Learn how to become a software engineer in this simple step-by-step career guide. Plus, find software development career insights and tips.
Given the fact that today’s technology growth is remarkably fast, software engineering has become mainstream it’s one of the most sought-after jobs in the market. Software engineering is an important field that plays one of the biggest roles in both of our future’s technology and technology’s future.
Before we jump into the how to’s, let’s know more about Software Engineers first.
WHAT IS A SOFTWARE ENGINEER AND WHAT DO THEY DO?
Software engineers assist in the development of Artificial intelligence(AI), Machine Learning, robotics, Virtual Reality(VR), and Augmented Reality(AR) that many people are now enjoying. They design, create, test, maintain and develop websites, computer and smartphone applications, and other devices such as Smart Homes, Self-driving cars, and virtual assistants.
Pretty awesome, right?
You can do this, too! Here are some of the tips on how to become a Software Engineer:
- Set goals and stick with it
- Choose what language to learn
- Learn to code
- Be with people with the same goals as you
- Look for a good mentor
- Create your own projects
- Build up your professional network
- Apply and ace your job interviews
1. SET GOALS AND MAKE PLANS
Setting a goal and making plans before starting a new journey is important. “I will become a Software Engineer!” is a good one. But what kind of Software Engineer would you want to be? A Software Engineer who wants to work with a big or a start-up company? Do you want to be a freelance software engineer or do you want to create your own team? You need to have a specific and clear vision of your goal.
Once the goal and your vision is crystal to you, creating a plan for that goal should be the next step. Setting a goal without an appropriate and proper plan is useless, no matter how clear the goal is. And of course, you have to stick with that goal, follow the plan and be committed to it.
2. CHOOSE WHAT PROGRAMMING LANGUAGE TO LEARN
Computers won’t adjust to us, so we have to adjust to them. And in order to make a computer do what you want them to do, you have to “tell” them what to do by using the language they understand; computer or programming language.
A programming language is a language used to create a program that “tells” computers algorithms or a set of instructions for them to implement certain tasks.
There are quite a number of languages in computer programming. Wikipedia says there are about 700 programming languages in existence.
But here are some of the most in-demand programming languages of 2019.
To know about the top programming languages, read “The 7 Most In-Demand Programming Languages of 2019.”
Having a specific computer language to learn should be part of the plan to reach your goal. After choosing a language—or languages, if you want to learn more than one—you go to the next step, and that is learning to code.
3. LEARN TO CODE
Anyone can learn to code. And there are three ways to learn how to programme. The first option is self-studying or self-learning. The internet is just one of the tools to learn to code. With just a few clicks or taps, you can access the data you need. The internet can provide materials you can use to start studying on your own. For instance, coding tutorial ebooks or pdf files are accessible online, as well as video coding tutorials available on Youtube.
One of the advantages of self-study is you can learn how to code at your own pace. However, it might affect the speed of your learning. Whether you learn sooner or later, it depends on how much time you dedicate on studying.
Taking A Computer Science Course
The second option is taking a Computer Science course and getting a degree. Generally, an associate degree program only takes two years, and the bachelor’s degree takes four years. After those years, you will be a Computer Scientist or Engineer with a deep understanding of how a computer works. Many companies require and look for developers with CS degrees, but some companies prefer developers who graduated from coding bootcamps. Which leads us to the third option of learning to code.
Enrolling On A Coding Bootcamp
A coding bootcamp is an intensive program to learn computer programming in a fixed period of time. The program typically ranges between 8 to 36 week, but most bootcamps last for just about 10-12.9 weeks. In Coding Dojo, we offer both online and onsite course. We have a curriculum that helps potential and aspiring Software Engineers become not just one but three full-stacks engineers in just 14 weeks! The time for learning to code is shorter than taking a Computer Science course, but as already mentioned, many companies also prefer and hire coding bootcamp graduates.
