As a software engineer, you need to have a strong understanding of core computer science concepts. Knowing how data and memory are managed, and how these processes work together, is essential.

But expertise is not about knowing everything – it’s about adaptability. The software engineering ecosystem is evolving rapidly, so the willingness to learn new techniques is as important as a solid understanding of key principles.

Tenacity and integrity are essential attitudes software engineers must integrate into their approach. Software engineering is a team sport. When following agile methodology, teams work on a common backlog of work, discussing progress and impediments frequently. The ability to work in a team and communicate effectively is crucial. Here are my tips for developing your software engineering career.

Develop your personal interests in software

The key requirement for becoming a software engineer is the ability to learn and adapt. The tools and techniques used by software engineers are changing all the time. Even once you’ve become a proficient software developer, you must continue to develop yourself.

I learned the core concepts of software engineering at university but my love for computing formed long before that. At school and at home, I undertook some simple programming in my leisure time, tinkering with hardware and of course playing computer games. This sparked an interest, helping me decide on a career in software and ultimately helped me achieve success in the early stages.

Software hobbyists often come from completely different backgrounds. I’ve worked with excellent software engineers who had degrees in history and philosophy. Other engineering fields also often feed into software – one of the best developers I’ve worked with had a background in civil engineering. The possible paths to software engineering are limitless.

This diversity strengthens a team because ideas and solutions can be more unique and drawn from a wider range of options. There is also room for change and movement across the software field itself. Lots of software engineers go from product development to support, consulting or testing backgrounds.

Take a holistic view

In the world of agile software development, engineers are responsible for much more than just writing code. It’s common for software engineers to take part in all stages of product development. This can involve anything from refining requirements to planning and estimating tasks, then writing code, conducting automated tests and managing packaging, and finally delivering the finished solution through to production.

Once delivered, the job is still not complete. Engineers often assist with supporting the running system, gathering feedback and being ready or at hand to drive the next development cycle. The emergence of DevOps has shown that taking a holistic view of software carves out a space for building better solutions.

As a software engineer, it’s your responsibility to oversee a feature through from start to finish and ensure you’re delivering value to your business users.

Having the integrity to admit when things fail and the tenacity to handle these challenges is key to success.

Paul Farrar

Senior Software Engineer - Objective Corporation

Be flexible and open to challenges

When designing and developing software solutions, you will inevitably run into problems. Bugs are raised, requirements change, and things don’t go as you’d expected. Having the integrity to admit when things fail and the tenacity to handle these challenges is key to success.

In my experience, software engineering projects come in many different forms, each having their own unique challenges. Some projects require stringent focused performance on low latency or optimised memory usage for large datasets. Other projects are technically less challenging but instead pose significant difficulties in design, infrastructure or mutual agreement when it comes to processing changes.

Working with legacy code can often create a significant challenge. I once worked on a project to improve the performance of a complex user interface. There was a significant amount of logic built into the client-side code which meant some actions were slow and the user became frustrated. The solution was to refactor the complex logic from the client-side code and run it in a background "worker" process.

Once the complexity had been decoupled from the user interface it became much more responsive. This project involved a large amount of legacy code which needed to be split between the user interface and the background process. This kind of refactoring needs to be done delicately as legacy code often has nuances that are not easy to see but are easy to break.

What’s it like to be a software engineer at Objective?

At Objective, we’re working to build products that solve real business problems for our customers. Many of our customers are public sector or local government agencies. Our products help them to be more efficient allowing for better outcomes for citizens. In this way, our products have a ripple effect and help make everyone’s lives better.

Software engineering is highly valued at Objective. This is shown by increased investment in R&D each year which in turn drives better outcomes for our customers. Software engineers are involved in all stages of product development. We take care to ensure that features are delivered properly to provide outstanding products that delight our users.

Importantly, we’re given time to innovate. This time can be spent carefully fixing a process, learning new skills or creating something new. We are entrusted to manage our time to do what we see fit. Projects created during innovation time have led to improvements in our products and better features for our customers – and it’s a great learning experience for us all.

If you’re interested in joining a supportive and innovative software engineering team, take a look at our available opportunities.