tomas to face this discomfort and do something that makes most people want to run and hide?

“It’s fun. And I’m really nervous when I’m supposed to talk in front of people, especially a huge group of strangers. But on the other hand, I get the feeling that there is something I can share with the community and I want to give something back. And giving a talk is one way to do it, other than writing a blog, which I do as well. So I just wanted to give it a try and see how it goes.”

For Tomas, support from the Ambassadors program has been a huge help for working on his talks.

“The support is really great. And the fact that the company actually wants its people to represent it at such events, actually wants them to succeed, paying for a presentation coach and motivating them to do it. It’s really great.”

“I think if someone is interested in speaking at meetups or conferences, this is a good way to get some external motivation to actually do it and get the support to succeed. And there’s some cool swag as well.”

Beyond these motivators, Tomas ultimately wants to help out his fellow developers.

“I think in some cases it’s fairly easy to get into the industry, and in some circumstances it can be hard. A lot of people are trying to get into this industry and I see a lot of people struggling with some things. So helping them along the way at whatever level they are so they can do better, is a good thing to do.”

Before joining Ataccama, Sarka had experience in the HR, employer branding, and recruitment fields. Last year she dove deeper into these interests by launching the podcast ProgramHRovani with her former colleague.

“It’s about IT recruitment, so we have topics that are closely connected to recruitment, employer branding, community building, and everything that can help you with hiring.”

Since starting the podcast (and her role at Ataccama) last year, they’ve covered areas like how to hire, mentor and scale engineering teams in a company. Our colleagues David Kolínek, Adam Drda and Roman Pichlik have even joined in on some recordings to offer their takes on the topics.

“In my previous company, before I started hiring, I didn’t have any experience with it. And we were a small startup. Obviously, we didn’t have much of a budget, because we didn’t have any investors. And we needed to find a way to hire to be really successful, because there was huge competition. And it was me and my colleague, Vojta, who does the podcast with me now and he’s still the CTO in the company. We just sat together and discussed how to do hiring, where to find information, how to do community building and employer branding, and anything else we can find out.”

“We were Googling it and getting new information. And then we actually realized that we didn’t find any website or any podcast specialized in IT recruitment. You’d find general HR podcasts and stuff, but not really specialized in IT recruitment. And we thought that if we have all this knowledge that we gathered, why not publish it? But we are both shy and we don’t consider ourselves specialists. So we did it in the format that it’s two of us, and always one guest. So in each episode there is a guest who is a specialist, and we ask questions like we did when we were learning about recruitment.”

Outside of her podcast, Sarka tries to give back to the IT community in other ways.

“I’m trying to support junior developers, and the junior developer communities in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. I did a small presentation after the three-month Coding Boot Camp course. When junior developers finish the course, there is some presentation of their work. And there are some specialists that come and talk about their first job in the field, and what the juniors need to know and do to get their job easily. So I had this short presentation, also supported by Atacama because they gave me a mentor who helped me prepare my speech.”

“And at the end of November we did mock interviews in our Prague office. And I think that it’s the most successful event for me so far, because we had great feedback from the candidates. We had great feedback from inside Ataccama, too. There were so many people who wanted to join, asking if I needed any help, and everyone said that it’s such a great idea.”

“Ataccama has partnerships with the Junior Guru community and I knew the founder of Junior Guru because he was in my podcast, and as a thank you, he invited me into the community. So I got some access for free. I was reading through their Slack channel about jobs, interview processes, and their experience. And I saw that the candidates were writing ‘I was at an interview yesterday, and I didn’t get any feedback.’ Or ‘I don’t know what to think because they weren’t smiling and they didn’t say anything.’ It was this kind of comment repeated again and again, and again. There was no difference in companies or type of roles, it was still the same experience. And no one actually knew what they should improve.”

“I saw that and said, why can’t we do a practice interview just to give them this feedback without hiring them? Basically the idea was to take a few Ataccama recruiters and some engineers, and invite some people from the junior developer community and give them really good feedback on what they were presenting. So that’s how it started.”

“And even real candidates that I talked to who applied for some of our positions said they were reading about Atacama and looking at my profile, because they knew I would be doing the interview. They said they saw the event, and thought it was really cool that Atacama does these things. Yesterday, we actually hired one of these candidates, which was amazing.”

If the mock interviews continue, Sarka hopes the events spread beyond the IT field.

“There are definitely a lot of people who are interested. They even suggested which social media we should use next time to advertise the event and they wanted to recommend it to their friends. And I hope that it doesn’t stay just in engineering, because there are some people from marketing communities and one from sales who reached out to me on LinkedIn asking if we do something for the other professions as well. So I said that this is the first try and because I take care of engineering, we started with engineering. But there’s a huge interest. So I hope that we will do this for other professions as well.”

As an Ambassador, Sarka gets support from the program to pursue her passions.

“Even just liking our LinkedIn posts is also a kind of support. One colleague came up to me the other day and told me I’m doing great and she’s following what I do. So there’s mental support. For me, the biggest support is actually hosting all these events and all these activities. It’s Ataccama who generates this stuff mostly. And I’m just sharing and participating, saying how great Ataccama is. But it’s the content that’s the biggest addition I think, for me.”

“I think it’s great that if you want to become an Ambassador that Ataccama gives you opportunities depending on the activity. It’s not only presentation skills, but they give you some support when you want to write articles or blog posts. Also, once you are in the Ambassador Slack channel, you know about stuff that other Ambassadors are doing so you can participate in the other events. And then the merch is kind of cool.” :)

And what’s next for Sarka?

“I actually wanted to start programming. I wanted to start some time ago, and now I’m considering it again. So I already discussed it with our engineers, and they recommended some courses. There’s one course for computer science, not only programming, that I want to try. I don’t know if I have the brain for it but I want to try. It’s good to understand these things when you are hiring people for the roles, so that’s been my latest dream.”

Want to meet more of our Ambassadors? Join our team! See what positions are open over at jobs.ataccama.com.

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