It is no secret that the software industry has been growing constantly for the last few decades. From the obscure mystery of the late 20th century’s programmers, hiding in a dark room writing lines of code on a terminal, to the fresh and young developers coding on their laptops while sitting in beautiful landscapes, the perception of a programmer has changed radically, as well as the profession itself. So much that every major company today employs software engineers to automate their processes, upgrade their systems, and keep the business going smoothly.
A software engineer nowadays has mostly well-established responsibilities, and should work towards fulfilling them. A lot of the way the engineer works depends on the company he/she is working at, as well as the development team involved, and other factors. Some jobs require following a strict set of rules and protocols, while others let you do your job in a way that you see fit, as long as you carry out your work on time. Many things have changed in these last few decades, but the aspect that remains the same is the constant hunger for solving problems, and a never-ending quantity of technologies and tools to do so.
So What is a Normal Day?
As anyone who has a dynamic job such as software development would say: depends on the day. And, as redundant as that sounds, it is true. There are normal days, of course, but much depends on the project you are working on, whether it just started or if you are in the deployment phase. But there are some habits among the developer community (that change depending on where you work and who you work with), and putting them together you get an idea of how a day in the life of a software engineer is:
The day starts with a coffee, a shower, and breakfast. Then it is time to get to work. Whether you work on a team or by yourself as a freelance or an independent contractor, you would have to get your computer started.
If You are Working in a Team
It is common for teams from 5 to about 10 people to work under Agile development, a methodology designed to manage a project development by breaking it up into several phases. As part of the team, you would have a morning meeting to assess progress, to present what you have achieved, what you are planning to do that day, and whatever issues you are facing. Then you would go ahead and work on the task that you should be working on.
The tasks given to every team member are generally according to their strengths, at least good teams tend to do that, and are designed in two-week sprints. So every two weeks you should be changing tasks on a certain part of the project development.
If You Work Alone
Well, this depends a lot on your own process, and whatever client you are working for. But as you go through your career coding and charging as a freelancer or as an independent contractor, then it is logical that you will go developing your own working methods. Freedom and independence are a great factor for freelance software engineers, but keep in mind that it comes at the cost of a constant opportunity seeking, at least in the first months or years.
Whether you are working alone or as part of a team, you will most definitely experience a change in the daily routine either when starting a new project or by ending it. When you are starting a new project you might be induced to write a design document in which you will talk about the project and your strategy to fulfill the requirements for it, as well as a time frame for it. And when the end of the project is in sight, you might dedicate most of your time to rigorous testing, deployment, and fixing whatever bugs could arise from this.
Pros and Cons of Being a Developer
So, easier than a detailed description of a day as a software engineer, in order to decide whether it would be a career you would most enjoy or not, would be to do the old reliable: a pros and cons list.
- Programmers usually make good money, something around a six-figure salary.
- You might only need a computer, a programming book or course, and Google to get started.
- If you are passionate about coding, you could see your job as an extension of a hobby.
- Since software engineers are in such high demand, it is normal that companies might offer more perks than just salary.
- Software engineers are closer than most to working as a freelancer, or starting their own companies.
- Software jobs are not as demographically diverse as other professions.
- Bureaucracy can make progress on a job seem slow, and non-technical management can be a cause of frustration to deal with for programmers.
- As milestones of projects come to an end, the workload can increase, causing long hours of stress.
- The number of new technologies that you might need to learn is ever-increasing.
- If you get into software development for the money but are not passionate about it, you might end up frustrated and disappointed.
Software engineers are usually creative problem-solvers. For those who like a challenge, it can be rewarding, while offering perks and a good sum of money. But keep in mind that it is not always a walk in the park, it has its fair share of stress, long hours, and possible frustrating interactions and discussions. But as long as you like what you do, all of that is just a bump in a road of endless possibilities.