Being A Grad At Retro

🎉 Hello Rabbits! 🚀

Picture this: It's my very first day at Retro, and I'm greeted not only by the hum of excited grad chatter but also by the unmistakable scent of freshly brewed coffee. As I navigated my way through the vibrant office space, adorned with Retro memorabilia that could rival a rabbit farm, I couldn't help but feel like I had stumbled upon a workplace that felt more inclusive and approachable than your typical 9-to-5.

Journey Overview

My Retro journey kicked off with a whirlwind of excitement and a dash of anticipation. Joining the graduate program, I embarked on this adventure armed with a mixed sense of eagerness and curiosity about what lay ahead. Unaware of the challenges to come and the exciting events on the horizon.

Initially, I thought I was well equipped to enter the big bad world of enterprise-scale software development. I thought wrong. During the first few days of the grad program, we were invited to attend presentations on various topics, from Git skills to Agile methodology and how to cope in high performance teams.

Throughout the program, the grads took on a variety of tasks and challenges. I remember being asked to solve world hunger in our teams. Needless to say, the team members disagreed about the true cause of world hunger… Throughout the exercises and activities we took part in, one thing became clear. Working with others effectively towards a goal will always require excellent soft skills!

Another thing which became clear was that Retro has awesome events. From a weekend away in the bush to a Beer festival to a company-wide Conference. I was quite surprised at how these events not only showcased the company's commitment to fostering a vibrant and inclusive culture but also provided unique opportunities for team bonding and personal growth.

Whether the activity was centered on producing code-based solutions or producing ideas with the broader team, each day brought forth a new challenge and an opportunity to learn. The diversity of tasks was truly mind-boggling. It's this blend of versatility that makes Retro not just a workplace but a playground for professional growth. If you're imagining a graduate program with a twist, Retro has got the recipe down. 🎨 #GradLifeAtRetro

Me at the annual Retro Rabbit Beer Festival :)


Now, let's talk about the real deal – the challenges. Like any rollercoaster ride, my grad journey at Retro had its fair share of twists and turns. Navigating through complex projects, there were moments when the learning curve felt steeper than a mountain goat’s morning climb. The pressure to adapt to a dynamic environment, initially posed quite a challenge. Yet, in the face of adversity, I discovered the power of resilience.

Shortly after the initial trials and tribulations of the grad program, I was placed onto a client project team along with a few other grads. This is where things started to get tricky. Learning how to interact with the other Retro team members while delivering work in a tech stack which I wasn’t familiar with was a tough cookie to crack. Initially, I stumbled over my own two feet with each Pull Request. “Grad problems” is what my mentor (who happened to also be in my team) would say. Did you know? During merge conflicts, grads communicate through a complex mime routine, expressing the emotional turmoil of resolving code differences.

What saved the day? A healthy dose of collaboration and a sprinkle of mentorship. The Retro community is more than just colleagues; it's a support system that rallies behind you when the going gets tough. Seeking guidance from experienced team members and tapping into the collective wisdom of the Retro family became my secret sauce. Turning challenges into my own personal game of hopscotch, I realized that each hurdle wasn't a roadblock but a chance to showcase my ninja skills and level up in the grand adventure of life. Each challenge was a chance to #BeBetter.

These challenges, although they were stumbling blocks at first, were the catalysts for my personal and professional growth. They pushed me to explore uncharted territories, cultivate interpersonal skills and develop a resilience that is now woven into the fabric of my work ethic. The hurdles turned out to be the very things that propelled me forward. 💪 #GrowthMindset

Look at this photograph… Attending Retro’s meme-themed year end event.


In reflecting on my journey, I'm proud to highlight both the significant achievements and the smaller victories that have shaped my growth. One standout moment was coming 1st at the grad developer’s personal project presentation evening. This project taught me valuable lessons in believing in yourself and keeping your head down until the finish line. The grads achieved countless other victories – late-night debugging sessions that led to breakthroughs, mastering challenging new programming languages, and developing powerful communication skills.

I reached milestones which I am proud of:

  • I became a AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner.
  • I worked on my first client project alongside other Retro developers.
  • I secured a contract on a new client project as a standalone Retro team member.
  • I learnt a lot!

However, the best part of it all, was watching the grads around me achieving anything that they set their minds to.

Advice to 2024 Grads

As you embark on this exciting journey, dear 2024 grads, I offer you a few nuggets of wisdom that I wish I had known when I first started.

  1. Embrace the unknown with open arms; you might not be the best developer for the tech stack at hand and that's perfectly okay. In fact, it's the unpredictability of learning something new that often leads to the most enriching experiences.
  2. Approach challenges with enthusiasm and see them not as obstacles, but as opportunities for growth. Try your absolute best to solve a problem before giving up. Remember that it's okay to ask for help – in fact, it is highly respected to ask for help when you know you need it.
  3. Whether it's navigating a complex project or adapting to the dynamic world of work, don't hesitate to lean on your peers, mentors, and resources available to you. The mentorship program has countless learnings to offer you. Make use of your mentor.
Cuan and I proud to present our homebrewed showcase, Gier, at the Retro Rabbit Beerfest. Despite Phlippie's absence in this photo, his brewing expertise perseveres in absentia.

In conclusion, the journey from a fresh-out-of-the-womb graduate to a seasoned professional is woven with both challenges and triumphs.

Always embrace the uncertainties with enthusiasm, welcome challenges as opportunities, and never underestimate the power of seeking support when needed. Resilience, patience, adaptability, and willingness to learn will be your greatest assets.

Look forward to the Retro events that are planned throughout the year. Welcome the strangers in your midst; believe me, your Retro team transforms every effort into something truly worthwhile.

So, here's to the grads of 2024 – may your future be filled with countless victories, continuous growth, and a fulfilling professional journey. Cheers to new beginnings and the incredible adventures that lie ahead!

About the author

Dylan Pietersen profile picture

Dylan Pietersen

Dylan Pietersen

As a dedicated developer and audiophile, my world revolves around crafting code and savoring great audio experiences. I find joy in the great outdoors, complemented by some good music. Read more from Dylan Pietersen...