What is important to managers? How do they look after their team? What should the candidates know? And what types of technology can you work on if you join Marcin Jemiol, Senior Software Engineering Manager, and Jerzy Flik, Software Engineering Manager’s team within the Ethernet Products Group at Intel Poland in Gdansk?
What does your business group do?
Marcin: We work on one of the components that make up a network card; embedded software – meaning the firmware for such devices. However, these are not the cards we all know from laptops or desktops, but ones that ‘sit’ inside data center servers. They are part of an infrastructure that transfers giant amounts of data, so they need to be 100–200 times faster than their equivalents found in standard computers.
Jerzy: Our customers are global internet service and cloud solutions providers, social media operators and streaming services. Our network cards are also an important part of telecommunication solutions, including 5G.
What might attract people to your group? What makes your group stand out?
Marcin: Firstly, we work on products that will only appear on the market within the next one to three years. So we deal with future technology solutions at the time when they are being developed, as we create them ourselves. Secondly, Intel’s growth opportunities are virtually limitless. You can start right after graduation and make a career that will lead you to the position of a Principal Engineer, an Intel Fellow or a high-ranking manager.
To someone from the outside, the age of some of our team members may come as a surprise. Of course, many of the employees have years of experience under their belt, but a large part of the ‘crew’ is really young. The combination of knowledge and experience on the one hand, and energy and enthusiasm on the other, makes our team stand out and helps it grow.
As managers, what values are the most important to you at work?
Jerzy: The most important value for me is ensuring the team’s psychological safety. This means that team members are fully open and do not fear that something they say will be taken the wrong way. Everyone knows that the team is ready to adopt their point of view, work on a new initiative, accept a mistake and cooperate.
Marcin: If I had to choose a single value, it would be mutual support; when someone is having a problem and requires help or information, others are always ready to support them. I care about building and developing a great team – strong in terms of knowledge, experience and solving challenges – but also able to maintain an atmosphere of openness, trust and support.
What do you do to support employee development?
Marcin: Managers spend a lot of time observing their employees and ensuring they have the right conditions to develop. In addition to a large number of internal trainings, employees can take part in external ones and even get support for their studies. All it takes is for an employee to want to learn and show initiative. On a daily basis, we also try to provide them with opportunities to prove themselves, learn, and gain competence in new areas.
Are there any established development paths in your area of the Ethernet Products Group? What are the major roles?
Jerzy: When it comes to engineers, we have two dominant roles in our group: an automatic tester, i.e. the person who specializes in creating automated scripts to check the product quality, and a software engineer, specializing in embedded software.
Marcin: Looking more broadly, there are two possible paths of development at Intel. One is more technical; engineer, technical leader, architect, principal engineer and, finally, Intel Fellow – the highest possible technical position in the company. The second possibility is the managerial path. However, there are many situations where people find their own paths within these two overarching ones.
Your group is growing dynamically. What makes for the ideal job candidate for your group?
Jerzy: We don’t want our engineers to limit themselves to creating a small piece of functionality. We expect them to understand how it affects the whole product. I often ask candidates about their responsibilities at their previous jobs and about the way the functionality they worked on was used. I am looking for a person who can demonstrate that they are able to take responsibility for a specific piece of software.
Marcin: We are looking for developers who are familiar with embedded software and the C language. When it comes to engineering positions focusing on testing and validation, candidates need to enjoy ‘poking holes in things’ and finding errors. They also need to know the C# language, as we use it to write all the automatic tests.
What advice would you give to potential candidates? How should they prepare for an interview?
Jerzy: You should ask yourself what excites you the most when it comes to work, what software you prefer and what types of tasks you find the most attractive. We want to offer you a chance to work on something you are passionate about.
It is also important to analyze your previous professional experience. Why? Because during the interview we will ask about real situations from your previous jobs. Try to remember when you initiated a change, when a project was completed and when something didn’t work out. Did you manage to turn these situations into learning experiences?
Marcin: You should be able to talk about the problems and challenges you have encountered in the past and how you dealt with them. It is a good idea to prepare some examples before the meeting – it allows us to assess your experience and skills.
What does the interview process look like? Are there any tasks?
Jerzy: Firstly, you’ll be contacted by one of our talent acquisition specialists. Then you’ll be invited to meet the hiring manager looking for people to join their team. They will tell you about the responsibilities within their group or the entire business unit. The manager will also be able to answer technical questions, for example about the technologies being worked on, programming languages and the general organizational structure.
The next step is the interview. This is where we verify the candidate’s technical skills and discuss scenarios and learnings from their previous roles. The technical part consists of theoretical questions, most often related to the technology relevant to the given position. You will also be asked to complete a programming task that involves writing functions to solve a problem. As well as understanding what you know, we like to gain insight into how you work.
Marcin: At present, all the interviews take place online. We have some employees who started during the COVID-19 pandemic that we have yet to meet in person. The interviews were conducted remotely, their computers were delivered to them, and the employees have been working from home. We are looking forward to the time when we get to meet with the whole team at the office!
And finally, on a more personal note, what are your hobbies?
Marcin: My favorite hobby is windsurfing. I love skiing and mountain biking in the surrounding woods and hills. I also scuba dive from time to time, and I recently got into mountain bike orienteering with a couple of friends.
Jerzy: I am interested in sim racing, meaning virtual car racing. I also enjoy chess and nature travel.