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Alumni Q&A: How Andrés Viesca's work is helping improve lives in European cities

Hack Reactor

Alumni Story Andres Viesca

Hack Reactor graduate Andrés Viesca is now a Senior Software Engineer at Dott, a micro-mobility company based in Amsterdam that operates more than 30,000 shared electric scooters and electric bikes in 17 cities in Europe.

We recently caught up with Andrés to ask about his role, how the company is helping improve lives in European cities, how the bootcamp helped shape his career, and much more.


What drew you to software engineering? What keeps you interested?

I learned how to code in high school, and since then, I developed an interest in it. But it was not until I enrolled in college and started to deal with it in a deeper sense that I got hooked into it.

While the college degree I was pursuing at the time was Mechatronics, I started to realize more and more that my true passion was on the software side. Also, the web in general always perplexed me, I wanted to understand and learn more about how it worked. I became determined to learn about it on my own with some online courses. By the time I completed them, I realized that I had just discovered a whole new world and that I really liked it.


What led you to enroll in the Hack Reactor program?

I met some former Hack Reactor students in México City (where I am from). We hung around a couple times during their visit to the city, and at some point, we started talking about my interest to pursue a software career and they introduced me to Hack Reactor. They spoke so well about their own experiences in Hack Reactor and how well prepared they were after the program that it literally became my main goal to get accepted in the program, go to San Francisco, and land a job. It took me 3 tries but finally, I was accepted and I took the course in person in San Francisco in 2015.


What did you get out of your time in the bootcamp? 

I got a lot out of my time in the bootcamp. For starters, I got to experience San Francisco, which was in itself a great experience. Also, I met amazingly talented people from all over the world, people from the staff and faculty, some of whom I am still in contact with.

I experienced the most intense and productive three months of my life. Every single day during the course I felt like I was thrown yet again into another rabbit hole. And while it was a lot of work, it really prepared me for a lot of the challenges that I faced early on in my career and beyond.


You’ve been with Dott for a while now. What is your role there? What do you do on a daily basis?

I am a Senior Software Engineer and a member of the Platform team at Dott, which is responsible for the development and maintenance of Dott’s core tooling, systems, and infrastructure.

On a daily basis, I review a lot of code for different projects, write different RFCs for either new services, infrastructure, or tooling depending on the goals of the team, and I implement what was agreed on approved RFCs.

Currently, I am working on what we call MaaS (Mobility as a service), which as the name might suggest, enables consumers to bridge with our Platform and use our fleet directly from a 3rd party app. For this, we used gRPC and Envoy as a transcoder layer for consumers that can only deal with JSON APIs.


I see your company is based in Amsterdam. Do you live there or work remotely for the company? And if you do live there now, how do you like it? 

The company is based in Amsterdam, however I live in Rotterdam. I came here for my previous job around 5 years ago, and I liked it so much that I decided to stay.

It is a great place to live (if you don't mind the weather). There are a lot of social securities here, for instance, have you ever heard of permanent contracts? They are a thing here that anyone gets after the 3rd contract extension.

People are nice and open. If you don't cause any trouble, no one gets in your way for anything. And while the language is difficult to master, everyone seems to speak perfect English and there are a lot of expats, too.


On your LinkedIn page, you wrote: “I see my job as a great way to contribute to the effort of making the lives of others easier using technology.” Can you talk a bit about this in relation to your current role?

Dott’s mission is to free cities with clean rides for everyone. I truly believe that this is something that is already having a real impact since we are making cities less congested, less polluted, and more efficient.

My role as an engineer on the Platform team has a direct effect on this mission because our work translates into high quality and high performance, which ultimately makes the user experience better and therefore more attractive to use.


That's awesome. Beyond that, what do you like about your role? And/or, what challenges have you run into?

I like that in my role I get to deal with lots of different technologies and concepts. I learned a lot about different Cloud Service providers and how their products fit in a broad architecture. I also managed to dive into things like terraform, gRPC, monitoring & alerting, CI/CD, and low-level protocols like TCP and UDP.

Some of the challenges I have faced have been around aligning varied stakeholders both internal and external. We face a lot of different requirements coming from the municipalities we operate in, and we need to comply or we lose our right to operate there. But we have managed so far to get to a very solid position in all of our markets, so that makes me very happy and proud.


Lastly, do you have any advice for someone who’s about to step into their first day of the bootcamp? How can they get the most out of their experience? 

The biggest advice I could give someone is to be patient. It is ok to struggle with new concepts and even get frustrated with them, but if you keep working and listen to the feedback that you receive, it will go great.

This applies also after the bootcamp. Some people will get jobs very quickly, and some will take longer. But that is not indicative of anything. If you keep on trying and improving, you will land in an awesome company!

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Want to read another alumni story? Learn how Jason Wesson went from teaching middle school science to becoming a software engineer for Code for America.