Learning With A View on The Future: The Story of Daniela Zdravkovska

Learning With A View on The Future: The Story of Daniela Zdravkovska

When people walk into a company, they take some time to settle in and get going, but there are some people – like IT Labs’ Junior BA, Daniela Zdravkovska – who hit the ground running and are simply a pleasure to work with.

She walked into IT Labs in the summer of 2020, starting out as an intern, and then joined us full-time – and now, two years later, she decided to share her story so far, and her dreams of what we’re sure will be an amazing future.

You’ve been with us for two years now - how is going so far? What are you most proud of?

I joined ITLabs as a Junior Business Analyst in January 2021 after completing my internship in the summer of 2020. So far, I’ve had the chance to work on different projects and industries and collaborate with a diverse team of great professionals I’ve learned so much from! Most proud of? I believe it is the project I am currently working on as a BA, being the first project I am entirely leading by myself—also, the possibility to bring our team to the Jumpstarter’s finals. Jumpstarter is an EU initiative and program where ITLabs applied in collaboration with the Faculty of Engineering (FEIT) Skopje with a solution that focuses on the establishment of an EV platform with a purpose of developing a modern solution that will support the growing EV infrastructure in Macedonia, with a view to expand it in the region.


What’s the biggest change you experienced with IT Labs? What surprised you the most?

The good thing about the tech industry and IT environment, I guess, is that it is never dull. Change is our constant, we live it daily, meeting different customers, working with a different set of people, and technologies, and facing different challenges both from tech and business perspectives. Having this in mind, I cannot think of something in particular that surprised me the most, work-related. On the other hand: the people – ITLabs is full of amazing people. Friendly, and always willing to contribute both to the company and outside of it. We’ve seen many small acts of kindness making the change for our small communities.


You obviously want to progress and grow and probably have a plan on what and who you want to be 5 years from now  care to share?

Five years from now seems like a reasonable time for me to gain some deep experience in business analysis practices and start climbing the project management ladder. Also, during my master’s studies, I’ve been focused a lot on the operational side of the business, so in maybe 6-7 years from now, I’d really like to see myself covering the role of operations management, improving processes, performance while helping the organization with operational strategies and improve our day-to-day work and working conditions.


Favorite thing to do with co-workers?

Honesty, I did not have enough opportunities to spend some time with my colleagues and do some activities. With the whole Covid-19 thing going on, between personal and professional stuff, I can say that I barely worked for 2-3 months from the office, while mostly doing my job from home. I participated in a few of the many knowledge share sessions we have at IT Labs, and I attended a couple of happenings in the office Arena. Since I prefer live gatherings, I’d say that the Arena gatherings and events are my favorite so far.


What’s the one piece of advice you would give to future techies?

Have no fear when joining the IT world. It is a fun place to grow both as a professional and human! 


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The Defined Road – The Story of Simona Stavreva

The Defined Road – The Story of Simona Stavreva 

The road of all the people looking to make it in tech, or in any other industry for that matter is rarely – or better said, almost never – defined and laid out. Well, not for IT Labs’ Intermediate QA Engineer, Simona Stavreva, who knew exactly what she wanted to do and where she wanted to do it.

She walked through our doors four years ago, and has been growing and progressing through the ranks (and the skills) – and if that isn’t a worthy story, what is?

Her story, in her words, all below.

How did you end up with us?

I heard about IT Labs at the Job Fair event on FEIT. At the time, I just finished my ISTQB certification and was looking for opportunities to gain practical knowledge in software testing. I checked out the website, applied on the company web page, and in record time I had an interview scheduled. The rest, as they say, is history.


What was your experience in the internship program? With the mentors?

Regarding the internship program, I remember we were a group of 6 new interns, working on a new project from the start. It was a great experience to participate in the whole process of creating business requirements, design, implementation, and testing of the software with the help of experienced engineers. Three months during which all of us boosted our knowledge and got some real experience. I would like to add that working with the whole group of interns is a very positive thing as we learn and grow together – those are friendships for life!


What do you see yourself doing in the future? The only way is up, so where exactly is that?

On the day of the interview, I expressed my passion for automation testing which was heard by the company, and I was given the opportunity to work and grow in that field – so, I see myself automating test cases and speeding up the whole test process.


What does your average day look like?

