Job Title: Software Engineer
Type of Company: I work for a startup company that is aiming to change the way travelers share their experiences with friends and family.
Education: BA in Computer Science, Hamilton College
Previous Experience: Software Engineer for an HR Company. Designed and implemented a large scale software package for use internally.
Job Tasks: I am responsible for helping to test our software to make sure that it still works after we've made changes to it. By having a series of tests that run just before we save the changes, we can make sure that our users won't run into problems that we didn't realize existed.
I am also responsible for helping to make decisions about what the site will look like, and how people will interact with it. I have people test the site while I watch to see which things make sense, and talk to the team about any changes that we should make.
Early on in the project, we had to make many decisions about how to save the data. There are many different options, and each has advantages and disadvantages. Often, you must decide to make your own job as a programmer a little bit more difficult to sacrifice making things easier for the people using your software.
I do work from home, so no day is typical. Sometimes I meet the other members of my team (there are four of us) at a coffee shop, or at someone's house so that we can help each other in person, and keep the motivation levels high.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of the job is working from home on a project that meshes well with my own interests (travel, writing, computers). Having a flexible schedule is great because I can take a day off when I need to.
The worst part about the job is the very same thing! Sometimes it's hard to stay motivated and get work done with no one watching over you. It's amazing how quickly the day can fly by if you aren't disciplined about your work!
Job Tips: I went to a liberal arts college for what is essentially a technical degree. In the end, I had only a very general knowledge of programming, with few concrete examples of my work. If I had to do it over again, I would work on projects in class (and especially outside of class) that would serve as great "demo reel" material to use when applying for a job.
There are enough stellar programmers out there who don't have degrees that you'll need do be able to do more than show your GPA if you want a really cool job.
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