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For this career, by 66 people, from 10 (best) to 1 (worst).

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Inside Software Engineer Careers

Things you need to know, but nobody tells you

 

Biggest Surprises


"Frequent Interaction With Non-Engineers...
Even though I am a software engineer, I interact very regularly with people in other functional roles within the company. I think many people have the impression that software engineers alienate themselves and only hang out with other engineers, which has not been true for me." (Software Engineer; 2013)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in Virginia, female
School: Studied Computer Science at Cornell University in New York; completed Master degree in 2012


"The Freedoms Of A Software Engineer...
It's not like other jobs. We can work when we want, create our own hours and typically are autonomous. Perks include great pay, good benefits, and often times events with food / beer." (Software Engineer; 2014)

Career: 3 years of experience, currently based in California, male
School: Studied Computer Science at UC Berkeley in California; completed Bachelor degree in 2011


"Business Savvy Just As Important As Technical Skill...
I was surprised that you can benefit from having great business skills as a software engineer. A lot of people don't emphasize things like cost-benefit analyses, negotiation, etc., but those are extremely helpful skills as a software engineer. You don't spend ALL day behind a computer!" (Software Engineer; 2013)

Career: 10 years of experience, currently based in California, male
School: Studied Computer Science at Stanford University in California; completed Bachelor degree in 2007


"Diversity Of Fields Makes Software Engineering A Reliable Job Choice In Down Economic Periods...
I was surprised at the diversity of industries that require talented software developers. I have worked in industries ranging from healthcare IT to construction to energy trading. The ability to cross industries based on performance during boom and bust market cycles makes software development a career choice that is always in demand." (Software Engineer; 2013)

Career: 8 years of experience, currently based in Florida, male
School: Studied Computer Engineering at University Of Florida in Florida; completed Bachelor degree in 2004


"A Job That Requires A Lot Of Work...
I was surprised when I figured out that my profession requires a tremendous amount of mental work for too many hours a day. This is tiring and leads to big headaches. It is not only about software development, but also about testing. Software engineering requires a lot of testing before wrapping a final product. Testing might require as much time as that of development." (Software Engineer And Researcher (Natural Language Processing); 2013)

Career: 7 years of experience, currently based in New York, male
School: Studied Computer Engineering at School Of Engineering And Applied Sciences, Columbia University in New York; completed Master degree in 2006


"Communication More Important Than Programming Skills...
Working as a software engineer in the healthcare industry, I was surprised by the large amount of bad software engineers. The good engineers might have been poached by the big tech companies. There are a lot of politics involved, and often it's how well you communicate, rather than how much you know that'll get you the job, or the next promotion." (Software Engineer; 2014)

Career: 7 years of experience, currently based in California, male
School: Studied Computer Engineering at California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo in California; completed Bachelor degree in 2005


"Confusion In Software Development...
I'm surprised at how little gets done at my job. I expected most Software Developers to be well organized and streamlined, but there's a lot of wasted time." (Software Developer; 2014)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in Arizona, male
School: Studied Computer Science at University Of Arizona in Arizona; completed Bachelor degree in 2012


"I was surprised to see how important computers were becoming in today's society. As soon as I entered the job market, I landed a great job within a week." (Software Engineer; 2013)

Career: 5 years of experience, currently based in California, male
School: Studied Computer Science And Engineering at UCLA in California; completed Master degree in 2008


"Communication Skills And Cross-Relational Collaboration Are Key...
I was surprised by how much communication is involved in the work. You really need to talk to people in other related areas such as hardware developers and electrical engineers in order to properly create things." (Software Developer; 2013)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in New York, male
School: Studied Computer Science at Cornell University in New York; completed Bachelor degree in 2011


"I was surprised that I needed to communicate very well with others. In college we were not trained very much on working in groups so it was a tough transition." (Software Engineer; 2013)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in Arizona, male
School: Studied Computer Science at Northern Arizona University in Arizona; completed Bachelor degree in 2011


"Business Skills Are Most Important Than IT Skills...
I was surprise to find that being a software engineer requires excellent logical power. as well as problem solving skills. It is very desirable to have knowledge of up to date latest technologies and I have to update my technological languages. I have to collaborate with other member of the team. One most important thing is that you have to do something that your manager get in touch with you to get good hike. When I was in collage I thought working in software development meant completely independent. But I was wrong. I thought I can achieve ll the things with my knowledge with related skills. But Fact is far most away from my thought." (Software Developer; 2013)

Career: 7 years of experience, currently based in Pennsylvania, male
School: Studied Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania in 2005


"Maximal Productivity And Worker Friendliness...
The can do attitude and the relaxed environment in which the best productivity is yielded was very surprising. Everybody worked together and there was a group think mentality with the lack of distinct compartmentalization when it came to projects." (Software Engineer; 2013)