Every day starts with a stand-up meeting, but after that – every day is special. Generally, in 2 weeks sprints I work on analysis of new requirements, planning test strategy, implementing, and executing manual and automation tests and demonstrating the new functionalities on product owners, but every day includes meetings and discussion with my colleagues and most important learning new techniques, approaches, and tools for testing.


Something personal you'd like to add?

I’ve been with IT Labs for four years now and want to add that here at IT Labs, the internship is not the only time you get to have a mentor and support from more experienced people, but also as an employee – we always support each other, because as everyone knows, sharing is caring.


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From Intern to Software Architect: The Journey of Aleksandra Gjinovska

From Intern to Principal Software Architect: The Journey of Aleksandra Gjinovska

Deciding to enter the world of tech is a big decision – there are a lot of things to learn and become a pro at. But if you have a general idea of what you want to do and know that learning is a never-ending process – you will find your passion. Just ask our Aleksandra Gjinovska.

She walked into IT Labs as an intern almost ten years ago, and has since grown and developed to become a Principal Software Architect. She decided to share her journey with aspiring techies, to show that nothing is impossible if you have your mind set on learning and growing.

Read on.

How did you end up with us?

I searched for an internship program to fill my extra time while preparing my graduate thesis. A friend told me about the internship in IT Labs, so I applied. A couple of days after the interview, they called me up to tell me that I shall begin in a couple of days. Have to say, it’s one of the best decisions I made about my career – I still remember how excited I was that day.


What was your experience in the internship program? With the mentors?

I had a great time during the internship. Blagoja Panovski, (a senior engineer at the time, now a Principal Software Architect), was my mentor, and I learned a lot from him, but what impressed me the most was the working atmosphere, the friendly attitude of the senior engineers, and their willingness to guide and share knowledge. The lunch breaks, hangouts, and treasure hunting team building are things I still remember.


What do you see yourself doing in the future? The only way is up, so where exactly is that?

I had my sights set on becoming a software architect, and I worked hard to become one – since reaching that goal, I’m now focused on solution design, being a good mentor and leader, and just learning something new every day.


What does your average day look like?

As a software architect, my day is filled with a lot of activities: from code reviews, coding, deployments, and meetings with teams – all the way to engaging in more company-level activities, which include planning, brainstorming sessions, mentorship, and development programs. Aside from the regular work stuff, there are the coffee breaks, hanging out with colleagues, and chit-chatting with people from other teams.


Something personal you'd like to add?

An advice for all aspiring techies – it’s okay to not have a clear vision of what you want to do in the future or what you want to specialize in or become a pro at. I came here as an undergrad without a clear vision in which direction I wanted to develop, but I knew I had to keep learning and growing. At IT Labs, I have the chance to experiment and work with cutting-edge tech, but also improve my skills and develop new ones – some of which I was not even aware of before. I’ve been here for almost ten years now and stayed because I knew I’d have the kind of environment and culture that would fit me – a collaborative environment where individuals work as one cohesive team and knowledge flows freely. Find this, and you’ll do great things.


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From QA to BA: The Story of Stefanija Djajkoska

From QA to BA: The Story of Stefanija Djajkoska

Sometimes you set your mind to one thing, but along the way, you learn that you have qualities for a different thing, so you decide to give this different thing a chance and it ends up fitting you. Like. A. Glove.

How? Just ask our Senior Business Analyst, Stefanija Djajkoska, who came to IT Labs as an intern about 6 years ago, and has risen through the ranks – learning and growing along the way.

This is her IT Labs story.

How did you end up with us?

It was during my studies; we had a mandatory internship. My uni colleague, Magde, (now my co-worker) had mentioned that she started an internship at IT Labs, so I decided to apply for the summer program as well, and I got in!


What was your experience in the internship program? With the mentors?

Quite the rollercoaster. I applied for QA internship, however during the interview and the assessment, the recruitment people told me that my skills are more suitable for BA. At the time I didn’t know exactly what a BA was, but I decided to shoot my shot and accepted the offer. I learned a great deal from my mentors, as they supported me every step of the way, and helped me immensely during the internship, and also later on.


What do you see yourself doing in the future? The only way is up, so where exactly is that?

Lately, my focus has been on product management activities, so I see my future self: climbing the product manager/product owner ladder. I’m interested in this field and at IT Labs, we’re encouraged to keep learning and developing, so I’ll go for it!


