Evolving in the world of tech: "bol's community helps me thrive"

As Senior Software Engineer Angelica reflects on her journey at bol, one word consistently stands out: community. When talking to us, she openly shares stories about her rapid professional growth, her most challenging project to date, and her desire to continuously step out of her comfort zone and do more. “By trusting people and giving them space and opportunity, you create an environment where they want to give back. And that is exactly what I see happening at bol.”

A warm welcome

Growing up in Bulgaria, Angelica didn’t initially lean towards computer science. “I actually loved languages and writing, and always dreamed of travelling the world. So, even though I was pretty tech-savvy, my decision to study software engineering was probably quite surprising to some of my family and friends.” Angelica’s studies took place in Eindhoven and after nearly seven years there, she transitioned to working at bol as a mid-level software engineer. “I couldn’t wait to get started a bol. Unfortunately, at that time, we were in the midst of a pandemic with a strict lockdown—not the ideal scenario for starting a new job. Luckily for me, my team and my manager embraced me with open arms. They took the time to get to know me, going out of their way to make me feel welcome. That made all the difference in the world.”

Embracing the challenge

Reflecting on that time, 2.5 years ago, Angelica almost sees herself as a different person now. “I’ve grown immensely since then, and that’s because I’ve been given the space to do so. For example, within just a year of joining bol, I was invited to participate in a high-priority project involving a CMS migration. It was incredibly intimidating initially. Being relatively young, I wasn’t entirely sure if I had the knowledge and courage to tackle such a significant challenge. However, bol’s belief in me boosted my confidence immensely. The project pushed me to collaborate with new people, learn new skills, and take the lead. I embraced the challenge and feel like I’ve gained knowledge and experience that normally would take at least 10 years to gain.”

Starting new projects, taking on challenges and stepping out of her comfort zone, it’s things that now seem part of Angelica’s DNA. “Here at bol, you are very encouraged to join initiatives outside of your team and role alone. It has led me to take on extra tasks such as hosting a speaker room at this year’s Spaces Summit and conducting interviews for potential new team members. And it’s not limited to work-related activities alone. From team-building events to coding and board game meetups, whatever you’re looking for in a community you can find here at bol.”

"While being a woman and a foreignermight set me apart from the norm,these aspects don’t define me. I am alsoan engineer, skilled at what I do, and Iappreciate that bol recognizes that." - Angelica Rao, Senior Software Engineer

Angelica Rao - Senior software engineer

Celebrating uniqueness

That feeling of community is exactly what Angelica feels sets bol apart from her previous work experiences. “When I come to work at bol, I can be myself completely without feeling the need to pretend. I’m allowed to freely express my ideas, show my ambition and try things out. No problem if you fail here, you’re allowed to give it a go. The community lifts you up and recognises your attempts and successes, which I now also do with my colleagues in return. You give what you receive.”

As a Bulgarian/Italian, does Angelica feel like a ‘Dutchy’ now? “In our team of nine, only three colleagues are Dutch, so we have quite a mix of nationalities and backgrounds. Managing this diversity on the work floor and understanding the differences is, to me, super fun and interesting. Ultimately, I’ve never felt like ‘that foreigner’ or ‘that woman’ at bol. While I am of course both of these aspects and they might set me apart from the norm, they don’t define me. I am also an engineer, skilled at what I do. I appreciate that bol recognizes that and allows me to bring my true authentic self to the table, embracing all of who I am as a person.”