I'm not afraid of hardware. Controlling electricity with software gives me a rush. It gives me a sense of control.Sebastian Janzen Senior Consultant
With INNOQ since 2013.
Working as Senior Consultant.
Sebastian lives with his wife and two children near Leverkusen, exactly between the two INNOQ locations in Cologne and Monheim. He feels at home working with both the front end and the back end. Outside of work, he’s interested in everything related to “measuring, controlling, and regulating.” He is particularly interested in the Internet of Things – a passion that he can fully embrace in his newly built home.
Sebastian was born and raised in Monheim. Naturally, at that time, he had no idea that this would be the headquarters of his future employer. However, it was here that his passion for technology began. As the son of a television technician, even as a child, he was fascinated with everything that was working with electricity. When his family brought a C64 into the house, he discovered his passion for computers. With his father’s help, he began taking computers apart and repaired them. At the age of 8, Sebastian already knew: “One day, I want to work with technology and computers.”
Except that the stereotype that people who are interested in technology and computers are also good at math didn’t exactly apply to Sebastian. He struggled with the subject for a long time in school and found it hard to connect with it. Looking back, he attributes that to the difficulty concentrating he experienced in his youth and a lack of interest. Computer technology was a completely different story – this was a subject he could get excited about and really sink his teeth into. For this reason, he took some detours on the path to achieve his goal of one day working with computers. He transferred schools, and after graduating, he decided to train as an IT assistant. This allowed him to earn an advanced technical college certificate and to go on to college.
Whereas during his school days, Sebastian was essentially on his own with his love of hardware and software, during his professional training he met a number of like-minded people for the first time. Suddenly, he was surrounded by motivated teachers and classmates who were happy to sacrifice their free period to finish developing a computer program. It was here that he formed a circle of friends who would become his roommates and with whom he maintains contact to this day. The practical portion of this training was primarily focused on IT support, from switching out a keyboard to helping with technical problems. However, at the technologically advanced vocational college, students also programmed industrial assembly lines with robotic arms. As a result, Sebastian was equipped with the perfect tools to start his degree in “General Computer Science” at the Cologne University of Applied Sciences in Gummersbach.
His decision to study there was an intentional one. He was particularly motivated and inspired by the practical aspects of the program. A university degree that was mainly centered around computer science and mathematics would have scared him off. Naturally, math was also part of the program at the university, but the practical application of the subject was much easier for him. At first, he didn’t even realize that programming – something he clearly enjoyed – also required a good understanding of mathematics. It was only after having a discussion with one of his professors who taught both mathematics and digital image processing that it clicked for him. And while this realization may not have turned him into a math whiz overnight, he was able to balance this out with his grades in other subjects.
I asked myself: Do I want to keep working like this forever, or do I want to achieve more?
In his first job in 2011, he started out as a developer at a consulting firm with around 20 employees. But he never really felt like he belonged. On the one hand, he felt they never stopped seeing him as a student, and on the other, at some point the work began to bore him. It was around this time that he first heard about INNOQ on the heise Developer podcast. The company made a good impression on him, which is why when he attended W-JAX, a conference for Java, architecture and software innovation, he made sure to listen to INNOQ presentations. At that time, however, he thought he had no chance of ever working for what he considered to be highly specialized “experts.” It was only the next year, when he attended the conference once again, that he found an opportunity for a one-on-one discussion. He not only discovered that INNOQ headquarters was located in his hometown of Monheim, but also realized that he wanted to apply for a job there.
The subsequent interview was far from ideal, Sebastian remembers, smiling. First, he felt a bit overdressed in his suit, and then when he had to choose a technical topic to discuss at the interview, he chose AngularJS and single-page apps – a somewhat controversial subject in the web community. He was extremely impressed by not only the technical discussion that ensued with different opinions on the topic, but also by how in depth the discussion went. He was therefore extremely pleased to hear just one day later that he had gotten the job.
However, Sebastian was not quite sure whether or not the day-to-day work of a consultant was right for him. Would he still develop software himself? Or just be there to advise customers at their offices? And how often would he have to travel? He also wanted to eliminate any self-doubt in terms of his abilities. Luckily, he felt much better after a second meeting, and he was able to quell his fears. He had already acquired a great deal of professional IT experience through his jobs and internships, but the role of a consultant was new for him. For this reason, he started out at INNOQ as just a consultant with the option of becoming a senior consultant in the near future.
Working for INNOQ is like being freelance – without all the annoying parts.
That’s what Sebastian says today, after nearly 10 years at INNOQ and having become a senior consultant in the meantime. You work independently, but you don’t have to worry about invoices or bookkeeping. However, it took him a while to get used to this kind of independence. He remembers an incident from his first week at INNOQ: He had already worked overtime hours in order to take some time off for a doctor’s appointment at the end of the week. But he felt nervous about missing a day of work so early on. His boss' answer was clear: If he had taken care of everything with the client, he was welcome to split up his working hours as he saw fit.
As a father of two young children, the ability to work from home was already important to Sebastian long before the pandemic. This flexibility helps his family to manage their everyday lives, which isn’t always easy because Sebastian’s wife often has to take time off for health reasons. Clearly structured daily and weekly schedules with agile methods help a great deal. Sebastian aptly calls it “inconsistency within consistency.” In addition, Sebastian’s older son suffers from persistent concentration problems – much like Sebastian did in his childhood – and can therefore only pay attention for long stretches to things that really interest him. This results in additional discussions and arguments that require a great deal of patience. Since Sebastian works from home, he can also take over for his wife as needed, for example to pick up the children. They can also go to doctor’s appointments, which are difficult to come by, together whenever they need to. They are simply better able to overcome these challenges together as a family.
Once you have the diagnosis, you can work with that.
Due to his wife’s and his son’s medical histories and the corresponding diagnoses, Sebastian has also been able to draw parallels to himself and his own health. As a child, he also often had difficulty concentrating, which impacted his performance in math at school, for example. At that time, no one had heard of ADHD. However, his problems concentrating were already documented in his elementary school report cards. As well as the fact that he was great at focusing on something when it genuinely interested him – a talent that helps him develop software today. In the meantime, he knows that he has a form of ADHD; knowledge that gives him a sense of relief: “Once you have the diagnosis, you can work with that.” He has found ways to manage his ADHD. And his family is also getting the therapeutic support they need. Nevertheless, he is thankful to have a job that allows him to divide up his time flexibly so that he can also be there for his wife and his two sons.
A few years ago, the family moved into a new home that they put a lot of work into fixing up. Earlier he could not have imagined it, and yet today, he finds working in the backyard or completing DIY projects around the house to be a pleasant way to offset his desk work. But his favorite hobby is devoting himself to everything related to “measuring, controlling, and regulating” in his workshop.
Because he also works professionally on smart-home projects at INNOQ, he uses this knowledge to automate many things in his home. For example, he is currently working on a way to use microcontrollers to measure the fill level of the cistern, regulate the heating, and control the solar power installation on the roof because he wants to be able to charge his electric car with 100% solar power. For him, it’s a great incentive to develop something for his home that is both sustainable and saves money. For example, he installed a KNX system with displays in every room that shows when the roof installation has excess energy. This way, everyone knows when it’s the perfect time to run the dishwasher or the washing machine. Sebastian puts it like this: “It’s fun, it’s environmentally friendly, and it’s technical – it doesn’t get any better than that!”