Career: 1 years of experience, male
School: Studied Computer Engineering at The University Of Florida in Florida; completed Master degree in 2012


"Working With Wide Array Of People Not Expected...
As a software engineer I was used to kind of working on my own. When I entered the company I am currently with, I was extremely surprised with the amount of people I would have to interact with. As my company's main IT guy, I always have to deal with people that aren't as technologically advanced as me, and sometimes it can be surprisingly frustrating." (Software Engineer; 2013)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in Oklahoma, male
School: Studied Electrical Engineering at University Of Central Oklahoma in Oklahoma; completed Bachelor degree in 2011


"Work Environments Are Numerous...
I think others would be surprised with just how diverse software engineering is. You can work in almost any field that you choose, from automotive, manufacturing, mobile app development, anything. There's a surprising amount of time researching and coordinating with groups as well. It's not all code all of the time like a lot of people think." (Software Engineer; 2013)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in North Carolina, male
School: Studied Computer Science at Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania; completed Bachelor degree in 2012


"Since I started out as a developer and still work closely with software developers, it was surprising at how much a developer should know about the business that the software is for. Not only needs the Business Analyst have a good understanding of the business and the business processes, the developer itself needs to understand what the implications of the small decisions are and what the effect means to the final end user. For this a good understanding of the business and the business processes is important." (Configuration Manager; 2013)

Career: 12 years of experience, currently based in Wisconsin, male
School: Studied Computer Information Systems at University Of Wisconsin - Stevens Point in Wisconsin; completed Bachelor degree in 2000


"I was surprised that some companies almost expect you to work long hours such as 50-60 hours and think it is normal just to get the job done. They just want the end product and will push hard to have it on a certain date without considering the problems or bugs as a result." (Web Software Engineer; 2013)

Career: 8 years of experience, currently based in Tennessee, male
School: Studied Computer Science at University Of Memphis in Tennessee; completed Master degree in 2008


"Easy To Get A Job...
How many jobs there would be in my field. I found a job within a month of graduating. I regularly see jobs posted that I am qualified for." (Software Engineer; 2013)

Career: 5 years of experience, currently based in Colorado, male
School: Studied Electronic Engineering at Colorado State University in Colorado; completed Bachelor degree in 2007


"Poor Quality Software Is Tolerated And Accepted...
I am surprised that with the ubiquity of the Internet, there has been no more (or in fact less) emphasis on accurate, robust software. It seems that people are more than willing to accept (and pay for!) software that is shoddy, buggy, or otherwise of poor quality. It's like people expect and tolerate crappy software, when most will not tolerate dysfunctional hardware (e.g. appliances, autos, houses, etc)." (Programmer/Analyst; 2013)

Career: 30 years of experience, currently based in California
School: Studied Criminal Justice at Loyola University in Louisiana; completed Bachelor degree in 1976


"Low Quality Documentation...
I was surprised at the lack of grammar and proper ways of expressing oneself that software developers often have. The code I work on is misspelled often and comments can be hard to read or barely even there." (Software Engineer; 2013)

Career: 4 years of experience, currently based in New York, male
School: Studied Computer Science at Stony Brook University in New York; completed Bachelor degree in 2009


"Programming Requires Teamwork...
I was surprised how much teamwork outside of my developer teammates was required. I work with many non technical people everyday, from people that help design user interfaces to people that analyze the business requirements of what I am doing." (Software Engineer; 2013)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in Minnesota, male
School: Studied Computer Science at University Of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in Wisconsin; completed Bachelor degree in 2012


"Technology Changes Quickly...
I believe that anyone interested in this career path might find it surprising to know that the job requires you to constantly keep yourself up to date with the latest technologies. School is great to learn the basics, but you will not be successful if you can not continue your education on your free time." (Software Engineer; 2014)

Career: 11 years of experience, currently based in New Jersey, male
School: Studied Computer Science, Specializing In Software Engineering at University Of Phoenix in Arizona; completed Associate degree in 2008


"Interwoven Industry...
What surprised me was the interconnectivity of the departments at the company I work for. I believed I would be very segregated from individuals in the sales department as a software engineer, but I have to work with them to make sure that our sales products are implemented and represented appropriately." (Engineer; 2013)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in California, female
School: Studied Engineering at USC in California; completed Bachelor degree in 2009


"Skewed Somewhat Toward Geeky All-Male Clubs...
The number of women in this field is disproportionately low. The culture can be skewed toward "geek"-iness (e.g. Sci-Fi fan clubs etc.), which is not necessarily what some people in this industry are passionate about." (Software Engineer; 2013)

