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Why train to become a Software Engineer? Everything you need to know

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ARTICLE SUMMARY

SheCanCode looks at the benefits of becoming a Software Engineer and why more women should consider a career in this field.

If you’re considering a career as a Software Engineer, now is the time to train since they’re in demand.

The need for Software Engineers doubled in 2021, according to the latest “State of Software Engineers” report by tech hiring SPECIALISTS Hired.

Tracking 224,367 interview requests for Software Engineering roles in 2021, Hired revealed this figure is up from 106,101 in 2020.

SheCanCode spoke with a range of females working in this area to hear their thoughts on the benefits of working in software development and why more women should consider a career in this field.

In 2016, Davinder Kaur-Marko, Head of Software Delivery at PensionBee, decided to embark on a new adventure, enrolling in a coding bootcamp to retrain as a Software Engineer.

“At the beginning, I was so worried about the steep learning curve ahead of me. I felt like it would take more than three months to make me one of the cool ‘computer people’ you see on tv and in films, and to be able to build software the way Developers I respected could,” she said.

Kaur-Marko, added: “It is incredible how much a good bootcamp can teach you. But you have to put in the work yourself, and find you actually want to do this because constantly learning and building projects can be addictive! When I started my first job as a Junior Developer, I was once again filled with worry: this time about not being good enough. I felt like I needed an exact set of skills or experience to succeed, but this was far from the truth – and shouldn’t hold anyone back when considering a career change.

“In fact, most Developer teams are nurturing environments because so much of being a Software Engineer is about “learning on the job”, trying out solutions, pairing and knowledge-sharing with others. This is a huge benefit in an employment landscape and industry which is constantly changing. Before you know it, you have gone from building small features to taking ownership of bigger projects.”

Kaur-Marko notes that there’s a big misconception that Software Engineers only code, “but there’s also the product development side, planning new features and the methods to implement them,” she explained.

“Software Delivery is where I have found my passion. Building quality tools and features that help the PensionBee team serve our internal and external customers more efficiently – such as improving the time taken to process pension policies sent through the post – is undoubtedly the most rewarding part of my job.”

Creating impact as a female Software Engineer

“Why consider becoming a Software Engineer? So, you can create maximum impact on the way you want to see the world around you evolve,” said Linda Dotts, Chief Partner Strategy Officer, at Blue Prism.

“Society needs women as Software Engineers so technology can be informed by a woman’s perspective. So many things in our modern day have been conceived purely from men’s perspective, and while they have allowed us to get this far it is critical that technology, particularly AI and machine learning, incorporate a diverse set of inputs in order to support the society we are and we will become. As technology becomes more integrated into our lives, even beginning to make subjective decisions, it is more critical than ever to ensure teams writing the code and informing those choices represent the society the technology will support.”

According to Dotts, diverse voices are important to companies to ensure the best possible outcome: “This diversity should not be limited to gender but needs to consider race, ethnicity, age, religion, and even industry background as the technology Software Engineers build often has broader applications to the sectors they serve.”

“A Software Engineer from a business process or operations role or with unique industry expertise may hold different priorities and ideas for innovation than a Software Engineer who has worked exclusively at technology companies. We often refer to them as citizen developers and new low/no code automation capabilities can now provide their entrée to a software career. Hosting a variety of perspectives will allow teams to cover more innovative bases and ensure the best path forward is found.”

The pandemic changed the landscape – the time is now

“As the Great Resignation leaves employers struggling to fill open positions, women who are considering a move to the tech industry have a window of opportunity to make that career leap.  Now, more than ever, organisations are willing to take chances on high-potential candidates that have recently switched careers. They recognise the value that diversity brings to team health, and are restructuring their benefits – including remote work and flexible schedules – to attract and retain talent,” said Lilac Mohr, Software Engineering Lead at skills development platform Pluralsight Flow.

Mohr said she started working in tech at a very young age, taking programming classes in school and landing an internship writing software at the age of 17.

“Over my career, I’ve worked with (and hired) many Software Engineers that came from different industries. They often suffer from imposter syndrome, thinking that they lack something because they didn’t follow what many consider a ‘traditional’ path into the industry – may be attending a bootcamp instead of getting a four-year CS degree, or working for years in an unrelated field – but I’ve found that those engineers always have so much to contribute. On my current team, I have former teachers, writers, philosophy majors, and others. They each bring unique skills and perspectives, which makes our team stronger, and our work better,” said Mohr.

Mohr shared the advice that she wished someone had given her when she started her career: “Don’t be afraid to bring your authentic self to work. Don’t cling to stereotypes of what a Software Engineer should be like or what you think organisations are looking for… companies are looking for you to show up as you are. If you’re a mother, if you have an employment gap, if your last career was not even close to the tech industry, embrace those things as differentiating factors that make you a better teammate, a better leader, a creative problem-solver. The only thing standing between you and a new career is your own self-doubt. This is the perfect time to make things happen, so give yourself a little pep-talk and put yourself out there.”

“By nature, Software Developers tend to be curious and always keen to explore the newest tech on the market. Taking these characteristics into account when designing job ads, and refreshing your perks can make all the difference in winning great talent to fill your Developer vacancies,” said Nabila Salem, President at Revolent.

“For example, while you might have a trusty program you’ve always relied on to help previous Developers do the job, if there’s an opportunity to implement some high-tech new software, do it because this can be a major point of attraction for their professional development.”

Salem added: “As the pandemic redefined the modern workforce’s priorities, we saw things like well-being, company culture, and training and development opportunities overtake financial incentives in what is most attractive to professionals from all industries. And prioritising these areas won’t only ensure that your current workforce is happy and motivated, but also raises the likelihood that they will refer people they know or have connections with to join your company.

“Of course, you’ll need to offer something in return for successful employee referrals, but this will be well worth it to attract a Software Developer—a role that has very high competition given the fresh demand for accelerated technological advancements.”

The industry is still misunderstood

“With science and technology shaping every aspect of all our lives, diverse talent is essential to truly create the products, solutions, and services that resonate with lots of different people. An exciting area that hosts a wide range of opportunities in software development: whether it’s creating mobile apps, building infrastructure platforms, designing compelling user experiences – there’s something in software for everyone, yet the gender gap is currently very clear,” said Mairead O’Connor, Business Unit Managing Director at AND Digital.

“The industry is still very much misunderstood, and the age-old image of the solo male coder working in a basement is far from reality. Being a Software Developer is much more than just the technical skills it involves, it is also important for such people to have great, so-called ‘soft skills’ – such as teamwork, communication, creativity and pragmatic problem-solving. A computer science degree can be a great route into a tech career, but it’s definitely not the only route, and for women who maybe didn’t receive the STEM support growing up – this is important to know. I studied sciences at university, but some of the most insightful technologists I know have studied humanities or learned their skills outside of university,” she added.

“The tech industry is constantly changing, and therefore the skills requirement does too. Businesses looking to succeed in today’s ever-increasing digital world will be those that have diverse teams who understand the end-audience. Learning from each other is an important part of innovation and forming diverse teams will only lead to a more exciting and creative future.”

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