From photography to programming

16.5.2017FranticReading time 5 min

We sat down with our developer Janne Aalto, who traded photography studies for programming and gave up an ad agency gig for a more challenging role at Frantic.

Now would be a great time to grab a cup of coffee and take a well-deserved break, because the Faces of Frantic is back! This time we sat down with our extremely talented developer Janne Aalto, who traded photography studies for programming and gave up an ad agency gig for a more challenging role at Frantic.

How’s it going and what do you do here at Frantic?

I’m alright, thanks. I started at Frantic a little over a year ago and we just recently launched the first project that I’ve worked on ever since its very beginning. In general, I do web projects – mainly PHP for WordPress.

How did you become a developer?

I was doing military service when I had to apply to universities. I started looking into schools where I could study photography and stuff like that, and ended up doing a degree in Media Technology in Leppävaara. I soon realized that I probably wouldn’t make it as a photographer and all the 3D stuff felt pretty pointless, too. Print media was already dying and web development just started to make a lot of sense – it just stuck. I ended up getting an internship at an advertising agency where I got to work with two senior developers who didn’t mind looking after what I was doing and teaching me new stuff. That was pretty cool.

What makes a good developer?

The ability to think logically and solve problems. At the end of the day, developing is all about problem solving and when you know the language, you’re able to make informed decisions. On the other hand, once you’ve developed strong enough a base, it’s relatively easy to learn new languages.

What’s the best thing about your job?

People, by far. But also cool projects and great working conditions. Frantic is really flexible and I like the fact that we’re allowed to work from wherever we want. No one assumes that you’re sitting at your desk by 9 AM sharp and there’s this certain kind of freedom. Remote office is actually a great example of that – we were in Thailand for a month this year and it was a great experience overall.

What’s the most challenging thing about your job?

Occasionally clients have a very clear idea of what they want and so we end up spending a lot of time justifying why some other solution may actually be better. Sometimes I struggle to present our recommendations to a non-technical audience, but that’s why we have our project managers as translators. If they understand what I’m trying to say, I can try the same thing with the client.

What has been your favorite project at Frantic so far?

We recently launched a new site for the Finnish Centre for Pensions – The project ran smoothly and it was great to be a part of it from start to finish.

What skills would you like to develop in the future?

I’m currently interested in learning some of the newer JavaScript frameworks that have been introduced within the past four years. Although, I have to admit that I’m not too good at learning new frameworks until I can use them in a real project. Only when I have real client challenge in mind, I get to really dig into the technology and figure out the best way to solve the problem.

How would you describe the culture and ways of working at Frantic?

The atmosphere here is pretty great, people are awesome and everyone does their job well. These guys are always willing to lend a hand if there are any problems and so on.

We often work at client premises, which is convenient when the client is heavily involved in the project. However, there obviously has to be a business case for sitting there. For example, if the client isn’t that technical, it might be better if only the designers work from the client office.

How did you end up at Frantic?

Two of my old coworkers asked me whether I’d be interested in working here and they managed to get me an interview. I used to work at an ad agency, where the focus was heavily on ads, so development was not a core competence for them. However, it’s completely different to work for a company that makes complex services and where there’s always someone who can help you when you need it. There are almost 40 developers here and so  there’s always someone who you can ask for advice.

What have you learned at Frantic?

At least I’ve got to know JavaScript, WordPress and PHP much better. I didn’t have any previous experience of Heroku either, but not having to worry about the server makes my life considerably easier.

On the other hand, Frantic is such a big company that we get pretty interesting projects and clients. We also have training sessions for all the developers on Mondays, but unfortunately I’ve never made it to one yet, because I’ve been at a client’s.

Finally, would you recommend Frantic as a workplace?

I would and I have actually tried to convince a couple of people I know to jump ship, but so far I haven’t had much luck. Remote office is a great selling point, though, and so is the fact that we get to learn new things constantly – both from our colleagues and from the projects we work on.

Thanks Janne!

If you’re interested in joining Janne and our other web wizards and witches, check out our open positions and get applying!