So You Want To Be A Software Developer?

I’ve been working in Software Development for over ten years now. First as an engineer, then a tech lead, and now a manager. It’s an extremely exciting, challenging, and rewarding industry to work in but it can also be stressful and quite opaque from the outside.

I had the misfortune of leaving university in 2008, right in the middle of the financial crisis. I’d like to be able to tell you about rejection letter after disappointing email but the truth was more often than not I head nothing. I was one of the lucky ones, after three months of sending applications off onto the void I stumbled across a small company in Harrogate who took me on and saw my potential as a future developer. I’m immensely grateful to Bill, Joy, Pete, Chet and the others who invested in me and gave me that opportunity to show that this was an industry I could thrive in.

People looking to enter IT in 2021 are going to be facing competition just as difficult, if not more so than I did. I want to help. That’s why, over the next few weeks I want to blog and write my advice, suggestions, and advice for anyone looking to join the industry for the first time. I’m in an immensely fortunate position of having gone full circle from applicant, to engineer, to experienced hiring manager and this is my attempt to pay if forward for all the people who have helped me along my journey.

If you would like to receive this information then please subscribe to my blog and follow the Twitter Account. I would also like to set up a mailing list but, as that’s likely cost £££s I’ll wait until I’ve got a few people following along and feeding back to make sure I’m not spending purely for my own vanity.

The software industry is not what you see in the movies!

So what is working in the software industry actually like?

First, there’s a lot less creation of new software than you may actually expect. There are “greenfield” projects as we call them. But these are usually with either startups (which can be potentially risky) or an established company investing heavily in a new product. The majority of software roles out there are for established companies wanting to fix bugs and expand the functionality of their existing systems.

We rarely work alone. Most companies have teams of around seven people called Scrum Teams. These teams will contain a mix of developers and testers, most will also contain a representative from the business called a Product Owner.

Professional Software Developers rarely work alone, teams of around seven people are most traditional.

When most people think of development they think of websites and mobile apps because those are the most visible. However, unless you decide to specialise in web or mobile you’re much not likely to find a role building membership systems (my second job), warehouse stock inventory, or finance (my current job). Software is everywhere and there are IT jobs out there in sectors you haven’t even heard of yet.

I want to finish this post by asking you a question. I’ve interviewed more people than I can count and asked hundreds of questions in interviews, I want to give you practice answering these questions so you don’t get stuck when you find yourself on the phone or in an interview situation.

Given what you know what especially appeals to you about working in the software industry?

Think of your answer and let me know how you’d answer either on Twitter, via email, or by posting in the comments below.

I hope you found this post useful. As I mentioned above this is going to be the first in a series which I will aim to publish each Thursday. So please subscribe to the blog and follow me on Twitter, join my email list (when it’s available), and share it with anyone else you know who’s likely to be looking for a role in software development in 2021.