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On software engineering

Conor Graham talks about why he enjoys software engineering, and how you can get involved.

Conor Graham Og (1)

Name: Conor GrahamTwitter: @ConorG763
Age: 21
Job Title: Intern Software Developer/ Student
Qualifications: Working towards BSc Computer Science
University: University of Ulster, Coleraine
Location: Portglenone, Co. Antrim, N.Ireland 

So Conor tell us what you enjoy most about software engineering?

I would have to say it would be the satisfaction of finally getting something to work. Now this may sound a bit obscure but to be honest, learning to code is difficult. You often find yourself not knowing what you are doing and it happens to all of us. We find ourselves searching the web for answers and randomly making code changes to get something to work. It happens to all of us, especially when we are new. So when we make certain tweaks and finally get it to do what it's supposed to do, it truly is a great feeling.

I often compare software development to writing a novel. Most people have never written a book before but it "looks" hard. And similarly, when writing stories, like code they both have to follow rules and guidelines in order to be successful.

In the same way that an author tinkers with individual sentences, a programmer refactors code. When you get something that “reads well”, it can bring a great feeling of achievement. 

Another reason would have to be the community. Through an exceptional placement experience last year at Instil Software, I got a real taste for how important meeting other developers is. After all, how many other industries meet up to talk about their work? Do we see bankers meeting up in the evenings to talk about.... well.. bank stuff? No we do not.

Through attending different meet ups in my area I got a chance to network and meet other individuals that shared the same passion that I have. A chance to have some beers and pizza along with an evening of local speakers chatting about upcoming frameworks or projects they have been working on.

Having people around you that you can ask questions to can be a massive confidence booster. Sometimes you can get trapped in a bubble where you need outside help, and everyone needs to ask questions no matter how good they are. So having a good community in your industry can be very beneficial.

What types of people are best suited for a career in software development?

I strongly believe that there is an engineer in all of us; sometimes it just needs a bit of encouragement. I think that one of the biggest misperceptions is that people often question whether they are “smart enough” to work in this industry. This is a load of baloney. If you are passionate about tech and ever thought “Wow, it would be cool to have my own app or website” or even picked up your tablet and thought, “I wonder how all this works” then you’re definitely in the right place. 

“Everybody in this country should learn how to program a computer… because it teaches you how to think.” - Steve Jobs

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get into coding?

1. Resources are everywhere:

The best aspect about learning to program is that all your resources can be found all over the internet for free. With websites such as CodeschoolCodeacademy and Khan Academy you can learn how to develop your own game or app in no time. And it doesn’t cost you anything. 

Here is a link to some of the most popular sites used.

2. Get involved:

Thanks to volunteer-led movements such as Coder Dojo and Code Clubs it is a great chance to not only learn to code, but to also meet some other aspiring developers. Finding people that have similar interests to you is always great, and who knows, they might have a solution to an algorithm that you have been working on for days!

3. Build something:

Come up with an idea for a project, and then build it.

If you want to learn, the best way is by doing. Start small, and if you find yourself stuck, and you just can’t understand why your code isn’t compiling then reach out. Use forums, books and local developers you might think may know the answer; and once you have got the solution, keep going.

Nothing will impress a future employer more than having something to showcase your talents.

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