Fri, 28 Oct 2022

A Day in the Life of a Software Developer  

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“I think a lot of people expect Software Developers to be quiet people who work in dark, dingy offices but that’s not the case. We have a lot of fun on our team. Software development is much more of a collaborative effort than people often expect.” – Kenneth Walker, VertiGIS Software Developer 

Software Developers are an important part of our team here at VertiGIS! From designing and building new product features to supporting customers in maintaining existing applications, they play a large role in advancing the VertiGIS organization.  

We took some time to chat with Kenneth Walker, a Software Developer on the VertiGIS Studio Mobile team in Victoria, Canada, about what it’s like to work as a Developer at VertiGIS. Kenneth dove into what his day-to-day work looks like, provided some advice for people looking to break into tech, and offered some insight into how developer roles (and the tech industry as a whole) are continuing to evolve.   

What does a typical day look like for you as a Software Developer?  

[KW] I’ll get to my computer, boot it up, and get started with the day. Usually, my first tasks will be things like checking my email, checking my Microsoft Teams messages, and making sure there’s no burning fires that need to be dealt with. Our day at VertiGIS usually starts with a daily scrum where we’ll get everyone on the same page about the tasks we have going on and have an opportunity to talk about our works-in-progress. Then it’s right into writing and reviewing code – which is a good portion of my day. Occasionally, we have design meetings, or story refinement meetings where we chat about work details and implementation ideas.  

What are your main responsibilities as a Software Developer?  

[KW] Writing code for features, bug fixes, and a variety of dev-ops-back-end-pipeline-delivery-type stuff. I also do a lot of code review. As part of our development process, I write something and then someone else on my team reviews it and vice versa to make sure everything looks good before we go into testing. Review is definitely a big portion of the job.  

What are some of the skills that you use everyday in your role?  

[KW] The most important everyday skill is definitely problem solving. It’s a very basic skill but being able to think about what’s going on and why things are performing the way they are is crucial. Another important skill is Googling – and I mean that seriously. A lot of what we encounter is unexpected or unknown so being able to do research about different technologies, issues other people have faced, or anything else is invaluable. Every day, I’ll have up to 20 tabs open at one time with product information, code, and technology related things, trying to find answers to the questions I have. Problem solving and researching can take you most of the way when you encounter day-to-day challenges in this role. 

What are some of your favourite tasks at work?  

[KW] Occasionally a development request ticket will come up that’s labeled “Spike”. These are investigation type tickets where there’s a feature that’s wanted but it’s not clear what direction to take to get there and develop it. I try to grab those tickets when I can because I enjoy the exploratory nature of them. It’s a really great opportunity to learn more about things that I’m unfamiliar with.  

For instance, I recently worked on a “Spike” ticket about haptics, which are the types of vibration technology that different devices offer. IOS offers one thing, Android another, and Windows doesn’t offer any sort of haptic technology. I really enjoyed having the opportunity to learn about haptic technologies and the variations there are from device-to-device. I always find it very satisfying to learn new things at work.  

What is one misconception that people often have about working in software development?  

[KW] I think a lot of people expect Software Developers to be quiet people who work in dark, dingy offices but that’s not the case. We have a lot of fun on our team. But more than that– software development is a dynamic process. I’m often checking in with other people on my team, my managers, and colleagues from other teams to get their opinions on the projects that I’m working on. Software development is a much more collaborative effort than people often expect. 

What is the most rewarding part of your job?  

[KW] Solving hard problems. When you’re frustrated by a problem it may not feel rewarding but there’s something really satisfying about gaining the knowledge needed to solve difficult problems. You get to feel a sense of accomplishment when you solve something and there’s usually a nice pay off too like fixing a bug or tidying up some feature. I love working on the hard problems, and at the same time hate them, but the problem-solving process is always really satisfying.  

What advice would you give to someone who is interested in pursuing a career in software development?  

[KW] I’d say to just go for it! Software development is a great career option with lots of opportunities. I’d recommend watching some YouTube tutorials or reading some blogs – the barrier to get into tech right now is lower than it’s ever been. And if you enjoy it, you may also want to consider some more serious education like a degree or a bootcamp. But it’s also important to make sure that you’re pursuing development because it’s something you are actually interested in and not just because you like the idea of the cool places to work or the paycheck that often come with these roles. You need to really enjoy development to get something out of it. From my personal perspective I love the career and I love the work I get to do. It’s really engaging and never boring. I would definitely recommend it as a career if coding or software is something that you are interested in.  

What do you wish someone would have told you before you began your career?  

[KW] I wish someone had told me that software development is not as hard to get into as people expect. You don’t need to be a computing genius or a math whizz to understand how to code. There are foundational skills you need to have but they are all very learnable and attainable. Anyone with a computer can do cool programming tasks. Don’t let the hesitancy about it being a super difficult career path hold you back from pursing it if it’s something you are interested in. 

How do you think the role of “Software Developer” will change over the next 10 years?  

[KW] It’s hard to predict. In general development is always changing. I’m sure in the future there will be new technologies and new paradigms encountered in the role. Right now, we develop for Windows, iOS, and Android but I expect that will change in some capacity in the future. Technology is always changing, and handheld devices are getting a lot more powerful. As these devices get more powerful things will speed up and user experiences will continue to improve. Maybe not in a Software Developer role specifically, but in tech in general, I image we’ll start to see more integrations with things like AI, big data, VR, AR, and Meta. There are definitely new cutting-edge developments in the software world that could introduce big changes into tech overall.  

Are you interested in joining our team at VertiGIS? Check out our careers page to see the roles we have open around the world – both in development and other areas!  

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