From store employee to software engineer
Hans Reygaert and Ralph Put both started out as store employees at a Colruyt store. Thanks to Colruyt Group IT's software engineering traineeship they are now well on their way of turning their passion for IT into their job.
Hans, Ralph, your career started in the store?
Ralph: “That’s right, I started in 2008 as a working student and ended my career as a store employee at Colruyt Beringen.”
Hans: “And I started in Colruyt Nossegem in 2010 and ended up in Zele. I mainly worked in the refrigerated area.”
Why did you enrol in Colruyt Group IT's junior software engineer course?
Hans: “The technical side of things, solving problems, I’ve always had it in me. I felt that IT was what I wanted to pursue in my life and I started to work on it through self-study. Fortunately, there are many good online learning platforms nowadays to gain knowledge about IT, such as Udemy and Pluralsight. When I inquired about training opportunities within our company, I found out that Colruyt Group IT organises a traineeship for software engineering once or twice a year. An opportunity I grasped with both hands.”
Ralph: “For me too, IT has always been a dormant passion, which, like a snowball rolling downhill, got bigger and bigger! I was still working in the store when I started taking the 'Programming' graduate course in evening school at Hogeschool PXL. As part of that course, I did an internship at Colruyt Group IT. They were the ones to offer me the traineeship. It gave me the opportunity - even before I finished my studies in evening classes - to be involved in coding professionally and full time. A dream come true!”
And so in September 2021 you sat behind your computer screen for the first lesson?
Ralph: “Indeed, together with two other trainees from Colruyt Group we started in September 2021 with a theory course by Switchfully. And that was pretty tough. In three months’ time we learned the basics of Java, Spring Boot, Angular ... By working with this material day in, day out, you feel that your knowledge is increasing fast. It’s just incredible.”
Hans: “The lessons are organised really well: you move forward like an express train, while still managing to stay on track. I sometimes had to work an extra hour in the evening, or study in the weekend. But because this is really my passion, it didn't really cost me that much effort. At the beginning of December, the four of us made a final project which allowed us to show Colruyt Group what we could do. We received a lot of congratulations, so I am very proud!"
You are now working on your first project at Colruyt Group IT?
Hans: “Since the beginning of March, we have been working as software engineers, each in a different team. During this period, we can count on a designated coach to support us. I have been assigned to the Store Sales service centre. Our task for the coming months is to change our store's cash register system to a newer technology. Specifically, I am rewriting the FVS2000 adapter layer. This way, we can continue to guarantee the stability of the system in the future. It also makes it easier to add new functionalities later on.”
“The fact that I have personally worked at the cash register for 12 years, I do experience as an advantage in this project. And the fact that my former colleagues in the store are going to be the end users of the IT system that I am developing is a huge motivation. That way I keep a connection with my former job and colleagues.”
Ralph, you were assigned a different project?
Ralph: “In addition to the cash register system, there are many other applications within Colruyt Group that will be migrated to a more modern technology. My team members and I receive the description of what these applications should do, and the old code. This is a good learning experience for me, because it allows me to see how programming used to be done and how it is done today. My coach and I talk to each other several times a day, but my other colleagues also help me. We all have a passion for coding. And that immediately creates a bond."
What are you most looking forward to after the traineeship?
Ralph: “Despite the fact that I really enjoy learning, I am looking forward to mastering coding at a certain point, so that I can help someone myself. That I'm no longer the one who needs coaching, but that I can say to a future trainee 'I'll explain this to you in a minute'.”
Would you recommend this software engineering course to others?
Hans: “To someone with the same passion for coding, motivation and perseverance as us, I would definitely recommend the traineeship wholeheartedly! I am super happy that I can take this new path with the employer I have loved working for for so long.”
Ralph: “Colruyt Group's enormous belief in me to succesfully complete this traineeship is one of the best compliments I have ever received professionally.”