Career: 10 years of experience, currently based in Texas, male
School: Studied Computer Science In Real Time Interactive Simulation at DigiPen Institute Of Technology in Washington; completed Bachelor degree in 2004


"Irrelevance Of Education...
I was surprised to find how much my college education was irrelevant to my job. When I started working for my current employer they told me everything that was expected from me and most of which I taught myself." (Software Engineer; 2013)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in Oregon, male
School: Studied Computer Science at New York University in New York; completed Bachelor degree in 2011


"It's Not All About The Coding...
The most surprising thing about my career is the amount of time spent not writing actual code. We are focused more on planning and different implementation strategies that will allow us to utilize our time more effectively. I am also surprised that my job does not consist of looking at a computer 10 hours a day and I actually get to work with other team members in various formats." (Software Engineer; 2013)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in Washington, male
School: Studied Computer Science at Seattle University in Washington; completed Bachelor degree in 2011


"Very Difficult Startup...
I was surprised by the amount of work and overtime. The amount of fast learning and work was overwhelming at the start." (Software Developer; 2013)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in Texas, male
School: Studied Software Development at Cedar Valley in Texas; completed Associate degree in 2012


"Lack Of Females In The Workforce...
The lack of other females in this field surprises me. With such high pay and job satisfaction, not to mention the outreach programs that my school had for women, it is surprising and disappointing that other females do not pursue this type of career." (Software Engineer; 2013)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in Missouri, female
School: Studied Computer Science at University Of Missouri Kansas City in Missouri; completed Bachelor degree in 2012


"Education Helped Me Fit In Easily...
I was surprised at how easy it was to fit into the group I was assigned. I was able to pick up the new software I was coding in and begin to make an impact fairly quickly." (Software Engineer; 2013)

Career: 10 years of experience, currently based in Texas, male
School: Studied Computer Science at University Of Oklahoma in Oklahoma; completed Bachelor degree in 2002


"Team Members...
I was very happily surprised to meet other people like myself who wanted to socialize outside of work. I thought I'd be in a little cubicle all day, typing my fingers into nubs with no interaction. I have a great team to work with who I've become close to." (Software Developer; 2013)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in New York, female
School: Studied Computer Science/Applied Math at CUNY Queens College in New York; completed Bachelor degree in 2012


"Communication And Teamwork Are Key...
I was surprised at how much interaction you need to perform with co-workers. I had envisioned a job where I would sit in a dark corner and just code all day but that cannot be the case. It takes a lot of teamwork to provide quality software." (Senior Software Engineer; 2013)

Career: 18 years of experience, currently based in Iowa, male
School: Studied Computer Science at University Of Dubuque in Iowa; completed Bachelor degree in 1996


"Communication And Assertiveness Are Important...
I have been very surprised to find out how well communication and assertiveness can improve one's career. Using these skills can quickly get you up the ladder and put into a leadership position. Along with these skills, it is very necessary to have a strong foundation in basic OOP principles and general programming theory. Combining these two areas will no doubt get you into a position where you can make a difference." (Senior Software Engineer; 2013)

Career: 6 years of experience, currently based in Pennsylvania, male
School: Studied Information Sciences And Technology at Penn State University in Pennsylvania; completed Bachelor degree in 2010


"I was surprised that I needed to know multiple languages due to all the different clients I have that do not speak English." (Software Developer; 2013)

Career: 3 years of experience, currently based in Massachusetts, male
School: Studied Computer Engineering at MIT in Massachusetts; completed Master degree in 2012


"I'm surprised by just how simple and fun my work can be. I was expecting it to be incredibly boring and dull after a while but, so far, that hasn't been the case." (Software Engineer; 2013)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in Texas, male
School: Studied Computer Science at University Of Utah in Utah; completed Bachelor degree in 2012


"More Documentation Than Expected...
I am surprised that lot of documentation is involved in addition to coding. In college I thought coding is more sufficient at work." (Software Engineer; 2013)

Career: 3 years of experience, currently based in Washington, female
School: Studied Computer Science at UC Santa Barbara in California; completed Master degree in 2007


"Same Thing, Different Day...
The amount of repetitive work and how boring it can be. Simple designer tasks can get old, quick." (Content Designer; 2014)

Career: 10 years of experience, currently based in Michigan, male
School: Studied Telecommunications at Michigan State in Massachusetts; completed Bachelor degree in 2002


"Autonomy With Projects...
I was surprised by how much autonomy we have in working on projects. I thought some manager would be constantly breathing down our necks the whole time." (Software Engineer; 2014)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in Oregon, male
School: Studied Computer Science at Oregon State University in Oregon; completed Bachelor degree in 2012


