Software engineering is a branch of computer science that deals with the development, design, testing, and maintenance of software applications. Software engineers apply engineering knowledge and principles of programming languages so they can build software solutions for end users. They’re armed with the skills and knowledge to solve problems in the digital landscape.
Hiring trends show that software engineers are among the top positions companies are hiring for and a job outlook is projected to grow by 22% by 2030. If you’re wondering how to get your first software engineering job, you’ll need to master a handful of coding languages, as well as learn a few tips to actually get the job.
Read on to learn a few key steps to jumpstart your career and land your first job as a software engineer.
Learn proper skills and knowledge
There’s no right formula to becoming a software engineer, as there are many who are self-taught and others who have bachelor’s degrees in computer science. However, to get a job as a software engineer you can obtain an associate’s degree in software engineering, computer science, or a related technical subject. Start reading coding books, watch videos from software engineers, and take a software engineering course.
Online courses, for instance, are quite convenient and you’ll be able to learn from professional tutors that can help you deal with challenging issues. You can also get extra computer science homework help, or grasp important concepts with ease. In addition, you might consider completing a technical boot camp that lasts 2-3 months. You can decide whether you want to study security engineering, testing automation, front-end engineering, back-end engineering, or DevOps.
Build your portfolio
Once you acquire proper knowledge and skills, it’s time to start practicing and building your portfolio. The best way to gain experience in the field is through projects. Getting into the nitty gritty of software engineering requires developers to work on projects that allow the real-world application of their skills. You can start with an open source project, which is a great way to gain experience and grow your portfolio.
Keep in mind that even if you don’t have work experience as a developer, a portfolio of at least 3 projects is very important. Get creative and make fun projects to stand out. Don’t forget that the more passionate you sound when you describe your project to the interviewer the more chance you might have of getting the job. Also, be ready to discuss your projects’ strengths and weaknesses with them.
Find a mentor in the field
Expanding your network and finding a mentor in the field can give you inside tips to succeed in software engineering. It’s very important to find someone who’s where you want to be in the future, so make sure you conduct informational interviews with potential mentors to see whether their journey aligns with your career goals.
You can ask them for insights on the most common mistakes in the field and how to avoid them. They can also help you when you start your job hunt, as they’ll already know the application process and can give you some useful pointers. Let your mentor look at your resume, portfolio, and cover letter for potential improvements. If you’re just looking to upgrade your skills there are plenty of companies that offer apprenticeship programs where you can hone your skills and get more experience in the field.
Prepare for the technical interview
Every interview offers an opportunity to learn more about the field, company, and industry. Don’t forget to ask for feedback if you don’t end up getting the position you wanted as it may benefit you in the future. However, if you want to get the job, you’ll need to learn about the different stages of the software engineering hiring process, so you can answer their questions and pitch yourself as the candidate they should choose for the position.
The different stages of an interview include an initial phone interview with a hiring manager or a recruiter; a technical second interview with an engineer; a meeting with additional team members; and a final interview with a company leader. If you want to stand out you should prepare for any skill assessment or in-person coding exercises they might require. Additionally, know what programming languages you’ll be using and review practice software engineering interview questions beforehand, so you can prepare your answers.
Software engineering is a great career choice with a promising outlook and countless job opportunities. However, success in the field will require knowledge of programming languages, meaningful projects in your portfolio, and problem-solving skills. Once you’re ready you can start applying to software engineering jobs.