Growing your career at Centric

Alex Popescu shares his career journey at Centric - why he started here, why he chose to leave, and ultimately, what made him decide to come back.

My career started not at Centric, but at another company as a C++ developer summer intern. During the internship I had the opportunity to see if programming, specifically back end, is something I would like to do for the rest of my life. I quickly found that going home after a day as an intern, I felt very tired and drained. It wasn’t because the work was too difficult or stressful, it was that I was feeling psychologically drained from this type of work. This was not the kind of feeling I wanted to leave work with every day.

After this internship experience, I received a call from someone at Centric – a front-end developer who knew that the design team was looking for an intern, a person to pass some work to and help develop their career. I had some design experience, first as a hobby, then as a freelancer in logo and web design, so I had some skills, but not as a career. Being an intern at Centric would give me the opportunity to have a job in the field.

In 2016, I started a 3-month internship at Centric. During the program, I worked on all kinds of design tasks: marketing materials, front-end code (HTML, CSS, and JavaScript), user flows, responsive design, and other UI/UX tasks. I really felt, that by the end of the internship, I had gained the trust of my colleagues in the Netherlands and that I was not only working on front-end development, but also researching and designing the best solutions for the product.

After the internship, I joined Centric as a full-time employee. I was only the second UI/UX designer at Centric Romania and I collaborated on a project- an HR & Payroll solution for Dutch customers - with the other designer in Romania (who was also my mentor), as well as a designer in the Netherlands. I really enjoyed working on this project. I learned from the challenges of working with multiple development teams, preparing designs in advance to make sure all the teams had what they needed, and working in collaboration with front-end developers.

But in 2019, I decided that I would leave Centric. I got an offer from a competitor in Iasi that was financially better and offered me new challenges. I would be working more with mobile design, something I was learning in my free time but never had the opportunity to do on work projects. The only reason I really considered it was because they seemed like Centric: they create their own products, they put people first, and they invest in learning and education. It was really hard to tell the team I was leaving, since I had become friends with all of them. But I felt this was the best decision for me at the time.

I learned a lot about mobile design after I left Centric and I am grateful for that experience. But fast forward nine months, and I was looking to come back to Centric. I put together a list of pros and cons. And in the end, what mattered most was learning and growth.

And for me, Centric is a company that is known for that. I can't say that I have found something similar to what Centric offers. I have not found the same mentality that Centric has - the mentality of connecting and engaging, being there for people, and focusing on learning.

Programs like School of Centric, going to conferences and workshops inside and outside the county, going to the Netherlands to visit the clients and to better understand their needs – there are some may opportunities for growth and development. That is what made me think about coming back to Centric. And I was also missed my colleagues. It was hard to say goodbye to the many friends I made, but it was nice to come be back and be welcomed with open arms. People said it was like I was on a long vacation. Our colleagues are very friendly, and I feel like I have people that I can trust. And I know that they will be there for me.

So, I started a Centric for the second time, now with more experience and a different set of goals. When I first came back, I took on the task of improving the learning opportunities for my design colleagues: looking for conferences, tutorials, and articles; organizing knowledge-sharing meetings; investigating the Interaction Design Foundation learning platform; and being a mentor for the newer colleagues in the team. In addition to that, I am also working on a very innovative project for companies to digitally see the statistics related to building use. I feel lucky to be able to work on this. There are lots of sensors involved and it seems very futuristic. And it is a challenge to take all of that data and find ways of presenting it in well-designed ways. In the future, I am confident that I will continue to develop my technical and soft skills – with the goal of one day having a leadership role in the company.

Looking back at my career and my choices so far, I feel like along the way I have learned a lot about myself and what I need to feel happy and successful. The main thing I learned is that while I’m young, the financial offer a company makes is not as important as the learning and development opportunities they offer. It’s also about the people. I feel like I learn more from people I admire and look up to as mentors. And, I need to work somewhere where I feel motivated to take risks and push myself outside my comfort zone - and am given the opportunity to do that. I am thankful to Centric for helping me start my design career and for welcoming me back and offering me new challenges.

Project

Providing a complete shopping experience

Project

Connecting people with social services