"Concentration And Being Alert Is The Must To Design A Software...
I was surprised to find that being a software engineer requires a real concentration on what I am doing. As a SE, I have to be alert on every piece of code I write because a simple mistype can lead to lots of problems while creating a software. When I was in college, software engineering is so cool, that I get to design games and stuffs but it's not as easy as it sounds." (Software Engineer; 2013)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in Louisiana, male
School: Studied Software at Lake Charles University Of Computer Science in Louisiana; completed Bachelor degree in 2011


"Outsourcing Is Rampant In Software Development...
I have been surprised at how much outsourcing is used by U.S. companies, especially fortune 500, when it comes to developing software. Over 50 percent of the work done at my company comes from people located in other countries like India and Philippines." (Software Engineer; 2014)

Career: 7 years of experience, currently based in Illinois, male
School: Studied Computer Science at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville in Illinois; completed Bachelor degree in 2006


"People graduating with a degree in Computer Science may be surprised at how little programming a software engineer actually does in a large company. You spend a good deal of time reviewing the requirements for the software you will write. You will probably attend code reviews. You will be doing all this with a team of software engineers with whom you will spend a great deal of time creating the design for the software to be written. The software that you do write may be part of a very large system and you will be responsible for making sure your piece fits into it." (Software Developer; 2013)

Career: 30 years of experience, currently based in New Jersey, male
School: Studied Computer Science at Rutgers University in New Jersey; completed Bachelor degree in 1976


"Language Skills Just As Useful As Programming...
I was surprised that I could actually use my skills in foreign language to my advantage as a software engineer. I freelance for a German-based company and receive orders from them in German!" (Software Engineer; 2013)

Career: 3 years of experience, currently based in Tennessee, male
School: Studied German Literature at The Ohio State University in Ohio; completed Master degree in 2010


"Finding A Job In Some Areas Of The Country...
I was surprised to find how difficult it is to find a job in my area. Very few businesses in my area need software engineers, and so it was hard to find work. The jobs that are available don't pay very well either, since there are plenty of candidates to choice from." (Software Engineer; 2013)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in Missouri, male
School: Studied Math And Computer Science at Missouri State University in Missouri; completed Bachelor degree in 2012


"Turnover Rate...
I was surprised at how often people change jobs/companies. There is a high turn-over in the computer programming field." (Software Engineer; 2013)

Career: 23 years of experience, currently based in Georgia, male
School: Studied Software Engineering at Georgia Institute Of Technology in Georgia; completed Master degree in 1990


"The field I chose ended up being nothing like what I expected, and I am currently looking to adjust my career. I figured it would be all working on computers designing software/etc, but it ended having quite a bit more physical work requirements (planning, creating design ideas and testing them, etc) than just sitting at my computer." (Software Engineer; 2013)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in California, male
School: Studied Computer Drafting And Design at ITT Tech in California; completed Bachelor degree in 2012


"Your Skills And Aptitude Matter More Than Your Specific Degree...
I was surprised that it's not all about your technical competency in the IT field and it's a lot about working as a team and being a amiable person. I was also surprised that your undergraduate degree doesn't always matter in the IT field. I've worked with many developers that were Chemistry or Electrical Engineering majors." (Software Developer; 2013)

Career: 12 years of experience, currently based in Arizona, male
School: Studied Computer Science at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania; completed Bachelor degree in 2002


"Figuring Out What To Build Is More Important Than Building...
I was surprised on how much of my work is not coding. Interacting with the team and the customer to figure out what needs to be built is much more important than doing the building." (Software Developer; 2013)

Career: 5 years of experience, currently based in Illinois, male
School: Studied CS at UIC in Illinois; completed Bachelor degree in 2008


"Tech Writing Goes Beyond Code Documentation...
I was surprised at how much writing of technical documents was involved in my profession. I knew there was technical writing relating to code comments, but I am also asked to provide API specifications and written reports. I was also surprised how much interaction I have had with customers." (Software Engineer; 2013)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in New Jersey, male
School: Studied Computer Science at University Of Delaware in Delaware; completed Bachelor degree in 2011


"I was surprised most that my job actually had a lot of customer service aspects to it. I was thinking I would be working on computers all day, but in fact I interact with customers everyday." (Systems Engineer; 2013)

Career: 4 years of experience, currently based in Nebraska, male
School: Studied Computer Science at University Of Nebraska At Omaha in Nebraska; completed Master degree in 2010


"I was surprised to find that this field requires substantially more interpersonal skills than I initially thought. The ability to work well within a team environment is at least as important as software development ability." (Software Engineering; 2013)

Career: 13 years of experience, currently based in California, male
School: Studied Computer Science at Columbia University in New York; completed Bachelor degree in 1999


