What if you were offered the possibility to work abroad for a couple of months, would you seize the opportunity if it were to present itself? Well, we did! And from that moment onwards, we never looked back. Back in September of last year, Tim and myself, Aleks, were asked whether we would be willing to spend the following six months in Dublin, Ireland, working on an interesting project. Having taken a gamble, we can now proudly say that it paid off because we both grew personally and professionally.
We went to Dublin, because Dept’s Irish branch won a pitch for a company called CarTrawler and they needed to place quite a few developers and designers in the existing teams, on-site, for six months. Used to building small, but spectacular, campaign websites, we suddenly found ourselves in a big tech company, working on a car hire booking engine.The transition was not easy, but we made the most of it and learned as much as possible. In the end we figured out it was actually great.
The experience of being sent abroad by Dept was great and far from what you have to go through if you just move somewhere on your own. Everything was taken care of and we always had someone to help us when in doubt. And, we even got the opportunity to have a few pints of Guinness with our Ireland based colleagues which is always fun!
However, we were not working with our Dept colleagues on a daily basis. As we were working for CarTrawler, a company of around 800 people, 50 of whom were developers, this was a big difference for us, coming from a rather small five man team. It was exciting for us to be part of such a big team, share tips and nerd out together.
SO, WHO EXACTLY IS CARTRAWLER?
CarTrawler is the world’s leading B2B travel technology platform which mainly focuses on car hire, but also offers passenger transfer solutions via bus, chauffeur, coach, rail and taxi. If you have ever booked a flight ticket online and got the option to rent a car, you’ve probably seen or even interacted with the project which we’ve worked on. Despite not operating under their own name, their services are provided to passengers through partnering up with some of the world’s major airline companies, 100 of which are international, as well as working alongside more than 2,000 online travel retailers. While offering car rental possibilities across 50,000 locations, you could be 1 of their 10,000,000 customers around the world.
A WHOLE NEW BALLGAME
We felt those numbers at work. If there were any problems with either the engine, or the booking products, it could cause real problems for hundreds or thousands of customers while also losing a substantial amount of money for both the company itself and its partners. This was a new feeling for us. There’s not much that can go wrong with a campaign website, there’s no measurable loss if it goes down for a moment, and consequently there’s less responsibility for developers. Here we were under pressure for each deployment.
We both worked on the same project: providing a solution for airlines to be able to offer car rental services within their own flow in between choosing the tickets and paying for them. Whilst there, we worked in a six-man team consisting of four developers, a designer and the product owner. We had to deal with a lot of other programmers’ code and some design restrictions coming from the partner’s brand books, as well as focusing on accessibility, which was the opposite of what we were used to. At times, this was really challenging but also showed us what the real world, outside of a beloved agency bubble, was like.
The processes were different too, e.g. User Experience played much bigger part in our work than we were used to. To check what was actually working and what wasn’t, we had to go through a lot of data. Moreover, we witnessed the power of A/B-testing and how even a subtle alteration in the user interface can change customer’s behaviour and sales. Going through the tests was a humbling experience that showed us that intuition doesn’t really work when it comes to UX decisions. It’s not the pretty, fancy or even most informational content that is going to make people click. Want to know what’s gonna work? Test it.
A GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY
Dublin was a great opportunity to work within a very international environment. Not only the company, but the city as a whole is incredibly multicultural (especially for a capital of 550,000 people!). It is rapidly expanding with a lot going on. So it comes as no surprise that many companies are moving their European HQs to Dublin. The only downside (for some people) is the weather in Ireland, it can be very rainy, windy and cold on some days. But despite the weather, the picturesque landscape will cheer you up and there’s always a pint of Guinness or a tumbler of whiskey around the corner to warm you up!
So if anyone ever asks you the same question that we were asked 10 months ago – please say yes. Go! To Dublin or wherever. There’s nothing to lose and so much learn. We’d definitely do it all over again!