Yay, it’s National Coding Week! Any excuse to celebrate tech excellence of some sort, is good with us. We thought we’d do our bit by shedding some light on what it’s really like to work inside the wonderful world of software development, in the hope of encouraging newcomers into the field.
No question about it, coding is a fascinating and rewarding career choice. As a software coder, you’ll be responsible for developing and maintaining the code that makes our digital world work. This can be anything from creating and managing websites, to developing mobile apps,and desktop software – or even working with artificial intelligence.
The benefits of coding are numerous. Firstly, it’s an in-demand skill; companies are always on the lookout for talented coders. Secondly, it’s a great way to make a living. Coders can earn a good salary, and the demand for those skills is only going to increase in the future.
Coding is also an enjoyable and stimulating activity. It’s mentally challenging, and it’s always satisfying to see what you’ve written come to life and do what you intended it to do. Plus, it’s a global activity; you can use it to create things that will be enjoyed by people all over the world.
So if you’re looking for an interesting and challenging career, coding might just be the thing for you. Here’s what some of the Oval team have got to say about working in software (web) development.
Simone (Project Manager)
From an early age, I was always intrigued by technology – I think it was mainly down to the challenges it presented and the endless possibilities. As one of the fastest-growing sectors, it offers multiple well-paid career paths and is one of the few industries where you will be provided with support and learning opportunities, even if you don’t have a degree. As a Project Manager, I am able to look after multiple clients who have numerous projects on the go, and there is never one day the same as the next, which fuels my excitement and sense of purpose about my role.
The industry is so diverse, in the sense that you don’t need to be a Software Developer to become successful; You can be anything from a Project Manager to a Business Analyst, a Technical Coordinator to a Solution Tester. Whether you’re happy to sit behind your computer alone and get the job done, or be more client-facing and involved in networking, there is always something for everyone in the world of IT.
Alex (Cloud Architect and Testing Analyst)
I’ve always had a personal interest in computers and technology, and wanted a change in career to something more stable and flexible. It’s a highly progressive industry that continuously evolves – there is always something new to learn! I think if you enjoy solving problems, and rising to new challenges, then it’s definitely an industry in which you can succeed.
Doug (Senior Developer)
If I think about my first dive into the software development pond, I was 12 yrs old (1977) and computers were like magical voodoo to most people at that time. I was fascinated by them, and spent a lot of time writing games and 3D simulations, plus later playing with machine code to build what must have been a very early drum machine. It grew from there, culminating in a degree, and became a viable career at a time when finding a job was not an easy task.
After 35 years, it appears we see fads come and go, platforms and frameworks develop then become passé. There’s always something new to learn, which makes it tricky sometimes, but usually interesting – partly in what the new ideas are, and which age-old issues they’re trying to solve. Examples: Agile PM vs. waterfall and source control vs. resource check in/out.
- If you get joy out of building things, then software development is a fair choice. What you ‘build’ might not involve physical nuts and bolts, but it’ll likely have to hold together like a well constructed machine.
- Vibrant employment market
- The joy of getting things working and seeing results
- The industry relies on good relationships with clients, and everyone wants it to work (a fact sometimes easily forgotten, but still it remains)
- Friends and family who discover that you write code will probably ask you to fix their printer 😁
Craig (Senior Developer)
There are many things I enjoy about being a coder. It’s really satisfying when you finish a project, and the client is happy with the solution. Also, I like solving problems, and that’s often what being a coder is all about.
Another cool thing about working in software development, is that you feel like you’re part of a club. If you master it, you end up feeling like you can do something that a lot of people can’t. Of course anyone has the potential to learn it, but it’s like learning any new language. Anyone can, but few do.
The job isn’t without its challenges. Clients keep you on your toes, and have been known to change their minds about what they want as a project progresses – and if they’re not clear on that, it’s harder for us to know how to help them. It all makes for a stimulating job overall though!
Even though I don’t write code on a daily basis, my appreciation for the joys of application development never diminished. I particularly enjoy watching a team of smart people work together to deliver value to our clients. Typically every project we do will have the aim of saving our clients some time, saving (or making) money, or achieving some sort of compliance. So there’s always a satisfying payoff once we go live. I also enjoy the fact that coding is such a great leveller. Anyone can do it, from pretty much anywhere (although we do enjoy seeing each other IRL). It just takes a blend of appetite, aptitude and commitment to get going.
Our main IT guy has been on leave recently. It got me thinking about the extent to which we are, or are not, dependent on the traditional ‘IT Department’ for our day-to-day needs. Things used to be very black and white. If you needed IT support, someone from the IT Department would help you. They would (hopefully) fix your problem and you could once again turn your attention to focusing exclusively on your work. IT was someone else’s problem. You, were the IT Department’s problem.
Now, however, it seems that we all comprise the IT Department. Here’s why…
At some point during the past however many years, there was a shift towards ‘bring your own device’ or ‘BYOD’ culture. I guess this happened at some point after dial-up broadband faded from view, but before Twitter matured out of infancy.
Even though this has not necessarily become a wholesale trend when it comes to laptops and desktops, there has certainly been a surge in smaller mobile devices – such as personal smartphones and tablets – being used for business purposes.
This trend has brought with it a set of liabilities that we all need to play a role in countering. We all need to be agents of the IT Department.
Don’t be fobbed off
People are out to get us, right? Or, if not us, then our data. So we need to take a multi-layered approach to security.
A key part of that often hinges on team members using an authentication app on their mobile phones, to facilitate multi-factor authentication. We don’t necessarily expect the IT Department to provide us with individual security fobs anymore. Instead, we all play our role, using the devices we already have.
Who doesn’t love a quizzy quiz? As standards such as ISO 27001 and SOC2 become more ubiquitous, so too does the need to demonstrate that everyone in the organisation is an information security savvy player. So you might find yourself subject to routine cyber awareness training, or anti-phishing education. The IT Department is only as strong as the weakest link. Don’t be ‘that guy’ (in the non-gender-specific sense of the term).
Fashion your own tools
Who builds the tools your team needs to get things done? Chances are, you do! Once you’ve exhausted the limits of documents and spreadsheets, you might want to explore databases, collaboration platforms and workflow automation tools to get things done. These days, it’s pretty easy to build your own work tools using platforms such as Notion, Airtable, Podio or myriad others. What you do not need to do (at least not in the first instance) is wait years for the traditional IT Department to build what you need. You ARE the IT Department. Get building.
Consumerise your work tools
Business applications have had to learn fast from consumer apps. The last decade has seen us using all sorts of apps and software in our personal lives, be it for social, personal productivity or lifestyle contexts. The battle for the best user experience is fiercely fought, and we bring our expectations of a frictionless consumer user experience with us to the workplace. Hence business applications have necessarily become more browser-based, friendlier to use and less likely to go wrong or crash. This reduces our dependence on Moss from the IT Department needing to visit our desk and upgrade our version of Microsoft whatever.
Fix your own mess
If you have a specific problem with your software, or even your hardware, the chances are you’re not alone. Someone somewhere else on the internet has had that same issue, and it’s a safe bet that they will have documented it. One of the greatest benefits (and, arguably, greatest dangers) of the web is the democratisation and dissemination of knowledge. You can find out how to do anything, make anything or fix anything within just a few minutes. You can fix your own IT issues. There are, of course, innate dangers in this approach, but nonetheless, you can be your own IT Department; rightly or wrongly.
So there we have it. The IT Department is at once everywhere and nowhere. It is not one of us, but all of us. We do, of course, still need to lean heavily on the department for specialist tasks, information security policy and leadership. But in terms of day-to-day execution, it’s down to all of us.