4. BE WITH PEOPLE WHO HAS THE SAME GOALS AS YOU
Being a part of the growing web development community, where people are like-minded and eager to learn new things is one of the advantages of learning to code in a coding school or a bootcamp. You help each other to reach your goals; that is to learn to code and become Software Engineers. You will learn and sharpen problem-solving skills with them and learn from them, as well.
In addition, it also gives you an opportunity to build strong connections and get tremendous inspiration from instructors, who are professional developers, and even your fellow aspiring developers. This journey isn’t easy. You need people who will remind you and even inspire you to keep going until you reach your goal with them. And besides being with instructors and fellow student, one of the ways to help you in this journey is also having your own and personal mentor.
5. LOOK FOR A GOOD AND SUPPORTIVE MENTOR
Studies show that learning one-on-one with a mentor can give a profound impact on your performance and improvement. They can help you accelerate your learning, stay grounded and open-minded, they can help you in your decision-making, and inspire you to go on. Having a mentor who is professional in this field is a must because they have walked the path you are walking now. They are like tour guides that know the road so well and will even show you shortcuts.
Programming can be really stressful, you will meet some downsides. There will be a lot of struggles which might make you think of putting up a white flag and stop everything mid-way. That’s why you need to look for a mentor who is professional in this field. Mentorship is really helpful if you find the right one. Most professionals can testify to that.
6. CREATE YOUR OWN PROJECTS
After learning how to code, you can start by refining your skills through building your own projects. You can build projects on your own, or with a team. It will give you the freedom to choose according to your preference, and you also learn more along the way. You will realize your weaknesses and find ways to strengthen them. Building your own projects adds to your portfolio which will give you something to show off when you apply for a job.
7. BUILD UP YOUR OWN PROFESSIONAL NETWORK
On this part, you will realize how valuable connection is. As mentioned earlier, being surrounded by people with the same goal will give you an automatic support system, a network that will help you in this journey.
Creating hundreds of résumés and applying to various companies are just some of the ways to find the software engineering job you need. But one of the most effective ways to find a job is through referrals or networking. 78% of recruiters noted referrals as the best way to hire employees. Jobvite also mentioned referred applicants are five times more likely to be hired than average, and 15 times more likely to be hired than applicants from a job board.
You can start finding a job using your two degrees of connection: first is your friend and acquaintances, and the second degree is your friend’s friends. Your friends can refer you to their friends, or their friends will do it for them. But there are also other ways to widen and strengthen your network. For example, attending meet-ups, hackathons, speaking at events for exposure, and maintaining a coding or programming blog is also an option.
8. APPLY AND ACE YOUR JOB INTERVIEW
As a beginner in this field, having no strong connection and network who can refer you to employers, is normal. So, of course, you need to apply for a job. You can either search and apply online, or print a résumé and go to the company you want to be part of. And part of applying is the interview proper. You have to ace your job interview and get hired.
We know job interviews can be intimidating, especially if you are new to this field. But just like other job interviews, it’s not impossible to ace them. One of the ways to prepare yourself in your interview is thinking like the interviewer. Put yourself in their shoes and consider what they might be looking for an employee or anticipate what questions they might ask. Here are some possible questions that you might want to consider:
- Does this candidate have the aptitude to keep learning?
- Does this candidate seem curious?
- Does this candidate seem proactive?
- Does this candidate seem collaborative, like a team player?
- Does this candidate communicate their thought process and think methodically?
Please, read “5 Tips to Ace Your Technical Interview” to learn more.
Before You Go…
Starting or switching a career isn’t easy, even the process is hard. Along the way, you may have thoughts of giving up and or going back to your comfort zone. But when you push through and succeed to become a Software Engineer, when you are already a part of the field that helps the future of today grow more, everything will be worth it.
Coding Dojo will help you learn to code, become a three full-stack developer and until you land a job. We have a Career Service that is supporting students, and even graduates accomplish their short and long-term goals. You can watch this video to help you learn more about how Coding Dojo shows the way on how to become a Software Engineer.
Come join us and let the fun of coding begin!