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Categories: Software Developer, Woz U
6 August, 2019
by Jacob Mayhew
Chief Executive Officer | Woz U
"Without having worked previously in software development, it’s difficult to know what the job is actually like. As a result, you may have felt hesitant about beginning a career in the field and taking the necessary steps forward."

What Software Developers Actually Do

If you’re considering becoming a software developer, you’ve probably read a lot of information regarding salaries, job satisfaction rates, and the education you need to start this lucrative career. You may have even combed over a few job postings and noted the required skills you need to get your first job. However, it’s much more difficult to find information about what being a software developer job entails. Maybe you just want to know what software developers actually do, on a daily basis.

Perhaps you have the misconception that a software development job will involve coding for hours by yourself in a dark room—and that doesn’t sit well with you. You may, in fact, be a team player that thrives in a social environment. But, without knowing what the job involves, it’s very hard to know whether or not software development is right for you. To help you better understand what software developers actually do on a regular basis, we wrote this article just for you. 

Designing & Planning

Before you ever put your fingers to the keyboard, you’ll start the software development process with designing and planning. Whether you’re developing software for an individual or for an organization, you’ll first need to understand what the client is asking for and how to make it a reality through code. This process will most likely involve drawing on a whiteboard, going back and forth with colleagues, and discussing the best plan of action for the project. 

Once the idea for the software has been finalized, a software developer will begin creating sketches of what the application will actually look like, along with specifications on data structures and workflows. You’ll then discuss any additional features with your team and finalize the sketch. By now, you may be itching to write a line of code and get started already. But, this step is extremely important because planning ahead can save you and your team a lot of wasted time, in the long run.

Coding

If your team is on the same page for the proposed design, you’ll begin writing the first lines of code. Contrary to popular belief, software developers don’t spend that much time coding. Instead, they spend the majority of their day identifying problems and searching for the most elegant solution. Just like a writer who sits down and thinks before writing a novel, software developers must first formulate the ideas in their head before typing them out.

Some days, you may not even code at all. Rather, you’ll spend all of your time in the planning, designing, and brainstorming stages of the development process. This is especially true if you work for a larger firm, which has more people to handle the manual work involved in projects. In general, if you work at a small firm, you will do the majority of the coding in addition to the planning and design.

This crucial distinction between small and large firms will help you decide where you want to work in the future. It’s highly unlikely that you would want to become a software developer if you don’t like to code, but it’s helpful to ask yourself if there may be other tasks you’d like to do as well. Maybe instead of coding for one hundred percent of the day, you would like to take on more responsibilities in the areas of design, project management, etc.  

Meeting with Coworkers

You may have overheard a software developer using the term, “scrum” or have seen it in a job posting. In layman’s terms, Scrum is a strategy for project management that is characterized by small teams of individuals working simultaneously on their own tasks. Over a period of two weeks to a month (called a sprint), all of the individuals in the team will work on a task and meet daily to give updates on their progress. These meetings may last anywhere between 5 to 15 minutes and are usually done standing up.

“Why are scrum meetings done standing instead of sitting?” you may ask. Well, the guys who invented scrum realized that standing for long periods of time is uncomfortable, which makes all members eager to end the meeting quickly. This ensures that less time is wasted and that each member is efficient with the time they are given to speak. 

During the scrum meeting, each team member gets approximately one minute to discuss: a) what they did yesterday to help the team meet their sprint goal, b) what they will today do to help meet the sprint goal, and c) any possible obstacles preventing them or the team from meeting their goal. Once the sprint goal has been achieved, the team will set the next sprint goal and repeat the process.

This methodology is very common for software developers because of the ever-changing nature of software development. In many cases, a client will change their mind or make new requests during the development stage. For this reason, software developers need to stay as “agile” as possible and take small, short steps in the process. Otherwise, a software development team could finish a product, only to find out that the customer wasn’t pleased with the end result. 

Fixing Bugs

Fixing bugs in old software is an unexciting, but necessary task in software development. Many of the products you have already created for clients will need updates, patches, and fixes, due to the changing nature of operating systems. If a new version of Android or iOS is released, for example, it will be your job to perform changes and make it compatible. Additionally, if users encounter problems in the software that you missed the first time, you’ll have to fix them.

Learning

Software Development is an unending process of acquiring new knowledge and seeking out answers. Google will become your best friend—if it wasn’t already. You will also spend time reading software development blogs, documentation, and written materials that help you perform your job better. 

Testing

After developing an MVP (Minimal Viable Product), you’ll move on to the testing stage. Here, you put your software to the challenge and try to find any possible bugs or issues before your users do. Many software developers believe that this is the job of a software tester, but ensuring that the software you create is of top quality is still your responsibility. 

Talking with Clients

Social and conflict resolution skills are extremely important for a successful career in Software Development. Yes, you can choose to stay at your desk where no one will bother you and code for hours. However, you will severely limit your career growth by choosing to not engage with others. By learning how to handle talks with customers, you’ll be able to better understand their needs and deliver the software that they had in mind when they ordered it.

Communication skills are also very important when engaging with clients. Since software development can be a very complex process, you need to learn how to simplify it and explain it clearly to clients. You’ll also need to know how to listen carefully to your clients and ask the right questions with respect to their needs. If you’re considering becoming a freelancer or starting your own business, in particular, these skills will be crucial to your overall success. 

Conclusion

Without having worked previously in software development, it’s difficult to know what the job is actually like. As a result, you may have felt hesitant about beginning a career in the field and taking the necessary steps forward. After reading this article, we hope that you’ll be able to make the decision that’s right for you. We also hope that we cleared up some misconceptions that may have held you back from pursuing an education in software development. Now that you know what software developers actually do, you can decide whether or not you’re ready.

If you’re ready to take the next steps toward becoming a software developer, check out our page and look for a Powered by Woz U partner near you.

Jacob Mayhew

Jacob Mayhew is Chief Executive Officer of Woz U, a technology-based education start-up that is enhancing the Education as a Service model, empowering people with effective and affordable career paths in technology. As CEO, Jacob spearheads the advancement of individualized learning systems with educational technology courses designed by Woz U, which accelerate the professional development of people to prepare them to be ready to work in tech careers and become the innovators of tomorrow.

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