Oksana Kunikevych works at Grammarly, the Ukrainian company which is considered to be one of the most promising Ukrainian startups nowadays. The company raised 110 million of investment from abroad just a few weeks ago. Grammarly is a service that checks texts for grammar and syntax mistakes. The service works using artificial intelligence. It’s possible to use the service both for private and professional communication. In the interview, Oksana told us about the company from the inside: about the working atmosphere, workplace relations, and importance of self-development.
I have been working at Grammarly as a Computational Linguist in the NLP team (Nature Language Processing) for the last 2 years. What I like about my job the most is that all tasks are very different and challenging. Every next task needs to be solved in a creative way. Sometimes I can spend the whole day reading books and online forums, consulting dictionaries to find the best solution to some contradicting linguistic issue. I frequently write scripts to process different linguistic resources, for example, thesauri and corpora. Also, I develop algorithms for new Grammarly checks that find and correct our users’ mistakes.
Every person at Grammarly is very talented and has wide-ranging interests. All these people together build up the dream team. I believe that a team is the most important thing in every company. If people have the same goal, similar interests, and same views, working with them is easier and more fun.
When I started working at Grammarly, I was surprised that every employee is a big fan of the company’s product. For my coworkers, working here is more than just a job; it’s like a one big family working together. That’s why the working atmosphere is very relaxing and family-like.There is no control because everybody knows what they need to do and they do their job very responsibly. I was also impressed by how much the company cares about self-development of their employees. We have a lot of in-house courses; employees often participate in different conferences and workshops. Every other Friday we have so-called fun days; it means that every employee can spend this day studying, watching some lectures, or working on their own pet project.
There are around 150 people working at Grammarly, 80 of them are based in Kyiv.
I still can’t believe that I got a chance to work at Grammarly. When I was studying in Lviv, I’ve come across an interview on the DOU web page by Marianna Romanyshyn, my present Tech Lead at Grammarly. In that interview, she was telling about the volunteering project called BruK. I decided to join this project and get some experience. Back then, I didn’t even know that it is possible to work as a Computational Linguist in Ukraine. One year later Marianna offered me to apply for the Computational Linguist position at Grammarly. I didn’t expect to get the job and was just interested in trying to apply and write the test. For me, Grammarly seemed too cool, too out of my league. But I have successfully passed a few interviews and was hired. In the beginning, I worked remotely from Lviv, but after graduating from university I moved to Kyiv.
I reacted calmly to the news that Grammarly raised more than 100 million investments. For some reason, all of my friends think that the company will divide these 110 million dollars and give it to its employees in cash. The investment is a great launching pad for our growth. It means that the company will have even more awesome professionals and I will have a chance to learn from NLP gurus.
In the phrase “Ukrainian startup” the key word is “Ukrainian”. Before the news about Grammarly investment, not so many people knew that the company is originally from Ukraine. Grammarly was founded by three friends from Kyiv, and the first version of the product was also made here. Whenever people ask me where I work, I proudly answer that I work in the Ukrainian startup created by Ukrainians.
Working at Grammarly is really fun. Every employee here is not only a professional in their field of expertise but also has many other hobbies and talents. Most of my co-workers either play a musical instrument or dance or do something creative. Not only we work together, but we also spend time together outside of work. Go together for a cycling trip on the weekend, go kayaking at 6 am before work or even travel abroad for the weekend. Why not?
Grammarly offsite is the special event everyone looks forward to. Once a year company organizes a big team-building abroad for all employees. Last year we went to Greece. The whole week after that I was still deeply impressed – I knew that people at Grammarly are cool, but I didn’t realize they are that amazing!