Does professionalism refer to super intelligence, talent, know-how, a way to act or what? What do we talk about in terms of professionalism? What does it mean in software development?

Petteri Räisänen has worked in software development for almost 20 years. Since early 2017, he has been a consultant in a customer e-commerce project for Compile’s customer, which is carried out by a team of over ten professionals. His career in coding began with applicable studies at the University of Kuopio. As a man from Savo, Petteri urges all his interlocutors to take what he says with “a mug of salt”, meaning that not everything he says should be taken too seriously.

“I don’t really know how to do anything else. Neat indoor work is suitable for people with engineering characteristics,” Petteri says.

Fortunately for Petter, the employment prospects in the software sector are so good that he doesn’t have to change his day-time job any time soon. Over the past 20 years, he has developed some kind of an idea of how the work in software is done. Professionalism cannot not found behind any mystical, magical or cryptic curtain. Computers are stupid and do, with the utmost logic, exactly what they are told. Once you understand the logic of their action, you can solve everything.

Experience helps, but it’s the attitude that counts

Professionalism, especially in software development, is about tolerating change, desire to learn, curiosity and the ability to adapt to ever-changing situations in an ever-evolving field.

“One of the most important things I’ve learned over the years is that you shouldn’t hang on to a particular job. You have to be ready to study and do things differently.”

After the warm-up, the modest consultant finally agrees to talk about professionalism and himself in the same sentence. According to Petteri, professionalism is purely a matter of attitude.

“If you’re willing to accept that nothing is static and you’re not against change, but accept it, you can go a long way.”

“If you’re willing to accept that nothing is static and you’re not against change, but accept it, you can go a long way.”

In Petteri’s opinion, professionalism is also about taking responsibility and not leaving things halfway. You have to know your own limits. You have to admit it when you need help. You shouldn’t be too proud. You must be able to cooperate with people from different organisations.

Experience helps. The more you’ve coded, and the more you’ve seen and done, the more automatic programming becomes. Once you’ve gathered experiences under your belt of situations where you have gone wrong, you know how to avoid making the same mistakes again. The continuous development of technology and the speed of change ensure that there is always more to learn. And it’s never boring.

“New things are the perks of this job. You don’t have time to get bored. Challenges keep the mind fresh.”

Roles are made to be broken and objectives to be shared

Professional implementation of a software project also requires a lot from the customer. Buying software expertise is demanding. The creators must have an appropriate framework and all parties must know their role. Mutual trust is essential.

“It is important that, as a consultant, I feel part of the same group as the client and their staff.”

“It is important that, as a consultant, I feel part of the same group as the client and their staff.”

In the current project, Petteri mostly works as both a developer and an architect, but in the agile team everyone does everything they are able to.

“The team I’m in now has employees from at least five different companies. You need to let go of such boundaries. You cannot think that you can’t work with someone because they work for a competitor. You need to understand what our common task is and what we need to achieve.”

It’s not always fun and easy.

Programming is like any other job: sometimes it’s fun, sometimes not too much. The moods vary between wails of despair to shouts of joy. Where does Petteri get his energy?

“When you’ve been trying to solve something for weeks, even years, and two pieces finally fall into place, you get great feelings of success.”

Petteri’s messages is first and foremost related to the way of dealing with situations, the environment, change and other people. In 20 years, he’s had some time to live and learn.

“I didn’t know much about anything in my 20s. But the older I get, the harder it is to learn. I have to focus on what’s relevant. I’m not trying to understand everything, but I’m focusing on what’s relevant to me.”

You have to be prepared to learn new things, if not on a daily basis, at least monthly. It is also a competitive advantage in the labour market. And Petteri says he’s never specifically strived for professionalism.

“I’ve just done what needs to be done and what seems reasonable, logical and right.”