What does your average day look like?

Facilitating meetings with both the team and the clients, lots of emails, documenting requirements, doing analysis and research, brainstorming, preparing mockups, and the list goes on. No day is the same, and that’s the one thing I really love about this job.


Anything personal to add?

When I first came to IT Labs, my goal was to learn more about software quality and become an experienced QA engineer. But I walked out of the internship interview as a BA intern. You might ask yourself how and why this has happened, but remember this – people here can see potential in you, to develop in ways you’re not even aware are possible.


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Where The Road May Lead: Five Minutes with Vlatko Zmejkoski

Where The Road May Lead: Five Minutes with Vlatko Zmejkoski

Starting out as an intern, Vlatko came through the ranks here at IT Labs as a Backend Engineer a little over three years ago, and has been with us since. While we know his story, it’s high time we share it with you. Short and simple, we sat down with him for a quick, somewhat brash, 5-min chat during which we got to pick his brain and see how’s life at IT Labs for him. The results are below.

How did you end up with us?

It was an ex-roommate who had already started an internship in ITL who suggested that I apply. Funny story, I was interviewed multiple times (Ana Strezoska, IT Labs’ People Specialist, may confirm), the first interview was for a DevOps engineer, but I ended up changing my mind and coming again for a second as a Backend Engineer, yeah… that was a lot of interviews through the process, but in the end, it was actually perfect, as I found something that really interested me and the time, and I’m still going with that.


What was your experience in the internship program? With the mentors?

I can say for sure that I started from 0.5 with truly little knowledge in software development outside the general programming knowledge from the university and learned A LOT throughout the program. Miki Jovanovski was there as our mentor supporting and teaching us how to be better developers, now, he is on my team, and I’m still learning from him.


What do you see yourself doing in the future? The only way is up, so where exactly is that?

I don’t really have a “set in stone” future job position, but I’d like to go with the flow, and explore and learn things that I find interesting and things that can make a difference, but yes, the sky is the limit. Also, IT Labs has a policy that allows people to move not just up the ladder, but also horizontally – you can switch from one stack to another, to different projects, different techs, and this is perfect for anyone willing to learn more and try to find their calling.


What does your average day look like?

It always starts with a morning daily stand-up, a shake, and a coffee near me, and by noon we are done with meetings (hooray), but yeah, meetings are essential when you realize you need additional meetings for confirmations and syncs. After noon, I start with daily coding tasks, have other meetings with the team, and maybe prepare a pull request for code review (probably another cup of coffee in the meantime). And that’s a day in a wrap.


Something personal you'd like to add

I’m a gamer at heart, I love coffee, passionate about technology, from recently into AI sphere and started CrossFit training.


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Learning From Your Competitors 101

Learning From Your Competitors 101

So, you have a business idea and you’ve set to develop it so you can get your product or service out there and start making a name for yourself!

But before you can do that, you need to learn more about the market, about your industry, and get “a feel” of where you’re positioned in terms of features, price, functionalities – all the makings of a product or a service. And how do you do that? By learning more about your competition!

As a Senior Business Analyst, I’ve seen businesses grow and develop. I have seen what made them hold out for those critical first years – knowledge about the market, your position, and your competition.

Let’s dive in!

Stefanija Djajkoska - Business Analyst


What is Competitive Analysis, And Why It’s Important?

To understand the importance and the need for competitive analysis, let me start with a story:

Two friends are hiking in a forest, and they run into a bear – the first one gets down right away to tie their running shoes and prepare for walking, while the second one stands there and asks the first, ‘Are you that sure that you’ll be able to outrun the bear?’ to which the first one responds ‘No, I just need to run faster than you.’

That one always gives me a chuckle, but it’s educational, and it’s the first point we need to understand is that our performance is measured compared to our competitors. We might think we have the best product or best service, but we won’t know for sure until we put ourselves out there and see how we perform when rubbing shoulders with the competition.

In business, you must be aware of the competition when entering a new market, a new industry, or just shipping a new service or product – or simply risk getting pushed out.

What is it?


Competitive analysis is a subset of another type of research called ‘market research – and in market research, the main steps are collecting, analyzing, and then interpreting data about the market. It can help you find information about your target market, the industry, the competitors (our focus), and consumer feedback.

