I’ve been working in IT at OSU as a student for the past 3 years, but more recently, I’ve been taking more of the responsibilities of a developer over the course of this year. Growing into the role as a student developer with my job has been well-timed with my degree in Business Information Systems. My undergraduate studies this past academic year as a senior has involved more software architecture and development leading up to my graduation. The similarities between the work I’ve done for my job and for my degree have been complimentary, allowing me to share skills and techniques between the two disciplines.
Taking classes in a business environment has given me a different prospective on software development for my work. Information systems business classes, besides teaching programming, focused on making sure the outcome of software development is successful and addresses the needs of stakeholders. We were taught to focus on the problem trying to be solved, conceptualize a solution in a non-technical way to stakeholders, and develop measures of success to ensure the outcome isn’t a failure. These skills along with my experience as a developer guide some of the advice I have for students who want to be developers:
- Be able to communicate non-technically when needed. Whether it be a supervisor, customer, or colleague in a different department. Being in a software development role means taking on the work that requires special skills and knowledge unique to you and your team. The ability to propose a better solution to a problem, explain an issue to a stakeholder, or even describing the work being done to someone who isn’t as technically proficient is key. I’ve always believed that being able to teach a topic or skill is a marker of proficiency in that area, and when it comes to software development and IT, being able to communicate something non-technically is a similar marker of proficiency.
- Remember the importance of soft skills like verbal communication, demo/presentation skills, and writing skills. According a survey conducting by , 70% of employers say soft skills are equally important as technical skills for success in a software development career. My experience in IT and software development has taught me the importance of these soft skills. It has always been beneficial for me to keep up with these skills through practice, whether it’s giving a demo at work or a presentation for a class.
- Learn and practice technical skills through projects and practical experience. Learning technical skills is very important, but I would advise aspiring developers to practice and maintain their skills through methods that are demonstrable to employers. Being able to show a coding project or talk about projects accomplished during a job or internship might be required during the interview or application process. The knowledge of development skills serves as a foundation, but being able to demonstrate those skills is important for pursuing a career as a developer.
At the end of the day, good technical skills will be at the core of software development. However, getting in to software development as a career can be difficult without much prior experience. I believe demonstrating the skills above can show employers that someone is able to grow into a developer position to further diversify their technical and soft skills.