"A Focus On The Basics...
I am surprised to find that the more complex areas of my education are rarely used, and it is the more basic fundamentals that are most often utilized. Complicated problems sometimes arise but on a day to day basis it is primarily quick and relatively simple." (Tech Coordinator; 2012)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in Maine, male
School: Studied Computer Science at Syracuse University in New York; completed Bachelor degree in 2008


"Moe Social Than I Thought...
I always assumed programmers were rather solitary workers. I was surprised by the amount of interaction at the workplace in this line of work." (Software Engineer; 2012)

Career: 3 years of experience, currently based in Maine, male
School: Studied Computer Science at University Of Maine in Maine; completed Bachelor degree in 2008


"Degree Not Necessary...
Although a degree in any flavor of IT will help you break into the field and get a job, it is not necessary. Many employers are more interested in certifications i.e. security +, network +, CCNA, CISSP, MCITP, etc. Often times individuals with these certifications and no degree are valued equally or above a college graduate with no certs." (Network Engineer; 2012)

Career: 7 years of experience, currently based in Ohio, male
School: Studied Information Technology at North Dakota State University in North Dakota; completed Bachelor degree in 2004


"Teaming For Success...
I am surprised how far communication with coworkers will get you when dealing with computers. The general public generally sees programmers as people who sit in their cubes by themselves all day, but that is not the case at all. A team atmosphere is necessary for a productive software developer company." (Software Engineer; 2012)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in North Carolina, male
School: Studied Computer Science at University Of North Carolina At Greensboro in North Carolina; completed Bachelor degree in 2012


"Must Be Able To Work With Others...
I have been surprised how the level of interpersonal skills have grown in my industry over the past 10-15 years. Software engineers used to be able to hide themselves in a cave and work hard almost alone. Now high levels of daily collaboration, this has been advantages to me as I am a lot more outgoing then my typical co-worker." (Software Engineer; 2012)

Career: 11 years of experience, currently based in Colorado, male
School: Studied Software Engineering at CU Denver in Colorado; completed Master degree in 2010


"Hard To Advance But Salary Is High...
I was able to start my career while I was still in college. There is not as much upward mobility as I thought. I get paid much more than I expected." (Software Engineer; 2012)

Career: 20 years of experience, currently based in Florida, male
School: Studied Computer Science at Western Washington University in Washington; completed Bachelor degree in 1996


"Staying On Top Of The Game...
I was really surprised at how I had to constantly study, research and keep myself up-to-date in this field. Computer Science is constantly evolving with new versions, products, upgrades, new technology etc. If I don't stay on top of my game, I will be outdated in no time at all. So, I have to really make the effort to keep all my certifications in order and stay current. It is very challenging but it is also lot of fun." (Senior Software Engineer; 2012)

Career: 10 years of experience, currently based in Michigan, female
School: Studied Computer Science at University Of Michigan - Dearborn in Michigan; completed Master degree in 2002


"More Creative Than I Thought...
I was surprised at the creative aspect of being a programmer. It's not always so "cut and dry." You have to use your imagination a bit to take pieces of the multitude of code libraries and make them work for your needs. You can get very creative with aspects of "iteration" to write efficient code. I'm also surprised at the lack of code commenting. It drastically helps projects and all those involved to "comment" your code thoroughly. Another surprising aspect of coding is that you become involved in online coding communities and share your knowledge. This involvement very much helps in not getting stuck in "reinventing the wheel."" (Software Developer; 2012)

Career: 13 years of experience, currently based in Missouri, male
School: Studied Computer Information Technology at Ozarks Technical Community College in Missouri; completed Associate degree in 2003


"Requires Higher Level Thinking Than Just Programming...
I was surprised how important problem solving skills are in a software engineering job. Its not just programming, it's attacking the problem in the smartest way! I was surprised about how quickly you can grow in this field, specially if you put your point of view on topics clearly out, and its okay to disagree with more senior employees/manager. Let the code speak for you!" (Software Engineer; 2012)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in California, male
School: Studied Computer Science at Stanford in California; completed Master degree in 2011


"I was surprised to find out how many different areas I would be a part of as a software engineer. As a software engineer/web developer, I need to be able to handle complex algorithms, server side technologies, and even graphical user interfaces." (Software Engineer; 2012)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in Maryland, male
School: Studied Computer Science at University Of West Florida in Florida; completed Bachelor degree in 2010


"I was surprised just how little what you learn in school matters once you get into the field. What matters more than the specific techniques is learning how to learn, meaning how to learn a new language or technique fast. I was also surprised just how boring it is. When you're in school you get a lot more opportunities to work on your own projects. In the field, not so much." (Software Engineering; 2012)

