Becoming a Software Developer

Our MD Andrew provides some top tips

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Company Director Andrew Matthews

What are the Benefits of an Apprenticeship in Software Development?

Recently we've welcomed two new Apprentice Software Developers to our team, Patrick and James. We're thrilled to offer this opportunity to two bright and promising talents starting out on their career path.

As an accomplished self-taught Software Developer our Company Director, Andrew Matthews, believes that learning on the job has many benefits. That Software Development Apprenticeships should be more widely encouraged.

Here, Andrew shares some advice for budding Software Developers considering an Apprenticeship.

Starting Out

When it comes to working in the world of bespoke software development, there is much to learn. Much to know; much to remember and adapt to. Training can come in the form of formal education, workshops, course books, online tutorials.

However, there's nothing quite like working regularly as a part of a bespoke software development team. Side by side with experienced software developers, who are constantly creating software applications, and problem-solving day in and day out.

In the UK within the last twelve months the Department of Education has launched a campaign to encourage more SME's to take on apprenticeships. From working with our local college, who launched their Software Developer Technician Apprenticeship course in 2017, we know that there is a growing demand for this type of training amongst school leavers.

An amazing 75% of our development team started out as an Apprentice. Why? Because they were eager to get their career kick-started. They wanted to be a part of the industry they love; in the mix rather than just on the edge. They also quite liked the idea of training for free, earning a living, gaining their independence (having a bit extra to splurge on whizzy computer stuff probably helped too).

Our apprentices have a minimum of 20% of their week learning away from the office (predominantly at college) and the rest of the time they are part of our team. Some days they are creating software applications for internal use. Other times they are shadowing our experienced Software Developers on larger, complex projects. Always learning; always progressing. Being exposed to a wide range or projects, applications and technologies.

Qualities Over Qualifications

For some time now, I've wondered if some talented people are being put off pursuing a software development career because of the advice being offered on reputable recruitment sites.

The terms 'essential' and 'imperative' are used to impart that you must have an industry standard recognised qualification before you can apply for a role in a software development company. Involving at least three years of full-time higher education. As if that is your only option.

Sure, principles and theories are great, important even. If that's what helps you to understand the possibilities and to gain confidence then absolutely embark upon a degree course at University. However, in my fifteen years' experience there are qualities you need as a Software Developer that are best honed on the 'shop floor'.

Some top qualities that are learnt on the job, which are integral to making it as a successful Software Developer, include:

  • how pragmatically you approach problems

  • how personable you are at building partnerships with clients

  • how you communicate with your team

  • how you create unique software experiences

  • how you engage with the user

Don't get me wrong, employers are unlikely to take on anyone without a relevant skill set. To become an entry level Software Developer as part of an Apprenticeship training programme, you will need to demonstrate problem solving skills, an aptitude for maths, a real interest in technology, as well as analytical thinking.

You will also need to demonstrate a true passion for the industry, and have some career goals in mind. Perhaps you want to specialise in data security, or in web application development. The clearer your vision, the more your employer can help you progress in the right direction.

Learning Your Craft

When it comes to working in a software development business you can never know enough. Software Developers never stop building their skill set. In an ever-changing technology environment, you've got to have a thirst for knowledge.

Your brain is very unlikely to stop whirring and wondering. Being curious and inquisitive will serve you well. Thanks to the vast library of cyber space, knowledge can be constantly developed and topped up.

Understanding the theory behind programming languages and practices is important. In my business, I often refer colleagues to books published many moons ago (back when I was starting out!) so they can understand the core foundations of a particular programming language.

However, career progression is not all about how much you know. It's what you do with what you know. Applying what they have learnt, putting theory into practice, is something our Apprentices are able to do on a daily basis.

The satisfaction gained from being involved in the development of working software that is core to a client's business; that is making a difference somewhere in the world, is second to none.

Thinking Outside the Box

I know, I know. Software developers are not always renowned for their free-flowing creative juices. Yet to make it as an accomplished Software Developer, I truly believe you need to think outside of the box. To be inventive, and innovative in your thinking.

Particularly when you're working in a bespoke development environment, you will be creating original, distinctive products. Coming up with ideas that make business' function better.

For that, it's important that you look beyond the technical aspect of the software architecture, and the coding language. To consider how the software could be groundbreaking for the end user. Learning about user behaviours, and how you can better their software experience is something that can only truly be gained from working experience

Becoming a Software Developer is an accomplishment no matter your route.

Whether you choose to take up a course of study, or to become an Apprentice in a software company, there is no right or wrong platform. Either way you are learning your craft.

Each and every development you work on will be unique. You will learn as you go. You will be challenged. You will be part of an industry that is making waves. Good for you. There's no day like today to start making your mark.

Here at the Clever Software Group we are passionate about people. We pride ourselves on offering opportunities to people with raw talent and passion for technology.

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