While many young people are leaving Croatia, there are some who have decided to return.
Tomislav Gudlek, a young software developer who has so far worked in Silicon Valley, Zurich and New York, has decided to return to Zagreb, reports Index.hr on November 15, 2016.
He came to Croatia to work for the Croatian-Slovenian startup company Bellabeat. Tomislav explained why he decided to return to his homeland and whether there is any hope for young IT developers like him in Croatia. “During college, I went several times to the United States for summer internships. I liked the multiculturalism which surrounded me, and the possibility to look at projects from many different perspectives”, said Tomislav, adding that everybody should try to gain internship experience. “Interviews were challenging, but they can be overcome. The most important thing is to be good at maths, but it is quite possible to learn it during college in Croatia, if students really want to master it, and not only pass the exam” explained Tomislav.
Although internships open many doors, the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences where he studied does not offer enough support for students who want to gain such experience. Unfortunately, if they want to do a full internship, students must be absent from the beginning of the academic year.
“After graduation, I went abroad due to better business opportunities which exist in other countries, but also due to a different approach towards work and people. For example, the team which I worked for at Google had 12 people from 10 different countries. However, when it comes to work, they are all equally valuable and they contribute to the final project.”
In Silicon Valley, developers change employers every two to three years. Tomislav was looking for a new business opportunity in Europe when his university colleague Igor Jerković introduced him to Bellabeat, a Croatian-Slovenian startup responsible for products that deal with health monitoring. “I was won over by the company’s prospects, as well as projects on which I could work. Of course, a big advantage was the fact that I was finally at home”, said Tomislav. “San Francisco, New York and Zurich have their charms, but home is home, and Bellabeat is a great opportunity. I believe that majority of people who leave really want to stay in Croatia, but they do not have competitive environment. The state should encourage free and competitive climate for work and entrepreneurship, that is the only way to keep educated people.”
“This trend of people leaving the country will continue as long as politicians do not realize that endless regulations, taxes and restrictions drive people out of their homeland. Even Romania and Belarus give greater importance to IT sector than Croatia, and they have introduced computer science lessons in schools and lower tax rates. While the public is concerned with issues such as whether religious studies will be held during or after school, Croatian IT companies must worry whether their office has a required safe, properly marked fire exit in a 30-square-metre office, and similar less important things”, said Tomislav about differences between Croatia and Europe.
However, he does not expect that working for Bellabeat in Croatia will differ from his previous jobs. It is not difficult to work with high-quality people, and the biggest change will be that he is now working in a small team and on significantly smaller projects.