Career: 4 years of experience, currently based in Washington, male
School: Studied Software Engineering Technology at Oregon Institute Of Technology in Oregon; completed Bachelor degree in 2008


"I was surprised that most of the classes I took in college weren't relevant, although the skills I learned (how to learn a programming language on my own, etc) were. For my job, knowing different programming languages is far more important than the theoretical knowledge I was tested on." (Software Engineer; 2012)

Career: 4 years of experience, currently based in Massachusetts, female
School: Studied Computer Science at MIT in Massachusetts; completed Bachelor degree in 2009


"I was surprised with simultaneously how much attention is paid to quality of code and how little effort goes into formally testing it. Code is obviously expected to work well, but there aren't always things in place to enforce that." (Software Engineer; 2012)

Career: 3 years of experience, currently based in Minnesota, male
School: Studied Computer Engineering at Iowa State University in Iowa; completed Bachelor degree in 2010


"I was surprised with the lack of creative freedom software engineers are given. My classes had given me the perception that software engineers needed to be open-minded and creative." (Software Engineer; 2012)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in California, male
School: Studied Computer Science at UC Berkeley in California; completed Bachelor degree in 2010


"The main thing that I was surprised with was how outgoing everybody was in my profession. I didn't think a lot of people would have good interpersonal communication skills, because this field is known for having a lot of introverts. I went in with this expectation, but it quickly changed as I found out you need good communication skills with your co-workers and customers." (Software Engineer; 2012)

Career: 1 years of experience, currently based in Oregon, male
School: Studied Information Technology at Western Governor's University in Utah; completed Bachelor degree in 2012


"The fact that very little I learned and practiced had immediate relevance to real world work. Software engineering is a continuous learning process and college/university only provides the basic foundation on which to build. Being able to write a 1000 line program does not mean one can automatically maintain several million lines of code." (Software Engineer; 2012)

Career: 23 years of experience, currently based in California, male
School: Studied Software Engineering at Federal Institute Of Technology Zurich; completed Master degree in 1992


"What I am surprised is that the industry of IT is not an industry for only 'geeks'. In order to be successful, one needs well rounded quality in -- marketing, presentation, writing, negotiation and sometimes financial background to have a very successful career. When I am working on my job, I constantly facing the challenging to convince the task to be done in the right way, and I have to sell that idea, justify them with data, and document / communicate the specification in written form or orally. All of these, requires something outside of my immediate major." (IT Engineer; 2012)

Career: 7 years of experience, currently based in Maryland, female
School: Studied Computer Engineering at University Of Michigan in Michigan; completed Bachelor degree in 2005

Best & Worst Things About This Career


Software Consultant: "Working in software development can be a lonely experience for many, but as a consultant, I get to work closely with the client, conducting meetings to gather requirements and to train them. While my work is primarily independent, I get this additional benefit of working with others. On the other hand, working with a client can be frustrating if they become belligerent or difficult. You have to learn to keep your cool and to think on your feet. But it's the kind of experience that you can apply to any situation, even in your personal life." (2011)


Computer Consultant: "Because I am self-employed, I don't always have a steady income. I can charge more per hour than an employee would make, but I have to pay for my own health insurance, social security, and vacations. So freelancing is not for the faint-of-heart. On the other hand, I work when and where I want to. This allowed me to attend a lot of our daughter's daytime school activities as she was growing up. I also get a lot of job satisfaction, seeing products I helped design go into the marketplace and sometimes win awards. I have been granted seven US patents and have several more pending." (2011)

Career Background


Software Engineer

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Career Tips


"Consulting Companies Are The Gateway For New Developers...
To find success in software development, you should start at a large consulting company. This provides to you the access needed to work at many of the fortune 500 companies. In addition, it will give you the opportunity to find your niche in software development by experiencing first-hand a wide array of technologies." (Software Engineer; 2014)


"Practice Your Networking...
I know it's awful, but it really does usually depend on who you know over what you know. Make sure you're up to date on your coding skills for interview questions, but beyond that, do your social networking." (Software Developer; 2014)


"Relate Interview Questions With Why You Fit The Job...
For interviews, you should try and answer their real question. If they ask you, "Tell me about yourself?", don't just tell them about yourself. Tell them why your software engineering skills can do the job, that's the real question they are seeking." (Software Engineer; 2014)


"Interest Will Make You Better...
If you want to be a successful software engineer, then you need to be passionate about the work. I don't recommend selecting this career path just because it has a higher salary range." (Software Engineer; 2014)


"Do Internships While In School...
If you want to be able to get a decent job right out of college, start early and do some internships while you're still in college. That way you will already have valuable experience when you finish your degree, and you could even make some money doing it." (Software Engineer; 2014)


