Software development is a constantly growing field, and the ability to program and build custom software is in high demand. For a candidate looking to begin a career in the field of software development, it’s important to make sure that the position is the right fit. Here are a few key questions for aspiring software developers to consider when looking to get started in their careers.
What Makes a Good Software Developer?
While some hiring managers may have different views on what qualities make up the best person for a particular position, when it comes to looking for a good software developer, managers look for one particular quality: Problem-solving. Simply put, software developers are problem-solvers. This is what you’ll hear from both the developers themselves and the managers who hire them.
Hiring managers also stress the importance of the inquisitive mind when evaluating potential candidates for a software developer position. They look for candidates with an analytic mind, curiosity and a passion for learning. Since developers constantly have to stay abreast with the latest technologies, an eagerness to learn and keep up with the most recent trends is key for sustaining a career as a good software developer. Continual learning and a desire to improve one’s skillset are both essential elements that a software developer must possess.
In addition to looking for candidates with a problem-solving and curious mind, hiring managers also identified these other important skills they seek out in software developers: Flexibility, focus on quality, attention to detail and ability to work on a team.
What Should Aspiring Software Developers do to Prepare for their Careers?
Many aspiring developers will enroll in undergraduate college programs in computer since, information systems or other related fields. It’s highly important to take advantage of the educational opportunities available in your college or university. Learning good principles of software design and planning are the best things you can focus on in college. Make sure you don’t skip discrete mathematics – it really helps to have a good understanding of the concepts beneath computer science.
While learning in the classroom is certainly a valuable tool, there are other avenues where developers can improve their skills through other collaborative activities. In the Philadelphia area, for example, there is an event called Code Camp that is put together by the non-profit organization philly.NET. The semi-annual convention has dozens of speakers that talk about a whole range of programming technologies.
Even if you don’t have the ability to attend an event like that, you may not even need to look further than your own school’s computer science department for helpful activities. Some colleges have programming teams or clubs that go and compete against other colleges. Joining one of these teams will give you something close to professional experience and broaden your skillset with things that you don’t learn in class.
What Are the Best Ways for Developers to Present Themselves in Interviews?
One of the best ways for an aspiring developer to assert him or herself during an interview is to simply be honest. Hiring managers don’t expect candidates—especially entry level ones—to be familiar with every technology available. Speak to what you know and not try to guess when you don’t understand a technology. Development is an ever evolving environment and it is ok to not always fully understand all aspects of it. Truthfulness during the interview is vital to ensuring that the candidate is indeed right for the position.
Some of the best interviews are conducted with candidates who are more relaxed throughout the process. Try to treat the meeting as more of a conversation and less of an interview. Because managers look for candidates who have a passion for learning, it’s important to make sure that aspect shines through during your conversations. In an interview you’ll be able to show that you’re focused on continual improvement as a developer.
It also wouldn’t hurt to have extra items available during your interview such as a portfolio or a specific project you’ve worked on. These items can help the interviewer gain a better understanding of your knowledge and skills.
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I have to say that one of the shortcomings of a hardcore software developer is the ability to work with a team. But I guess some who have acquired the skill through college can do it. But the real talented ones usually work alone.
I guess in some cases, it might be a matter of looking at and appreciating how certain developers work.
I have yet to encounter a software developer who could estimate the time a project would take to complete and consistently deliver on that timeline. I’d pay good money for that skill.
There is nothing about writing software that lends itself to accurate estimation. Just doing it in a prototyping/agile manner and being willing to ruthlessly cut features for a release is the most efficient way to create software.
Anyone who tells you they can estimate software consistently and accurately should be selling bridges.