With more than 20 years of professional experience, Piotr Kwapulinski brought his talents to Intel two years ago. Currently, he is a senior software engineer in the Ethernet Products Group, working on the development and design of Linux kernel drivers. We recently spoke with him about his career journey, what sets Intel apart, and where he sees himself in 10 years.
How did you get to Intel?
It’s a pretty famous company; everyone knows it. So, when I worked at a previous company, I thought why not change something in my career? Intel was the right candidate. I applied for a job, and now I work here.
How do you feel about the difference between working at Intel and working at previous companies?
There is a definite difference. Of course, not everything is unique, but for example, there is a very high working culture at Intel. I really like it, and it’s a significant advantage that I might not have appreciated a few (or a dozen) years ago, but now I appreciate it very much. It’s a big plus for me. It is a huge company both globally and in Gdansk itself and far exceeds the standard companies in terms of the number of people. This can be felt, especially in terms of the processes and formalities themselves.
You’ve been involved with Linux for most of your career, and it seems that’s the case with your current team. Could you tell us what your team is doing?
Currently, I am also coding under Linux. We create and maintain 1/10/40/100 Gb network kernel drivers. Mainly we’re developing the drivers by adding new functionalities, but also correcting emerging bugs. This is a complete process. I participate in the architectural work and development phase. Additionally, we solve problems that arise with our customers. Everyone can find something for themselves; we have a very wide range of interesting tasks. What’s more, our team is composed of fascinating people.
What’s the biggest challenge you face working at Intel?
I think the specifics of the work and the organization of all the individual tasks, of which there are many here. You must meet demands coming from different sides in a fairly short time. An increasing level of complexity of individual tasks is becoming a challenge, and the fact that they flow in large numbers in a short time.
You mentioned the time aspect. How do you combine your professional and personal development? Are you able to balance them?
So far, I’ve managed to do it, and I’m happy. You have to find compromises and communicate them. From my point of view, this balance is maintained at the right level. I feel that I manage to do something valuable during my work, which is useful for the team and primarily for Intel. I also have some time left for personal development to a satisfactory extent.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years? At Intel or elsewhere?
I’m fascinated by computer science as a whole: both in technology—through programming languages—and in the whole machinery that’s behind it. I have a creative approach to what I do. Intel is a huge company that provides a lot of fascinating topics with a large bag of development projects to explore for years to come. My far-reaching plans are associated with Intel. Most likely, I’ll remain on the technical path that I currently follow.
Is there anything you would like to pass on to trainees or computer science students who would like to be where you are now in a while?
The preconceptions of working at any company that supplies a product to the market differs from individual to individual. Those visions might be entirely different from reality, depending upon the person—i.e., for a person who is getting used to this business or for a student still in college without the experience of working at a company for at least a few months. When I was in college, I imagined working as a software engineer very differently from what it’s like. I think it’s not just about being a programmer but having the most immersive experience. I can see how different the student’s and employee’s points of view are, even after talking to colleagues who are still studying. My advice is to try an internship and see how it fits you. Go to the company and immerse yourself in the environment.