"The Project Is Your Foot In The Door...
Start on projects in school. They'll take you further than anything in terms of resumes and interviews." (Software Engineer; 2014)


"Do What Makes You Happy...
Make sure the field you are studying is really what you want out of life. If money wasn't an object, would you still be doing this?" (Content Designer; 2014)


"Focus On Your Education...
Stay focused. Too many of my peers quit in the middle of their degrees because they slacked off and couldn't maintain good grades." (Software Engineer; 2013)


"Broaden Horizons...
Broaden your horizons. Learn languages on the computer and in the real world." (Software Engineer; 2013)


"Giving Your Best Will Lead To The Best...
The best advice I can give is to give your best effort throughout ALL of your classes. This includes non-major core classes. It is through these classes that you learn to become a better and more intelligent individual and push yourself to become more than a generic computer science graduate or IT person." (Software Engineer; 2013)


"Inclusive Group Learning...
Try to become hands on and familiar with your industry. Meet others interested in similar fields and areas. The best way to learn is in a group while bouncing ideas off each other and sharing your mistakes." (Engineer; 2013)


"Go Into Software Engineering If You Enjoy Computers...
If you enjoy computers and are logical person software engineering is a well fulfilling field." (Software Engineer; 2013)


"Use Online Resources To Learn Programming...
It is very easy to find resources online to teach yourself how to program. Use your spare time to teach yourself widely-used programming languages like Java and Python. If you do, you will have a solid foundation on which to learn other programming languages and will be well-prepared to take computer science courses in high school or college." (Software Engineer; 2013)


"All Requirements Aren't Already Specified At Work...
Don't just work on homework assignments. In the real world, you won't be handed full specifications. Work on your own projects and gather your own requirements." (Software Developer; 2013)


"Be Very Specific...
Be as specific as possible when giving examples of work experience and personal projects undertaken." (Software Engineer; 2013)


"Find A Mentor For Technical And Social Interactions...
Always be willing to listen to the advice that more experienced people when you start a new job. They can help you not only from a technical standpoint but from a social stand point as well." (Software Engineer; 2013)


"Stay Sharp As A Programmer By Keeping Busy...
Keep yourself sharp, technically speaking. It's easy to just do the work required in your courses, but developing software outside of coursework is what makes a good programmer. Join an open-source project or make your own programs for fun (and profit!)." (Software Engineer; 2013)


"Network And Diversify...
Make sure to diversify your computer language knowledge. You also need to network to people across many companies as well." (Software Developer; 2013)


"Find What You Love And Make That Your Career...
Be sure what you are doing is a good fit. If you feel what you are learning about is hard work and you would rather be doing something else then imagine what a lifetime of doing that is going to be like. Gravitate towards something that feels right and live a long, happy life doing what you love." (Senior Software Engineer; 2013)


"Determination And Hard Work - Your Friend While Studying Software Engineering...
As cool as it sounds to be a software engineer, it's as difficult as that. First make sure this is what you want to do. You need to be ready to sacrifice your night's sleep and day's hunger if you are deciding to join this field." (Software Engineer; 2013)


"Extroverts Tend To Advance More Quickly...
Although many students in computer related majors tend to be more introverted, training yourself to be an extrovert will benefit you more than you can ever imagine." (Senior Software Engineer; 2013)


"Step Outside Of Your Major For Maximum Benefit...
Yes, major in computer science or another engineering discipline, but don't shun your liberal arts and business classes. Taking things like accounting (on my own just for fun) while I was an undergrad ended up being super-helpful later on. I run my own business on the side and that stuff helped." (Software Engineer; 2013)


"Love Your Work Never Love Your Company...
You can make good living in It by having practical attitude and sharp business skills." (Software Developer; 2013)


"Software Engineer Should Be Updated With The Latest Technology...
When it comes to software engineering, a person should keep himself always updated with the latest technology. A person should be aware about the latest frameworks, programming languages and programming tools in order to use in his job for the maximum profit." (Software Engineer And Researcher (Natural Language Processing); 2013)


"Keep Taking Relevant Classes...
Take as many classes in your field as you can. Soak up all the knowledge you can because it can really help you build your resume and in the field." (Software Engineer; 2013)


"Always Keep Learning...
Be involved in the computing field. Read lots of news and read/contribute to open source projects." (Software Developer; 2013)


"Learn To Be An Extrovert...
It's easy for an IT person to be introverted and not interact much. Learn how to meet people and be friendly while you have the chance. When you have to work with a lot of people, it always makes your job easier to be personal with the people you work with." (Software Engineer; 2013)


"Getting To Know Your Workplace...
You should always get to know your coworkers and never be the lazy guy in the office. In order to succeed you have to go the extra mile." (Software Developer; 2013)


