What do Software Engineers do?

Check out the different career paths that you can take up as a Software Engineer.

Ever visited a website and wondered how within seconds you watched the TV show from the internet that has launched recently or played a round of Angry Bird on your mobile phone and now you just can’t get enough of it? Well on all such occasions you are interacting with a product created by a team software engineers.

Software engineering is a field of computer science, which deals with the development of different software-related products such as a website (e.g. Netflix) or a mobile application (as in our above examples). Gaming and coming up with a streaming service is just not it; a software engineer may be involved at different levels of creation of a myriad of tools and technologies. This may include developing or maintaining an Operating System (like Windows), creating software applications (e.g. Internet Download Manager), or web applications (MakeMyTrip).

What are the different career paths that come under the title ‘Software Engineer’?

Web Developers

Web Developers are the minds behind the plethora of websites we see on the internet. Web Developers are usually further divided into three categories:

Front End Developers

There are multiple roles involved in the creation of a website. First, a designer comes up with a design for a website (i.e. how a website should look like). Those software engineers who take up the idea of how a website should look and write programs to realise the designs are called Front End developers. While design is the way a webpage is ideated to look like, front end development is how the particular design actually gets implemented on the website.

The job of a front-end developer is to weave together the idea of design and the power of technology to bring about a website. Front end developers produce code in form of HTML, JavaScript and CSS. With the help of these technologies, contents of various types such as images, buttons, search-bar, internal links, navigation bar, forms, and payment gateways can be shown on the website.

The idea behind designing a website is that the user gets to see the information for which they entered the site in an easy and memorable format. The fact that today, there are devices with dimensions ranging from few cms to massive inches makes it a considerable challenge for a developer to come up with the code that tackles this variation.

Back End Developers

These developers take care of databases that are used to make the functioning of the website possible. E.g. when you enter your credentials and get into your Facebook account within less than a second, back end developers are behind this, making sure you get quick access to pages specific to you.

The task of a back-end developer is to make sure the website’s swift running, i.e. they must keep care that data requested by the user is always available. The back end part of the website could include a database (eg. Information regarding users on Facebook – their name, friends, photos) and a programming language (Python, Ruby, JavaScript) which interacts with the server that contains the databases and hosts the website.

Full Stack Developers 

These are those engineers whose duties encompass both of the above aspects of web development, i.e. the back end and the front end of the website. So, a Full Stack developer is a sort of “Jack of all”, they can work with databases, set up websites on a server and build the front-end of the site as well.

Few Website developers you can follow to keep up with the latest trends: Addy Osmani, Jason Miller, Oleg, Sarah Drasner, Bruce Lawson

Game Developers and Designers

Do you feel curious about how Mario is getting to a new scene every time you run him ahead? Well, that game is a product of a team of game developer and designers. While the game developers create computer programs that make the game possible, the game designer zooms into establishing how the game come to be, i.e. the obstacles the heroes face, how they would attack the enemy, and how they level up gets decided by the designers of the game.

Game dev accounts to know what’s the latest brewing in the industry: PixelProspector, Rami Ismail, Daniel Linssen

Mobile Developers

With the massive influx of smartphone and internet-related technologies, the mobile industry is expanding faster than ever. The biggest drivers of this push are mobile developers. Behind the applications, you see on iOS, and android mobile phones lie the programming genius of a team of mobile developers. These professionals create apps that work across various mobile screen sizes, irrespective of their companies.

The developers specialise in making applications for mobile platforms such as Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS platforms. Each platform usually has its core development environment (e.g. Java for Android, Objective-C for iOS) which is also known as the native environment.

Top Mobile Developers to follow: Eric Meyer, Jake Archibald, Lea Verou

How to become a Software Engineer

Planning to become a Software Engineer? Know the skill set required to have a lucrative career in the field.

Software Engineering is considered as one of the most sought-after career options not just in India but all across the world. Those taking their career leaps in the software domain are amongst the highest-paid people on the planet. But what exactly is the skill set required to enter such a lucrative field? In this post, we will drill down all the skills you need to acquire to become a top-notch candidate for the position of a software engineer in one of the prime companies.

  1. Get a degree in Computer Science

After completing your school education, you can enroll yourself in any of the top engineering colleges in India (depending on your performance in entrance examinations like JEE) and choose to pursue your bachelor’s degree in computer science, which is a 4-year course.

A degree in computer science has its pros such as it provides you with a decent timeline to narrow your career goals and work towards them. You can always also get yourself involved in extracurricular activities and work on your personality development as well.

But there are areas where college education might seem insufficient. While the industry looks for students who are talented in the practical aspect of computer science, the curriculum at most of the engineering colleges, especially those of India, are seen to be driven more on the theoretical part of the computer science branch.

