This article is part of the Coaching Collective series, featuring tips and expertise from Flatiron School Career Coaches. Every Flatiron School graduate is eligible to receive up to 180 days of 1:1 career coaching with one of our professional coaches. This series is a glimpse of the expertise you can access during career coaching at Flatiron School.
Almost every company needs a website, an app, or some form of underlying software or technology to survive as a thriving business, which is why many companies need Software Engineers.
The demand for Software Engineers is high but what does it take to be a great Software Engineer?
In my experience as a former Project Manager in the tech industry and now career coach working with tech professionals, I have seen attributes in the individuals that go on to become successful developers.
Let’s look at the characteristics that many of these coders have in common that may be the traits that make them stay in the field with great success. If you share some of these talents and strengths, then you may be someone who would be a great Software Engineer.
7 attributes that could make you a great software engineer:
1. Problem solver
Do you love to solve problems or puzzles? Do you like a real challenge? You can easily get sucked into a puzzle that is sitting out on the kitchen table.
Coding is like one giant puzzle waiting for all the pieces to be put together in just the right order. If solving a problem gets you in the flow and makes it easy for you to forget about everything else, you should consider being a software developer. Whether it is fixing broken code or building a workable solution that a customer needs, you are all in until you solve the challenge.
2. Love building things
Building new things may likely be a big passion and what attracted you to the field in the first place. The idea of building something from nothing reminds you of your youth — playing with Legos or that first thing you made in an online coding program such as Scratch. You simply love the idea of building things in a tech career, and you believe creating things that improve people’s lives with technology is a great way to make a difference in the world.
3. Pursuit of mastery
You have a natural curiosity for new tools and technologies and love comparing the new with the old. You know you are not perfect but you strive for perfection, which would contribute to your need to develop clean code without any glaring bugs. You also know when something is good enough to launch, because there is always room for improvements later on.
The field of Software Engineering is constantly evolving and changing. If you like the idea of staying up-to-date with the latest technologies, being resourceful, and developing your knowledge of coding languages, software engineering could be an interesting and challenging field for you.
4. Team player
Working in collaboration with a team is part of why you are motivated to get up in the morning. It doesn’t matter if you are meeting in person or online via Zoom, but you thrive on building something together with other diverse professionals.
While there are times when developers work alone diving into their specific part of the project, your work will be solving problems as part of a team. Tech is often “all hands on deck,” and there are often opportunities to work from anywhere and still be part of a global team.
Do you love finding new ways to streamline and automate things? You likely have built your own tools to help simplify work. Part of your need to be efficient is an ability to see the upstream and downstream impacts of what you build. You see both the big picture and the small details of how a new feature would impact the rest of a system. You like order, efficiency, and things to make logical sense.
As a software engineer, problem-solving can sometimes take many hours of trial and error testing to get something to work properly. You will be developing new versions and debugging code, which all have many variables to consider. You will need to have the internal drive and motivation to do whatever it takes to get a machine working as expected and within the deadline. Learning under pressure is truly motivating, you know how to manage your time so you don’t burn out, and you can be adaptable.
You love the idea of working in a profession that is built on mentoring and learning from more experienced developers. You’ve heard of pair programming where you do coding and problem solving with another developer. Someday you would like to do the same for other developers — become a mentor to share what you’ve learned.
If you can relate to a few of these characteristics then you may have found the right profession as a Software Engineer?
Knowing that you have what it takes is just the first step. The next thing is to get yourself into a great training program and coding bootcamps are the fastest way to get there and Flatiron School can teach you the skills you need to become a software engineer.
About Julie Allen
Julie Allen is a career coach with Flatiron school. She also has a private career coach business called The StoryMakers. Julie comes from 20 years as a manager in the tech industry helping corporate America achieve its goals. She is located in the Seattle area, where she inspires young professionals to go after their dream jobs. Julie holds a BA in English and Psychology from Washington State University and an MBA from Golden Gate University.