From Poland to Calgary for a vibrant tech scene

Filip Florek, Full Stack Developer for CGI shares his experience studying, working and living in Calgary.

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Consistently ranked as one of the world’s top 10 most livable cities, Calgary is a great place to start your career and build a fulfilling life.  Job opportunities, a supportive community and overall livability are among the many reasons why Calgary is becoming a top destination for talent. 

Filip Florek, Full Stack Developer for CGI, sat down with us to explain why companies – and people – thrive in Calgary. 



Why did you choose to study in Calgary?  

I moved to Canada from Poland two years ago because I had the opportunity to play professional volleyball and receive a great education. 

As a student athlete at SAIT, I studied Object Oriented Software Development, which was a yearlong certificate that I completed in June 2022. 

When evaluating my choices for post-secondary, I talked with volleyball coaches from Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary. Out of all three, I chose Calgary because it was the most affordable, and I heard great things about SAIT. I was also convinced by Calgary’s proximity to the mountains and accessibility to nature. 

What was your experience studying in Calgary like? 

My experience at SAIT was unique because of the emphasis placed on learning skills that are applicable in the real world - it wasn't overly theoretical.  

Our instructors were in touch with business leaders throughout Calgary to discuss what skills companies look for when they’re hiring. Based on what they learned, they would alter the program slightly to ensure we were learning the right skills. 

I also really liked the emphasis put on a group projects because software development is a team sport. Especially on a larger scale, you need to be able to communicate well to develop whatever products you need. 

How would you describe your job search after graduation and the role you currently have?  

SAIT set me up for success after graduation because it helped me build the soft-skills and team building skills I needed for interviews. I actually found my current position at a tech consulting company by connecting with a recruiter at an event organized by SAIT. 

As a software developer at CGI, I am able to be very creative, especially when it comes to problem solving. The variety and flexibility of the work makes it easy to find projects you’re particularly interested in. 

At CGI, I have access to professional development opportunities, including receiving additional certifications like cloud development, and my colleagues are always there to teach and mentor me. 

How would you describe the opportunities for new grads in Calgary’s tech sector? 

Recently, I started looking into Calgary’s tech community and was pretty surprised that the tech scene here is quite vibrant. 

Whether you’re looking for networking or more technical opportunities like a lecture or workshop, there's plenty of tech groups that have monthly or weekly meetings. 

My goal is to go from a software developer to a software architect. In Calgary, I’m able to connect with more senior people to ask what an architect role looks like and get more specifics about the Calgary market. 

I think there are a lot of opportunities for new grads in Calgary’s tech industry. Some recent big news here is the announcement of the Amazon Web Services Canada West (Calgary) Region, which is forecasted to open in late 2023 or early 2024. Companies will want to come to Calgary to be closer to the AWS Data Center, and this will create more jobs for new grads. 

There are also many remote tech jobs so you can enjoy the city even if your employer isn’t located here. 

What are your favourite things about studying, working and living in Calgary? What makes Calgary unique? 

Living in Calgary also allows me to follow my passions outside of work. Now that I finished playing for SAIT, I have made the switch to beach volleyball. You might be surprised to learn that there is a great beach volleyball community in Calgary with plenty of leagues and tournaments. 

As an avid hiker and skier, I love exploring the area close to Calgary all year round. It is a dream come true to have mountains like this an hour away. 

Calgary is pretty unique because it gives all the benefits of a big city, but at the same time it is easy to escape to the mountains. It offers the advantages of a city and is so close to nature – which I think is hard to get anywhere else in the world. 

Ready to see what it's like to live, work and play in Calgary?