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Senior Software Developer, Calbane

Kevin Noonan

Job title
Senior Software Developer
Company
Calbane
Industry
Computer software
Experience
19 Years
Education
  1. Bsc in General Science UCD
  2. Computer Science Major
Favourite subjects in school
Biology and French
The best thing about my job
The satisfaction of creating something out of nothing; that ‘something’ is working computer software which goes out into the world to do a job.

Intense concentration, focus and attention to detail are vital for software development. You can enter the software field from virtually any background, but your best bet would be a science or engineering degree, above all, computer science or electronic engineering. Before you choose this career, learn to code in your spare time. Find out if you like it, if you think you might be good at it and if it’s a career for you.

 

My Main Tasks

To write design documents for a feature or a system; and to write the code and tests to create it; and documentation for other developers to read. The system may be a web application, or mobile app, or a desktop application; in future, it may be a voice-based system, such as a “skill” for Alexa, the virtual assistant from Amazon.

Challenges

What Douglas Crockford called “the abyss”, a place software developers find themselves more often than we care to admit. Something in the system is not working, but the developer doesn’t know why. It may take hours to get to the root of the problem.

Who Influenced Me

I learned to program an eight-bit home computer during my first year at secondary school. It was on loan from a relative. I loved to write computer code and to learn about the machine. I learned several computer languages in my teens.

Work/Life Balance

Work-life balance is generally good, although there may be occasional weekend work as the team approaches a deadline for product release. Most of the time, software developers work office hours, Monday to Friday. And most technology staff can choose to arrive early and leave early, or arrive late and leave late; usually with an option to work from home (say) two days per week.If you work for a startup, staff layoffs may occur, if the firm isn’t hitting its financial targets. It may happen even in a technology giant; as technology evolves, the giant’s offering may go out of favour with its customers. The good news is that, on any given day, there are literally thousands of jobs available in the computer industry in Ireland.If you wish, you can move from (say) developing web applications to mobile apps. By 2020, five billion people will own smartphones. The Internet of Things, voice interfaces, augmented reality and virtual reality are on the verge of going mainstream, with enormous scope for new software.
Some developers progress along a ‘technical career track’ to ‘principal engineer’ or ‘software architect’; others switch to contract work, for better pay and more flexibility; or move into management. If you have an idea for a software business, you can use your skills as a developer to create a prototype and bring a product to market.

Most Useful Aspects of my Education

Crafting software is a combination of different kinds of thinking: linguistic thinking plus design and problem-solving. I have always loved languages. I studied French and Spanish at school (and basic Japanese in third year at college). Mathematical problems at school and college make for good practice. All kinds of games are useful mind-training for problem-solving, from ‘Diplomacy’ to ‘Risk’ to chess, or ‘Magic: The Gathering’. And of course, building lego spaceships of my own design as a child. (No, I don’t have evidence for the significance of the above, merely suspicions.)

Useful Work Experience

Get a summer job, work placement, or internship in a software firm (or in an IT department at a bank, as I did).

Top Tips!

Software development is sedentary work. Obesity is a potential hazard. Choose a sport, or form of exercise, and make it an integral part of your life. Writing software is mind work. Physical exercise is vital for health of mind and body. Mens sana in corpore sano.