"Be Tenacious...
Learn to be a problem-solver. Be the kind of person who, once you start on a task, just won't quit until it's fixed, finished, complete, perfect. If you have that attitude, you'll be a success wherever you go." (Software Engineer; 2013)


"Find A Job You Love...
Get as many certifications as you can, read about different IT fields, and network. If you decide to change what you're working on, it will be a smooth process and the more people you know the better chances you have to find something you want to wake up to in the morning." (Software Developer; 2013)


"Internships Are Important...
Get an internship while in college, they are plentiful in IT and the experience will be invaluable. It will be much easier to start a career after college if you have some sort of experience." (Software Engineer; 2013)


"IT Requires Self-Starters...
The IT field is constantly changing. You would do well to learn how to learn on your own. This entails having some initiative, prioritizing, and being able to study semi-dense resources on your own. You would also do well to learn how to keep up to date. This might entail finding reputable, high-quality online blogs and periodicals." (Software Engineer; 2013)


"Keep Abreast Of Changes And Enhancements In Your Field...
Keep abreast of changes as best you can. Even long-established tools and methodologies will get updated, and if you don't update your skills to match, you will become less employable or less valued." (Programmer/Analyst; 2013)


"Love What You Do...
I would suggest that the student would focus much more on real world experience by building a portfolio of prior work done along with learning the latest cutting edge tools and languages as the environment shifts dynamically. Also I would suggest that they have a firm grasp and love for the field as without that dedication, the work is going to be brutal." (Software Engineer; 2013)


"Documentation Skills Important...
Learn coding and documentation (good communication is very necessary). Learn fundamentals like data structure and algorithms solidly." (Software Engineer; 2013)


"Learn Lots Of Languages...
Get a foundation in as many programming languages as possible. Study languages that are completely irrelevant today and understand why they're irrelevant. Look at some of the shortcomings of popular computer languages and always be on the forefront of what's to come." (Software Engineer; 2013)


"Keep A Paper Trail...
It's important to do your best and make sure that there is a written record of any objections you have. It can save you when higher ups are looking for a scapegoat." (Software Engineer; 2013)


"Keep Up With Changes...
A really good thing to do when you start your career is to never stop learning. Go to conferences and training and always read books. Technology changes yearly and you always want to stay ahead of it." (Web Software Engineer; 2013)


"Employers Want Specialists...
Make sure you have a focus in one specific area. Don't just be general about it, employers will want workers that specialize in one thing." (Software Developer; 2013)


"Mobile Apps For Better Pay...
I would say get into mobile application development, it can be very profitable and very fulfilling." (Software Engineer; 2013)


"Not Easy But Stick With It...
Study hard. Advanced computer techniques isn't an easy pick up, but keep at it and you'll succeed. Don't put anything off till the end." (Software Engineer; 2013)


"Don't Just Take Software Classes...
Be sure to take some fun classes too. They can help you keep your sanity when overwhelmed with all of the challenging math and computer classes you have." (Software Engineer; 2013)


"Consider Taking Business Courses...
While you are in school, it will be worth while taking some courses in business practices or some other subject area that will help you get in the door of a company. You could also do some research into what are the hot skills that companies are looking for and then enroll in relevant courses. Right now "Big Data" is growing very fast and statistics in one of the areas you have to know to work with "Big Data"." (Software Developer; 2013)


"Know Your Client's Business...
Try to understand how your client will use the software. Try to understand the clients business, his motivation for purchasing/ordering the software. The more you know about the end user and it's business the better you are off. Communication is key, even if you can't communicate directly with the end user/client." (Configuration Manager; 2013)


"Apply Your Imagination...
Only do this career if you are really interested in computer related work. Also, be ready to be imaginative with everything you do, as creativity is a must." (Software Engineer; 2013)


"Computer Science Or Engineering Majors Have An Edge...
I recommend getting either a Computer Science or Computer Engineering degree if you want to go into a technical field. Most people come in with degrees such as Information Science, so if you have the Computer Science/Engineering, you'll have an advantage. Your background will be stronger. I also recommend taking a course in writing, because you will have to document much of what you do. Clearly communicating your ideas will make your job less frustrating" (Software Consultant; 2011)


"Consider Combining Degrees...
My combination of degrees in two different fields (EE and CS) has been very useful for my career. Our daughter took my example and got degrees in two different fields also (a Bachelor's in Psychology and a Masters in Nutrition) and discovered the same thing. Studying two different (but related) fields will give you an edge up on others who have pursued one field. I also got a little work experience in between getting my BS and MS degrees, and found that it helped me focus a lot more in my graduate studies." (Computer Consultant; 2011)