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Building a career in Software Engineering: Expert tips

Want to land a career in software engineering? This blog post is for you! We dive into the key takeaways from a talk by Malcolm R. Kente, Engineering Manager at Ask Phill, on building a successful career in the field. Learn about mastering the fundamentals, identifying your strengths, and building your network.
Malcolm R. Kente Engineering Manager at Ask Phil, tech talk at Le wagon Amsterdam, Netherlands on Building a Career in Software Engineering.

Are you interested in building a career in software engineering? It’s a field with exciting opportunities, but it also requires dedication and continuous learning.

Recently, Le Wagon Amsterdam hosted a talk by Malcolm R. Kente, Engineering Manager at Ask Phill. Malcolm shared valuable insights on how to build a successful career in software engineering. This blog post summarizes his key takeaways and recommendations, including practical tips you can implement right away.

Master the basics

A strong foundation is key for any aspiring software engineer. Here’s what Malcolm highlighted as essential:

  • Technical skills
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Organizational and time management skills
  • Teamwork
  • Continuous learning

Tips on mastering the basics:

  • Focus on one thing at a time: Start with the fundamentals and gradually build your knowledge and skills.
  • For Le Wagon students: Make sure you graduate with a solid understanding of the core concepts covered in the program.
  • Build a portfolio with valuable projects:
    • Standard projects: Build to-do list applications or clones of real websites/apps.
    • Problem-solving projects: Help friends and family with projects that showcase your technical skills.
    • Targeted projects: Work on projects that utilize the tech stack of your desired workplace.
  • Contribute to open-source projects: Gain experience, learn from others, and build your network.

Build on your strengths

Understanding your strengths is vital for career development. Malcolm suggests:

  • Make a habit of doing self-reflection exercises.
  • Focusing on past successes to identify strengths.
  • Seek feedback from peers or mentors, which can provide valuable insights into your unique abilities and areas for improvement.

Practical tips to build on strengths:

  • Do a self-reflection exercise during the week.
  • Here are 3 suggestions to get you started:
    • Personal strengths mapping: Create a ‘Strengths Map’. On a large piece of paper, draw a map or tree. Label each branch (or region on the map) with a different aspect of your life (e.g., career, relationships, hobbies). Then, spend some time thinking about your strengths. For each strength you identify, place a symbol or a word on the branch where it has had the most impact. For added creativity, use colors, drawings, or magazine cutouts to visually represent these strengths. This visual representation will help you see how your strengths play a role across different areas of your life.
    • Life lessons timeline: Craft a ‘Timeline of Lessons’. Use a long roll of paper or several sheets taped together. Draw a line representing the past year and mark significant events along it. Next to each event, write down a lesson you learned or how it impacted you. You can use different colors or symbols to represent various emotions or types of lessons. This activity helps you visualize your growth and the pivotal moments that contributed to it.
    • Fulfillment collage: Create a ‘Fulfillment Collage’. Gather magazines, photos, printouts, or any other materials that resonate with you. On a large poster board, start placing images and words that represent areas of your life where you feel most fulfilled. It could be pictures symbolizing relationships, career achievements, personal hobbies, etc. As you build your collage, think about why these aspects bring you joy and satisfaction. The visual and hands-on nature of this activity can offer deeper insights into what genuinely makes you happy and fulfilled.
  • Get feedback from peers or instructors within the next week on their strengths and areas for improvement.

Build your network

Building a strong network is crucial in software engineering. Malcolm recommends to:

  • Actively participate in tech meetups, similar to the one we hosted at Le Wagon, these events are great for building connections.
  • Use platforms like LinkedIn to network professionally and explore career opportunities.

Tips on practical things to do to Build on strengths:

  • Search upcoming tech events in Amsterdam
  • Explore platforms like Meetup to find more events

Additional online resources

By following these tips and leveraging the provided resources, you can take the first steps towards building a fulfilling career in software engineering.

Want to learn more about software engineering?

Le Wagon offers a full-stack web development bootcamp that can equip you with the skills and knowledge you need to launch your career in this exciting field.

Ready to apply for our course? Click here and start your tech career!

Questions about your career path? Contact one of our advisors to get personalized help.

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