My Bachelors degree in Information Technology from India helped me understand the basics of computers and programming languages. I gained solid technical and problem solving skills.
As I began to appreciate the nuances of complex web based applications, I decided to further strengthen my knowledge of fundamental Object Oriented Programming concepts. I choose pursue my Masters in Software Engineering field where I can continue to develop my technical skills.
My Masters program has exposed me to real world projects in various technologies. It has made me understand to use the projects as experimental studies by transforming the theoretical knowledge acquired in the course work to build real life projects.
In addition to developing deep technical and aptitude skills, spending almost six years studying and understanding computers and programming languages, I decided to pursue my career in Software field.
For this purpose I decided to talk to a software person who is well experienced in this domain.
Following are the details of the interviewee.
Interviewee Name – Mr. Ara Gopal
Title/Designation – Senior Software Engineer
Place of Employment – Cognizant Technology Solutions.
Place of Interview – Starbucks, Sunnyvale, CA
INTERVIEW – TRANSCRIPTIVE REPORT
Question – Mr. Gopal, Why did you choose to become a Software Engineer?
Interviewee -I am really not sure why I made this decision. I am not able to recollect. I have always loved computers. I wanted to know everything about them. Probably that is what motivated me to explore this field. Also, I attended some career counselling classes and based on my interests and the inputs given by experts, I decided to study computers.
My Master’s program in Computer Engineering helped me understand the intricacies of computers and the in-depth knowledge of many programming languages. Developing hands on projects as a part of my coursework gave me the confidence that I was lacking. Now I see Software Engineering as a rewarding career and I am very happy I made this decision.
2. Question – What can I expect to do as a Software Engineer and why should I choose this profession?
Interviewee – Answer these Questions for me.
Do you like computers? Answer -YES
Do you like programming? Answer -YES
Do you like to do a challenging job? Answer -YES
Do you like spending a whole day in front of a computer? Answer -YES
You answered YES! for the above questions. Software Engineering is the field for you.
It’s a job for programmers who strive to understand real world problems or customer requirements and work to fix the problems by writing programs, fixing bugs, deploying and publishing the written code. They “think outside of the box” to find solution to the real world problem.
If you choose this profession, you will face lot of challenges and logical difficulties. There will be a steep learning curve involved in each and every stage. You will get used to this after working on a project or two and then you will enjoy programming.
Question – Can you help me understand some advantages becoming a Software Engineer?
Interviewee – There are a lot of advantages. Here is some that I could think of now:
Software Engineers make good money. Choosing a career in any Engineering job will fetch you good money. Software Engineers are one of them.
Continuous Learning – You can expose yourself to various new technologies by choosing different projects based on your interests.
You can have the opportunity to work onsite (at the client’s location) for period of time. Every Software Engineer will await this opportunity as this gives them a new experience.
You can explore new places, meet new people, and understand the work culture of people across the globe. I do not see this kind of opportunity and exposure in any other profession.
Question – Will I be given training on all the domains that I work?
Interviewee – Initially Yes! – If you join a company as a “New College Graduate”, you will be given training on the software, programming language and the domain in which you will be working.
If you join a company as an experienced engineer, training will be very little. You will be expected to know certain things and understand the functionality and applications based on your experience.
One main point to remember is – Start by choosing a career based on your interest. Find out which programming language you like most. Learn the concepts thoroughly and seek a job in that field. Once you work on a project or two you will understand how the industry functions. You can then try and explore new technologies by choosing challenging projects. If you try to learn the basics of every programming language then it will be completely useless.
Question – What programming languages should I focus on?
Interviewee – That totally depends on your interests. As a part of your Master’s you will be exposed to different languages and learn new methodologies. Find out which language interests you and pursue a career in that.
I have been working on Java/J2EE for 6 years now. I choose this based on my interest in the language. I still like to write programs in Java/J2EE and I face a lot of challenges as a part of my work.
Question – After working as a Software Developer for a couple of years, can I change jobs?
Interviewee – People with several years of experience as Software Engineers face a lot of competition when trying to switch careers. Right after college, I had several interviews and had various job offers. Now, if I look for a job, I’m expected to have more experience and knowledge in certain technologies which I have not been working on for the past few years.
Finding new jobs in the same field (Technology and Programming Language) should not be difficult. But if you choose to pursue a career in an entirely different engineering discipline after working as a Software Engineer for a couple of years, it is going to be difficult.
Question – What are my opportunities of advancement/growth in the company?
Interviewee – Being proactive, delivering outstanding work, maintaining healthy relationships with co-workers, using proper language for communication, etc are some key areas of recognition.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and good relationships will give you recognition and will open doors to new opportunities.
Oral/ Written Communication
Question – How much important are oral and written communications?
Interviewee – Communication is not just the way you communicate with co-workers or higher officials. You have to focus on different things like body gestures, facial expressions, the language used, the tone in your voice, etc. It is impossible to climb up the corporate ladder without good communication skills.
Ensure that disagreements and arguments are communicated in a proper way. Make sure you do not insult others with your language. Practising good communication skills will help you in maintaining good relationships.
Question – What kind of writing and how much writing is required on the job?
Interviewee – It depends on the type of work you are assigned. Expect to do some technical writing in each phase of the project.
Some areas where you can expect to write reports are:
Quality Assurance activities – It will require you to log errors, explain the cause and the details and maintain a document of each of them.
Project planning phase -Explain the technical architecture and the various phases of the project
Business Analyst – Analyse the business requirements and document it
Testing phase – Document code bugs and explain how it was fixed.
Question – What if I am not able to learn the new environment/software and deliver my module in the specified time?
Interviewee – This happens to even experienced professionals. Talk to your Project Manager and seek help from colleagues in advance. Try to learn the technology involved in the module ahead of time. Get some training (if not offered by the company, take courses from a college or a training institute). Internet will be of great help.
The main point is, do not wait till the last minute to communicate the problem to your manager. Talk to him well ahead of time and save yourself from embarrassment.
Question – Will I have to work Overtime?
Interviewee – This may sound good or bad – But every Software Engineer will have to work overtime at some point of time, sometimes even without extra pay. When the project you are working on moves closer to deadline, there might be more work involved and programmers will have to spend more time on it to meet the targets. There are some disadvantages but still I feel the advantages overweigh them.
This conversation with Mr. Gopal was very informative as he helped me understand the functioning of the Software Industry and how projects are implemented. He explained how the organization works, the key areas where I should be focus to improve my career. He helped me realise the importance of communication with higher officials and co workers. He quoted on how doing smart work and being proactive will open doors to new opportunities. I also had a chance to understand the benefits of becoming a software developer.
I wish to develop my skill set based on the comments given by Mr. Gopal. I am confident that in addition to my technical aptitude, adaptability and ability to learn quickly, the pointers mentioned by Mr. Gopal will help me improve my personality and make me a valuable addition to the team I will be working on in the Software Company.
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