If we were to define the process, we can do it with in the following way: Competitive analysis – the process of identifying current and/or potential competitors to gain knowledge about their:

  • Products or services
  • Strengths and weaknesses
  • Sales strategy
  • Marketing tactics
  • Competitive advantage

Why do it?


In order to properly analyze your competition, you need to know the why behind it – why even do it? Knowing this can help you find the areas you need to research and can help you modify your approach to have a higher chance of success. Here are the main reasons for doing a competitive analysis:

  • To analyze the industry and the market
  • To compare the features of competitor’s products/services
  • To see why some products are good or bad, or better or worse than others
  • To draw conclusions on how we can be better than the existing ones
  • To identify potential gaps that we can fill
  • Gain a new (or extra) perspective on your business

How to do the analysis?

  • Тhere are five steps to any analysis – each consisting of unique requirements, all of which pose a challenge. It goes like this:
    • Start with the end in mind – you need an objective or an end goal (increase sales, turn customers, convert other customers, expansion). Otherwise, you’ll end up with piles of context-less information that you’ll drown in and be unable to derive any valuable information. An objective can help you find the essential bits of information you need.
    • Select the top 5-10 competitors – depending on the objectives, you should be able to find your competitors and use the ones you’re most likely to go head-to-head or have the most similar product or service to yours.
    • Develop criteria factors, analyze and compare findings – what are you going to compare against? You can pick them from the objective (set already in step 1) and compare prices, reviews, behavior, how dedicated the clients/users are to your competition.
    • Determine strength and weaknesses in your competition – using the data and the criteria from the previous step; you can determine the strong and weak points of your competitors, and find your advantage point.
    • Identify areas of improvement (for your product/service) – based on your objective set in the first step, you’ll find what needs improving – it’s that simple. What was the purpose of the analysis? Once you answer your question, you’ll know which and if your product or service needs improvement/change.

Ways to Collect Data

Collecting data for any type of analysis is not an easy task. Sometimes data can be hard to collect, or find, or sometimes it might just be unreliable. Here’s some tips from me to help you jump over these hurdles and get your valuable data:

The Primary Research approach


by this, it means that you will be the primary collector of the data. A review poll with scales from 1 to 10, would you recommend it to close people – ask people to answer questions and pick a choice from offered competitors’ products/services. This approach is all about creating questionnaires that can help you collect valuable data, or coming in contact with the product, employees – all people related to the product In some way.

The Secondary Research approach


it’s all about collecting data through other/third party sources. It can be checking out their websites, their content, analyze their marketing approach – just about any other type of information that has been collected and maybe processed by someone else.

The Detective


do your research by requesting demos, download trial versions, find unlisted video tutorials for the application, user manuals, etc – get into deep researching and try to learn as much as you can about not just their product or service, but also their approach.

The Must-haves

Aside from the regular approaches, there are some tools and methods that can help you get your game to the next level, and also help you deliver better results. Here’s a few things I think any BA should have ready.

Benchmarking


In a table like this one you can input all the basic but important information, and have a general overview of who and what you’re going up against.

SWOT Analysis


It’s pretty basic, yet it’s the type of analysis that can pinpoint issues and give that sense of direction, of knowing where you’re moving to, and give you a good general overview on your business and product, and your competition and their products – you can find the kind of gap or opportunity with a good SWOT analysis.

Company Profile


A hyper-detailed document for your competitors – what is their mission and vision? Who are their ambassadors? Strategy? Products and services? Management and executives? – basically anything you can find on them you’re putting them in your Company Profile document. Pictures, screenshots, text, reports – all structured in a good manner. Can be time-consuming, but can be incredibly rewarding.

Key Takeaways


Preparation is key, and learning about your competition and their habits, methods, and MO can help you not just find opportunities and gaps, but also learn from their mistakes and know what does and doesn’t work.

Know your competition and your target audience – and you’ll know exactly what your business will need.


IT Labs Supporting MASSUM’s Educational Rendezvous 2022

IT Labs Supporting MASSUM’s Educational Rendezvous 2022

Earlier this year, at the annual Educational Rendezvous organized by MASSUM, our lead graphic designer, Darko Stolevski, participated as a judge in the competition for creating a web page, which was then graded based on a variety of criteria.