  1. Take up online courses

To get hands-on experience on how to work with the latest technologies and come up with products that could make a difference to one’s career students can enroll in online courses.

There are many free resources and courses available online that one can sign up for, a few course providers are Coursera, EdX. These organisations offer courses (called MOOCs) in collaboration with some of the top universities of the world, like MIT, Harvard, Princeton. While these courses are fantastic to complement your college education, the one shortcoming they have is that they might not be able to provide you with a doubt resolution mechanism. Also, MOOCs might feel like going through a bit of an alone ride.

To tackle the two shortcomings, one can go for bootcamps. Bootcamps are full-time coding schools created to educate students with little-to-no programming experience for a job in the field of computer science. Bootcamps usually run for 6-24 weeks. There are various online bootcamp courses available (though they are typically paid, due to the availability of professional help).

Udacity, Coding Ninjas are two of the most popular paid options. Besides state-of-the-art courses in Data Science and Machine Learning, Coding Ninjas runs a bootcamp of 6 months duration and prepares students for a software engineering career in Full Stack Development. Udacity, on the other hand, is known for its nanodegree courses Data Analytics and Cloud Computing. These organisations offer a platform for doubt resolution and help students work on their soft skills, resumes and improve their profiles.

  1. Projects and Internships

“Don’t tell, show!” While studying in a technology-related field, knowing the concepts of a subject well is only the first step in learning. It is of immense importance that you could use the knowledge acquired and be able to come up with a practical project with it. These projects not only make it easier for the recruiters to see your commitment for the field but also in a way, prepares you for a career in computer science. You can come up with a project idea for the core subjects like Computer Networking, Operating System, Database Management, etc.

Furthermore, to get familiar with workings of a tech company and improve your skills, you must try to do as many quality internships as possible during your 4-year stint at the degree. The best time to go for internships is usually at the end of the 2nd year and the end of the 3rd year. Professional contacts, college seniors & alumni are the perfect people to get you connected to a potential employer.

  1. Getting efficient in one programming language

Programming is the soul of computer science. No matter what computer engineering role you take up in a company, you must be proficient in at least one programming language. Python or C++ are usually the best choices for someone just getting their feet wet in the programming arena.

  1. Competitive Programming

While you try your hand at projects and hunt for internships, you must keep continuing to get better at your programming and algorithmic skills; competitive programming can come to the rescue. Competitive programming is a mind sport usually held over the Internet or a local network, involving participants trying to program according to provided specifications.

Various websites regularly host programming contests such as Codechef, Codeforces, Hackerrank and LeetCode.

  1. Gaining skills in a particular niche – Web Development/Mobile Development/Game Development/Data Science

Along with brushing your algorithmic and programming skills, it is of paramount importance that you develop a skill set in any of the principal areas of Computer Science.

Web Development

If building websites is your calling, then web development would be a perfect start to your career in Software Engineering. There are two main areas in website development – front-end and back-end development. While front-end is all about the visual elements you may observe on a website; the back end is what keeps care of where the website is stored, how it runs and manages the databases of information. You can choose to take up either of these areas or both of the areas, in which case you’ll be what is knowing as a Full Stack developer.

Important topics: HTML CSS and JS, Backend Development using NodeJS and MongoDB, Projects using the mentioned technologies.

Game Development

Does it ever matter to you more about how in Counter-Strike game you are getting to a new scene every time you walk in a direction? If you irk about how this scene in the game could have been better or how the calculation of health is all wrong, get in the hot seat and make a better game! Game Development is for you! The aspect of developing a game is taken care of by a team of developers. Whereas, it’s the designers who create the tale around a game and design the scenes.

Important Topics: Unity 3D, Javascript, SQL, MVC model, HTML5, PyGame.

Mobile Development

Ever wondered about how mobile applications like WhatsApp that has been used by millions of people around the world get created? With the massive rise in the number of smartphones, the mobile app industry is booming. Behind these iOS and Android applications, there is a vast team of mobile developers and designers. Applications are created such that, they work on all smartphones irrespective of their Operating System or screen size.

Important Topics: Java (to build apps for Android phones), Objective-C (to build apps for iOS phones)

Data Science

One of the hottest career paths of the 21st century, data science offers some of the highest-paying jobs in the tech industry.

According to a statistician Josh Willis, Data Scientist is a “person who is better at statistics than any software engineer and better at software engineering than any statistician.” If you think you are good when it comes to critical thinking and quantitative aptitude or you have a belief to gain that expertise, a career in data science is there for the taking.

Important Topics: Statistics. Linear Algebra. Programming, Data Visualization, Machine Learning. 

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