From college to a career in programming: an interview with Gabriel Nitulescu, Project Manager at Roweb

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For nearly six decades, the University of Pitesti has been preparing students for successful careers in the areas they are passionate about. The UPIT Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science has helped to train many successful programmers who have contributed to the high level of IT competence in Romania, constantly trying to adapt to the evolution of labor market demands and to maintain a strong partnership with the software companies in Arges. One of UPIT’s longest partnerships is with Roweb. Most of our employees are UPIT graduates. Because we want to know more about the students’ experiences and needs and how we can better support them, we talked to one of our colleagues who graduated from the University of Pitesti, Gabriel Nitulescu, Project Manager, about his experience during college and the transition to a career in programming.

1 How did your admission to college go? based on which criteria did you choose where to apply?

“I was passionate about computer science since high school, I got this passion from my older brother, Catalin (he’s a programmer at Roweb as well). After graduating from high school, I passed admission exams both at UPIT’s Maths-Computer Science Faculty and at the University of Bucharest. I would have gotten state-funded tuition at both, but I did not like the idea of moving away from Pitesti. I did not like Bucharest, in addition, in Pitesti I was admitted with a scholarship, so I chose to attend the courses at UPIT.”

2 How did you feel about the courses you had to take?

I did not really care for math, I preferred computer science. Unfortunately, in the early years, there were more math courses, including the History of Mathematics and Computer Science, which I liked the least. I really liked Objects Oriented Programming, Programming Techniques, and Databases. They were directly related to what I wanted to do, they were well structured and well taught.

My grades did not reflect my preferences, I had good grades at many subjects that I did not like, but I also had to learn well in order to keep my scholarship until the end of college.

3 How were your relationships with your professors?

I liked Professor Miroiu a lot because she really wanted to help the students with their development, it was obvious that really liked the job, she really likes what she does. She coordinated my degree paper, in which I tried to use the latest technologies at the time. I also liked Professor Bolosteanu, he was very demanding and therefore he was not very popular among my colleagues, but I liked that about him. I also had courses taught by Prof. Ionut Dinca, with whom I am now a colleague and have a special relationship with. In college, however, he showed a very different personality, he was very serious and demanding, while here at work he is very funny and relaxed. 

4 What was it like when you first got hired? How did you manage to balance your studies and your job?

Razvan Veliscu, one of Roweb’s co-founders, came at the faculty during my third year and asked Professor Miroiu about her top students. She recommended me, Sorin Tarceatu, who also works at Roweb now, and another colleague. At the interview, I was initially excited to see Mr. Viorel Costea, the company’s CEO, who had been my high school computer science teacher and with whom I’d had a very good relationship. After that, I relaxed and my interview went very easy, I got the job. Initially, I worked only one summer because I was in the third year of my four-year study cycle, since back then we still had the pre-Bologna system. I was a very driven student and wanted to complete my studies before getting hired permanently. I got the full-time job as soon as I graduated, Mr. Viorel called me and said: “Come on, are you ready to join us?”. I also had an offer to teach at the University, but I preferred to apply my accumulated knowledge into practice, rather than to teach. I did not think I could have juggled studies and a job at the same time, especially since I needed to keep my scholarship because at that time, class attendance was taken into account to a greater extent than now and there was not as much pressure to have work experience before graduating. At least, I did not have colleagues that worked during the academic year, very few students were doing this.”

5 What advice would you now give to your student self?

If I started all over, I would get a job during college, I would not waste any time, because this way you get more practical experience, learn how to solve problems. I think it’s hard to handle both work and studies, but I think it would be worth the effort, both financially and for the experience. Through practical experience you evolve in your career, you learn more interesting things. The curriculum has probably changed in the meantime, and maybe there are now more practical courses, better aligned with what you encounter in the work environment. What I would wish for our education system is for students to be able to actually choose their courses, not have any mandatory ones, and to be prepared for production, not for the academic environment. More competition, both between students and teachers, would be beneficial for everyone. It seems to me that it’s important to put as much emphasis on the practical part as possible, on technologies that are well aligned with what is being used in practice and, as much as possible, for the lab classes to be taught by the people who actually work in production and can show you how to apply the information.

I really like what I do, I would not see myself doing anything else, so I would make the same choices.

 


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