Thoughtworks University, our entry-level program for recent grads and career changers, preps new joiners from all corners of the globe for a consulting career at Thoughtworks. During these immersive five weeks, Thoughtworkers hone much more than just their technical skills: they learn the importance of cohesive teamwork, how to liaise with non-technical peers at client sites, and get exposure to people from myriad cultures around the world. We asked 10 TWU alumni to share their biggest takeaways and most valuable nuggets of wisdom from their time in the program and how it has impacted them today.
- I learned to be more mindful of language barriers and adapt my communication style to the person I am addressing. At the beginning of TWU, I was worried about the communication difficulties my team was facing. However, over time I learned to change my way of talking and word choice so that people with less experience with speaking English could understand me better. This has even helped me in my private life: I have been told on several occasions that it is much easier to understand me now and that I sound more mature as a result. - Paul Venhaus (he/his)
- My greatest takeaway from TWU was to work as a team. As a QA, I received a lot of help when the cards were piling up as the iteration was approaching the end. That was the most memorable moment for me. We learned that our roles are not distinctly separate and that we need to work together and sometimes wear multiple hats in order to achieve success. We also learned not only the technical skills needed to build software but also the soft skills to be a great consultant, which I believe are far more important. For example, apologizing on behalf of others, getting along with difficult colleagues (sometimes they are our clients), sharing constructive feedback, etc. All of these things help us build a stronger team and work together better. TWU took my understanding of teamwork to a higher level. - Xudong Yang (he/his)
- Thoughtworks was actually my first tech job. I have a degree in translation and, before joining TW, I worked at a translation agency, since I love learning new languages and meeting people from different cultures. I decided to make a career change when I saw that there were fewer and fewer good work positions in the language industry, and I'd always been interested in technology anyway, so I felt like it was time to give it a chance. So I did a boot camp on frontend development and eventually joined TW and went to TWU, where I received the necessary support to learn from scratch about backend development and agile methodologies. As a career changer, I didn’t expect to find and connect with others who came from similar backgrounds, but since TWU we have stayed in touch - Bárbara (she/her)
- I’m happy that we were able to work with a client that had delivery expectations. Thanks to this, I learned how to handle the unexpected challenges that might impact our work as consultants, how to tackle them as a team, and how to properly communicate them to the client. - Inés Ondo Baka (she/her)
- TWU cultivates such an inclusive environment. No matter where we come from, we feel comfortable to express ourselves. People are open-minded and are willing to listen and share. - Yankun Zhu
- Consulting is like playing an instrument in an orchestra. You need to constantly fine-tune your skills, especially when you need to step into someone else's role or when there are difficulties on the team. TWU helped me notice when the orchestra is going out of tune or when the rhythm is off so that I can speak out and do what it takes for our team to succeed. - Mateja Sela (he/his)
- I'm a Business Analyst, but at TWU we learned about all the roles in a software delivery team and why being multi-disciplined and flexible is a good thing. This helped me so much on my first gig when I had to use BA, product, user research, delivery manager, and technical skills. It sounds daunting and I'm not a specialist in all of these roles but knowing how to talk to users or about product vision and roadmaps means you can adapt to all kinds of interesting client situations...and that makes work more fun! - Poppy Rowse (she/her)
- I learned that there are Thoughtworkers from so many countries and regions with so many different thoughts. Sharing different ideas with others was a rare and interesting opportunity. I also learned that I can do more than I thought I could. - Yanping Liu
- Almost everyone I spoke with had imposter syndrome. People who I observed to be amazingly competent and skilled would turn around and say about how they don't feel good enough. It was eye-opening and helped me work to dispel my own imposter syndrome. Besides, if someone I saw as highly skilled thought that lowly of themselves, what were the chances I was also blind to my own skills? - Mish Forder (he/his)
- To be brave, I did not expect this experience to make me face my greatest fears, how to start a new career, my level of English is not very good and learning something new in another language made me know new learning tools and also increase my process creative, taught me how to resolve conflicts and made me be sincere, ask whenever I have doubts, assume nothing, treat everyone with respect and empathy and always give my best. - Verónica Tehanga (she/her)
Disclaimer: The statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Thoughtworks.