Published on April 30, 2020

Bas is one of our Senior Software Engineers. Having recently joined our team of Castorians, I wondered how he’s been experiencing working as a Back-End Engineer at Castor? What does a “day-in-the-life” look like? How has his role been impacted by COVID, and why would he encourage other Engineers to join us on our purpose-driven mission?

Firstly, a little insight to what our Engineers use at Castor (yes, our stack is stacked!) 

Knowing what you know now, if you could look back to 8 months ago as you were applying to join Castor, what would you tell yourself?

I would tell myself not to worry about not having domain-specific knowledge. The field Castor operates in might seem daunting at first, but you’ll start learning the ropes on day one and never stop!

Coming into the role, what did your first 3 months look like as a Senior Software Engineer?

I was started off with a week of onboarding sessions in which I learned more about the company and its different departments. In between those sessions I got to know my team members and together with Volker (our awesome Engineering Manager) they got me set up with all the tools and access that I needed. 

Quickly thereafter, you’ll find yourself exploring the EDC codebase and working on your first ticket. Mine was a nice vertical slice in which I got to work on multiple layers of the application.

You’re part of the regular day-to-day much quicker than I had expected and that’s because of the great support you get!

How would you describe the culture and working style in Castor’s Engineering team?

Supportive is the first word that comes to mind. Everyone is always willing to help you out whenever needed. Be it pairing up to do some code ‘spelunking’, or giving background info on decisions that were made in the past. You’re immediately treated as an equal and your opinion matters right away, which made me feel at home within the first week.

What does Castor’s product release process look like? 

We have around 4 big releases per year and a smaller release every 2-3 weeks. A cycle is kicked off by determining what should be in it. After that a development cycle of about 2 months. Following that we do a feature freeze in which we only do fixes 

And, would you say there’s a good balance between new features and refactoring?

It varies but overall I would say, yes there is. We mainly apply the boy scout principle, leave things behind a little nicer than you found them, in the regular day-to-day. If a bigger refactor is needed to make it easier to fit in a new feature then it’s highly encouraged.  

Castor has been doing a lot to support researchers during the COVID crisis. Has this meant new opportunities or new initiatives for you and the Engineering team? 

Definitely, it was a bit hectic when we had a short-term shift in priorities. We had to expand our API on the EDC to support a mobile app that was developed over the span of two weeks. The app is meant to record COVID-19 symptoms in a healthy group of participants. The below infographic shows how Castor is working to support the fight against coronavirus!

That all sounds really exciting and truly purposeful. With all of this work, have you been given much support by Castor to keep working through the crisis?

Castor vs Covid-19

The support-system that is in place has been wonderful. People that lacked stuff at home to work comfortably got items delivered by our awesome People Team. Since most of us already worked from home one day a week, the transition has been quite smooth.

With all this in mind, why would you encourage other Engineers to come and join the team? 

If you want to be able to flex your ‘tech-muscle’ while working on something that will benefit a lot of people, within a company that is open, inclusive, and full of people that are passionate about what they do and how they do it, then you should come and join us!


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