13.05.2020Blog

From game developer to integration specialist – read Aku’s story

Aku Korhonen Solita

Although Aku Karhunen’s journey to Integration Specialist hasn’t been the most straightforward, it’s not unconventional either. Solita’s API and integration community is a diverse group of professionals with different backgrounds. Here’s one of them.

Aku, can you tell us about your background?

I have a secret blue-collar past as an automation technician. After graduating from vocational school, I worked with industrial automation and harbour cranes in Finland and abroad for several years. After getting bored with automation work, I studied software development in the ICT degree programme at Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences. I completed the majority of my studies by working on game development in a company my friends and I founded. As a team of five, we worked on our game for 2.5 years, driven by creative freedom and learning by doing. We developed our own game engine, for example.

Once the game was released and I got my degree, I weighed different employment options. I wanted to keep game development as a cherished hobby instead of a day job, so I had to come up with something else. As I was looking for interesting prospects, I came across an ad for Dell Boomi training organised by Solita, which I then applied for. The cloud-based Dell Boomi is one of the integration solutions Solita uses.

What got you excited about integrations?

My biggest motivator for applying to the Boomi course was that I didn’t really know anything about integrations – or the work of an integration expert. Also the fact that the course was free, had a convenient pace, and offered the possibility to complete a certificate supported my decision to apply. In the best possible outcome, I’d get an interesting day job with integrations. If worst came to worst, I would’ve touched base with integrations and would walk away with a Boomi certificate in hand. Either way, completing the course would be a win for me.

The best case scenario unfolded, and after the course, I got recruited into Solita’s Integrations team. What attracted me to integrations in particular was the fact that the job requires mastery of countless of hard and soft skills and continuous self-development. The work itself and its challenges are diverse. The end user benefits from integrations through fewer unnecessary steps and faster processes, which gives my work meaning.

What kind of talent is best suited for the role of an Integration Specialist?

I’d recommend the job to anyone who’s interested in working on diverse projects, with different technologies, systems and people. You need to be prepared to constantly develop yourself and learn new things, both hard and soft skills.

Developer background is definitely an advantage. Many programming-related things play a key role in integrations, too. Computer science, algorithms, architecture and best practices, for example, follow the same laws. Previous experience in different operating systems, development tools, programming languages ​​and their paradigms won’t go to waste. Cloud services are becoming more widespread, and especially with integrations, you’ll become familiar with the cloud at the latest.

The biggest difference between development and integrations is that with integrations you also need to understand the customer’s background systems and business processes. Managing the big picture is especially important when you’re primarily working with many interdependent parties and entities. Communication and working at the customer interface play a significant role in the daily life of an Integration Specialist.

Why should a developer consider a career in integrations?

What’s in it for me?

  • Developer background is a good foundation for working with integrations.
  • Integration work is diverse.
  • The demand for integrations in the market is constantly rising. The work never ends.
  • Integration people have a drier sense of humour than developers.
  • Join the dark side – we’ve got cookies.

So far at Solita, I’ve mainly worked on a multi-site project with a major Nordic customer. The project team includes people from different countries. The customer’s integration needs have surprised me in how varied they are. Most of the integrations I’ve worked on have been related to the management of business-critical data, such as work hour logging, purchase orders and invoices, and HR data. In addition, I’ve worked on the specification and development of procedures.

During orientation, while waiting to join a project, I completed all the certifications related to Dell Boomi. Since I started on the project, I’ve been constantly learning while working. In addition to project work, I can use some of my work time for competence development. I’m currently learning the MuleSoft integration tool alongside project work.

I’ve been pleasantly surprised how Solita’s values manifest in practice. Often, values ​​are just advertising slogans and words to keep up appearances. But Solita is a place that lives according to its values. What’s more, it’s been great to witness the autonomy, diversity and versatility of the work we do.

If you’re interested in the role of an Integration Specialist, you can send us an application. We go through every application carefully, and will be in touch with you. You can also browse our vacancies.