Insta DefSec Career Stories
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Maija Wirlander, Product Owner
I began working at Insta in May 2009. Back then, I was still studying at Tampere University of Technology, and I applied for a summer internship at Insta during my third year of studies. I ended up testing and documenting a training system we developed. Even back then, many of my tasks were related to improving system usability and user interface development.
I graduated as a Master of Science in Technology in 2013. My advanced studies concerned usability and software engineering and I did intermediate studies in mathematics and software technology. My Bachelor's degree project was on automating the creation of graphic user interface-operated software test cases. My thesis concerned usability, with the focus on the automation user data collection and analysis in critical software, which brought me to the Insta Response™ product family and led me to take up a position in charge of the usability of the same product family. From there, the path led to my current role as a Product Owner. By far the most interesting thing I have been involved in was participating in the creation of the Insta Response™ product family. I have been involved in this almost since the beginning and have been able to witness its development into a successful product.
My typical workday is fast-paced
I rarely spend much time in one place. Most of the time I am working with clients, negotiating new functionalities or having a discussion with the development team about how to realize development ideas on our product. My work involves managing large collections of information and conceptualizing new functionalities. When I work with clients, I seek to identify their true requirements and describe to them how our products can be used to meet these requirements. I work with the development team to consider how client requirements can be met with our product features or whether they necessitate the development of a new concept or minor additions. Working in these roles requires an ability to rapidly assimilate information on a broad scale and the ability to discuss it at various levels of abstraction. The job also requires good collaboration skills and an ability to learn fast. I want to continue developing and constantly challenge myself with new and potentially more demanding tasks.
As a workplace, Insta is challenging but flexible. We work on challenging and wide-ranging systems here: planning and realizing these is rarely trivial. That, however, is the best part of the whole job. At Insta, it is possible to challenge yourself with demanding and complex problems. They occur at all levels of software planning and development: as part of software architecture, system architecture, requirements specifications, designing the user experience, project management, and product management.
Insta provides support and flexibility on several levels
As an everyday matter, the flexibility of working hours is perhaps one of the most important. It is not unusual that some people arrive to work already at 6am while others arrive around 9am. Similarly, people leave work in keeping with their own schedules. Flexible working hours make it possible to account for my own hobbies and family. I have an excellent personal example of balancing family life and work:
My first child was born in May 2015. My husband and I both wished to be at home to look after her. We were able to negotiate an arrangement with our employers to allow both of us work 60% of the time. Because my husband is a shift worker, I arranged with Insta to provide a notification every four weeks concerning how my three weekly workdays will be distributed in the following weeks. This enabled me to return to work immediately after my maternity leave when our daughter was four months old, and my husband also got the chance to spend some time with the baby at home. And as encouragement for mothers: I was able to look after the baby despite working, in keeping with my own principles. Soon after returning to work I was able to assume a demanding role as a Product Owner, and since the autumn of 2016, I have been doing 80% work weeks.
As colleagues, the people at Insta are like a second family, at least those involved in the Insta Response product development team. Everyone is accepted as they are, and you can bring in your own personality and expertise. Nobody is left alone and there is always help and support available where needed. Above all, I like it that we are not a homogeneous group; I believe this also makes it easy for new people to join us. If you are interested in applying for work with Insta, I would recommend asking yourself whether you recognize in yourself a person who enjoys challenges and learning new topics. Are you able to quickly assimilate and learn new things? Can you manage broad collections of information or obtain a thorough knowledge of a given topic? Insta is a comfortable and safe place to begin working with challenging projects or product development. You truly are not left alone here – there is always support available.