The criteria for the competition were divided into four categories – functionality, design, content, uniqueness, and efficiency – all coming with a list of set requirements that the web page should have in order to rake in the most points. The solutions provided were all exemplary, but in the end, there was one winner. 

The cooperation between IT Labs and MASSUM goes back more than a decade, and with young people and their engagement in technology being one of the core focus points at IT Labs in the past and going forward, we felt that Darko can provide invaluable feedback and insight for all the young techies that participated at this rendezvous.


IT Laughs with Vlad Ilich

IT Laughs with Vlad Ilich

The tech industry, like any other, is full of its own quirks and oddities, something people on the outside have a hard time understanding, so they do the next best thing to it – they make jokes about it. And we all know, there are a lot of jokes about techies and some technologies, be it backend, front end, data analysts, Python, Java – you name it, there are jokes about it out there. Hundreds.

IT Laughs with Vlad Ilich

The tech industry, like any other, is full of its own quirks and oddities, something people on the outside have a hard time understanding, so they do the next best thing to it – they make jokes about it. And we all know, there are a lot of jokes about techies and some technologies, be it backend, front end, data analysts, Python, Java – you name it, there are jokes about it out there. Hundreds.

Here at IT Labs, we appreciate a good developer or any other tech-related joke as much as anyone – even if it’s about all of us techies and all the funny jokes that come from “living the tech/developer way”. All of us here at IT Labs know what it means to walk the walk, but also laugh at the talk of our own ways – it’s how we bond, and it’s how IT Labbers nurture the values that we’ve built over the years.

Cue Vlad Ilich – a stand-up comedian who has already put smiles on many faces, and who came to us through his webcam to share his unique (but incredibly funny) view on the tech world, and of course – some of the other ones out there as well.

All in all, our face muscles and jaws hurt, and some of us even shed a tear or two (from laughing, of course!). Thank you very much, Vlad!


IT Labs Set to Take Part at The 'I Am Woman' Conference

IT Labs Set to Take Part at The 'I Am Woman' Conference


On the 20th and 21st of July, IT Labs’ General Manager, Kostandina Zafirovska, will participate in the “I Am Woman” conference, which will take place in the Youth Cultural Center in Skopje. Kostandina will take part in the panel discussion titled “Macedonian women in business and multimedia”, which is scheduled on July 21st, from 18:15.

Register Now!

The “I Am Woman” conference is organized by three young women, enthusiasts who’re looking to improve the rights and freedoms of women in Macedonia: Ana Dukoska, founder of ‘Macedonians Abroad’, Ilina Pejoska Zaturoski, UX/UI designer and an owner of ‘BEBEBOKS’, and Katerina Klimovska, President of ISLAA.
The purpose? Shedding light on women who are successful in unconventional and/or male-dominated industries, and are fighting for women’s rights, and are all-around inspirational. This conference will put all of these exemplary women in one place, giving them a platform on which they can share their experiences, so that others may learn from them, and find ways how we can ensure full and equal women’s participation in all facets of society.

As a company, IT Labs is dedicated to providing a platform on which women can grow and develop, and as strong believers in equality and diversity, know that conferences like this must be supported if we want to move forward, towards a better, more just society.


IT Labs Partners Up With Macedonia2025 to Support Ohrid Hi-Tech Excellence Camp

IT Labs Partners Up With Macedonia2025 to Support Ohrid Hi-Tech Excellence Camp

IT Labs Partners Up With Macedonia2025 to Support Ohrid Hi-Tech Excellence Camp

We’re proud to announce that IT Labs have partnered up with Macedonia2025, to support their Ohrid Hi-Tech Excellence Camp, which is set to take place in Ohrid, from 10th until 16th of July 2022.

Ohrid Hi-Tech Excellence Camp provides an opportunity for young people of Macedonian origin, aged 11 to 15 and with basic skills in programming and robotics, to further their knowledge in these areas, while also learning methods and practices that can help them develop their critical thinking, creative processes, and problem-solving skills. Furthermore, participants will have the opportunity to get in touch with their roots and network with Macedonians from all over the world.

As supporters of learning and development, IT Labs considers events and camps of this type to be of utmost importance for securing the future of young techies looking to learn more, empowering them on the way to building a better tomorrow through the use of technology.