Career Start as an IT Consultant, Lena Ugele Shows Us How

IT folks are couch potatoes, without social or communication skills, and male? This interview challenges stereotypes and clichés. Above all, Lena shows us that she is open, curious, energetic, communicative, sociable and witty. Read what drives her and how you, too, can shape your career start as part of ACONEXT.

ACONEXT: Before we start with my questions, let’s start with a little intro: When you joined us, we were celebrating a small anniversary with you: 500 employees! How did it feel to be our official 500th employee?

Lena Ugele: Super cool. Whether it’s 500 or 505, it was a little milestone. When they said “Hey, congratulations, you’re the 500th” when I signed my employment contract. It was kind of crazy.

Why did you choose ACONEXT as your employer?

I would say the complete package. The job advertisement sounded good; the interview went really well. Foremost, it was personal, very friendly and open, but also convincing in terms of content plus the framework conditions and only a 15-minute drive. The overall combination was a really good fit.

Staying flexible boosts your frustration tolerance. You definitely need a certain level of stress resistance in IT [...] You need to be realistic.
Lena Ugele

What is important to you in your workplace? What are your must-haves and what are your personal no-go’s?

People! I don’t think the personal aspect should be neglected. Sure, day-to-day business, you must work a lot, and ideally you need to be productive, but connecting with others shouldn’t be neglected. Since you spend a lot of time at work, you should also have a good time together. A good relationship with your colleagues is really important.

And no-go’s? That’s difficult, but what I wouldn’t be able to cope with at work would be pets, office dogs or something like that. I recently saw another discussion on the topic. It’s a tricky subject. I don’t particularly like dogs, and cats would be even worse because I’m allergic. So, I don’t think pets or office pets would be right for me, but I’m sure a compromise can always be made.

What advice can you give to anyone who wants to set foot in the IT sector?

That’s a tough one, as I’m just starting myself, but I think it’s important to value your own abilities and not underestimate yourself. Not just specifically in relation to IT, I think that’s important everywhere. That you try to look at yourself realistically. Of course, you shouldn’t overestimate yourself, but I think it often goes the other way, that people seriously underestimate themselves. So, it’s important to have confidence in what you are capable of and to stay open to new ideas and be willing to learn.

What makes IT particularly exciting for you?

That you can make many things much easier; automate things, speed up processes. Of course, it takes time to develop these initially, but once you’ve put in the work, everything becomes much smoother afterward. I just think that’s cool! But also, that there are constantly so many new things, including some really crazy ones. There are things in IT that make you think ‘hey, this will never work’ and then a year later the unthinkable is being developed or released. That’s the appeal of IT for me.

As you say, the IT sector is extremely volatile, there are new trends and developments every day, how do you keep up to date?

So far, I’ve learned a lot through my studies. I regularly learned a lot about the latest trends and developments. I don’t think trends pass you by at work either, but I still think that you have to consciously engage with IT in your free time. Whether it’s articles, posts, or panels, you have to stay on track and up to date. I don’t have a particular strategy for the future yet, but I’m excited to see what happens. I follow an IT-meme page, which isn’t really a serious contribution, but it does indeed reflect reality a little.

What are the qualities and skills that an IT Consultant needs to have?

A certain programming ability and a technical background, of course. You need a particular main subject so that you can fully understand the development processes and stages, but above all to be able to understand how something actually works. But I think a lot of self-confidence is important and a high degree of flexibility for all projects, no matter what kind. Probably nothing will turn out exactly as you initially plan. Staying flexible boosts your frustration tolerance. You definitely need a certain level of stress resistance in IT, you need to be honest with yourself and be able to say to yourself, for example: “This not going to work in one week.” You need to be realistic to avoid putting yourself under unnecessary stress.

What are your personal superpowers?

I can adapt relatively well. I get on with lots of different types of people or different environments. During my internship, I was at a start-up, where the working atmosphere was of course very different from here. But I got on well there, and I think, at least that’s my feeling so far, that things will also work out well at ACONEXT. I can also put myself in someone’s position, which helps me to get on well with everyone.

What are your career goals, where do you see yourself in the next 2 to 5 years?

Foremost, starting off with my career. To adjust to, let’s call it, the real work life. Sure, I already worked full-time during my internship and was a trainee when I was a student. But a full-time position with a permanent contract and a lot of personal responsibility, to find my way in the real IT world, to find out how processes work. I definitely want to learn a lot of new things, apply and deepen what I’ve learned during my studies. To really comprehend knowledge that has been introduced here and there, to make progress. Expanding my knowledge is my main short-term goal.

And what do you wish for the future of the world of IT?

That progress will continue in any case, that there won’t be some kind of crash at some point, but I think the risk is very low. As far as autonomous driving is concerned, I think it would be great if it could be used everywhere at some point, but I think some time will pass before it becomes a reality. If it really worked, there would be no more traffic jams, fewer or no accidents, more rested drivers, and more comfortable journeys, including public transport, that would be really, really amazing.

What do you do for your own personal work-life balance, how do you recharge your batteries when you’re not working?

Sports, definitely! I play handball. We have training three times a week, a game on the weekends, and I also coach a junior team. So, I spend most of my free time in the gym. It’s not just playing itself, but the many people you regularly meet. Handball is a big part of my life. Apart from that, I try to spend a lot of time with family or friends, enjoying activities together. Overall, those are the two things that ensure that I’m refreshed and energized afterward.

The interview for ACONEXT was held by Magdalena Zalewski.

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