Career Insight: Computer Programmer / Senior Database Developer
In a nutshell, what do you do?
In my current role I develop mapping software, writing software that allows companies to view assets, infrastructure or anything else on a map, generally for purposes of planning or to aid field crews. My day to day work involves writing and debugging C# code and creating and maintaining database structures.
Why did you decide to become a Programmer / Senior Database Developer?
I was always interested in computers. Aptitude tests suggested I would be best at software development or accountancy and being an accountant didn’t appeal!
What path did you take into it?
I studied at university for four years, in my honours year I picked up part-time work for a company and ended up joining that company once I completed my studies.
What, in your opinion, is the best bit of being a Programmer / Senior Database Developer?
The intellectual challenge of solving difficult problems, and the sense of achievement when you create a program which makes peoples’ lives or jobs easier. Also generally development work is done as part of a team and there can be a real camaraderie built amongst the developers you are working with.
Every job has its downsides. What do you think are the worst bits?
Pressure can be intense as development times almost always blow out; if there is a deadline to meet this usually means longer hours. Also many roles are very boring, there is a limited sense of achievement in keeping a buggy system ticking over and the job can be monotonous.
Is it what you expected when you first started out – and what’s different?
It isn’t far off what I expected, the biggest difference is that there is often far more mundane support type work than actual development of new software, in fact many roles are pure support with no development at all.
What do the public least understand – or mistake – about what you do?
People often imagine developers all sitting in their cubicles doing their own thing, but it is far more team oriented than that. Social skills are actually a big part of the job.
What kind of people tend to do well?
Logical, analytical thinking and the ability to solve problems are important, and like most jobs, hard workers go far. It helps if you are an easy-going person who gets on with others and can work as part of a team.
Finally, any advice you’d offer to people looking to get into this line of work?
Do an aptitude test or try out some basic programming courses and see if you enjoy the work and take to it easily. With the move to cloud computing more and more of the easier development jobs are getting outsourced to countries where labour is much cheaper, so if you want to find work in the local market you are going to need to stand out.