How to Get Your First Software Engineer Job in 7 Steps
Software engineers are the professionals who make most of the online world possible. They undertake the daunting, but rewarding, tasks of designing and building applications that we enjoy online. As such, it’s both a lucrative and attractive job.
However, breaking into this industry can be a challenge. Many organizations have high standards for their software engineers, and there’s plenty of competition out there in the labor pool.
That’s why today we’re going to take a look at the steps you can take to get your first software engineering job, the hardest part of the journey.
But first, let’s take a look at what software engineering entails.
What is Software Engineering?
Software Engineering can be considered any technical field which helps design, develop, build, and test computer software. It requires a strong understanding of computer science, various engineering skills, and in-depth technical knowledge. Software engineers often work as part of a team of developers to produce new and innovative software.
There is a common misconception that software engineers inherently equate to programmers. However, the position is much more complex than that. Whereas a software engineer does require an understanding of programming languages, their main daily tasks involving code are focused on writing code and creating the framework for software that a developer will in turn build upon.
Software engineering is more than coding. It’s about collaborating as a member of a team, helping guide the final product of a given software. That means software engineers require a mix of additional skills including teamwork, pair programming, and general problem-solving.
Starting on the software engineer career typically begins as a junior software engineer, the entry-level position in this field. Here you will work to build software, hammer out code, and fix bugs in said code. From here, you will likely progress to a senior software engineer, performing many of the same tasks while coaching entry-level developers.
Senior software engineers eventually become lead developers who coordinate entire teams while still writing code. This will continue onward, providing you continue to develop your skills, to the top of the career ladder to chief technology officer, managing an entire organization’s technical needs.
But first, you need to get that entry-level job. It can seem daunting, but developing the right skills will get your foot in the door. And once you get that foot in the door, it’s only a matter of time before you’re climbing that ladder yourself.
How to Get Your First Software Engineer Job in 7 Steps
Getting your first software engineer job won’t be easy, but with the right steps, you’ll get there. In this guide, we’re going to look at every step you need to take from choosing your choice of engineering role to applying for the position. Along the way, you’ll learn how to get an entry-level software engineering job.
For additional reading, you can join the conversation on how to get a software engineering job on Reddit.
Step 1 – Decide What Type of Role You Want
There are many types of software engineers. Before you can begin on your journey, you should consider which role you want. To help you do just that, we’ve compiled a list of some of the different types of software engineer roles.
- Front-End Engineer – Front-end software engineers specialize in the development of user interfaces – the UI. These are the visual elements including layout and aesthetic that the end user will interact with. As a Front-End Engineer, you can expect to work with code that runs across different user devices, browsers, and operating systems while creating responsive applications.
- Back-End Engineer – As the name implies, back-end engineers work on the parts of applications that the end user doesn’t see. This includes the underlying logic and overall performance of a piece of software. In this role, you will find yourself designing and implementing the core logic that runs entire applications while working with Application Programming Interfaces or APIs.
- DevOps Engineer – Unlike Front-end or Back-end engineers, the DevOps engineer’s role revolves around the technologies necessary to develop, integrate and administer back-end software. That’s to say, they focus on application infrastructure such as databases and servers.
- Security Engineer- Security engineers specialize in creating systems and procedures to test the security of software systems. As such, they look to exploit and fix any security flaws in a given software to protect it from malicious intent. These engineers are more commonly known as “white hats” or “ethical hackers.”
- Full-Stack Engineer – You can think of this role as a combination of both front-end and back-end software development. Full-stack engineers provide the skills to create a fully functional piece of software.
Each of these roles is unique in its tasks. As such, take this step into serious consideration. An entry-level position in any of these roles will be the first rung of the ladder in your software engineering career.
However, if you’re looking for the easiest role to start with, consider becoming a front-end engineer. These professionals often work in coding languages such as Java to create appealing user interfaces, a well-known coding language that’s friendly to newcomers. Plus, learning front-end coding will give you the opportunity to see direct, visual results of your code.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for a challenge. Start with cybersecurity. This role may be the hardest role to break into when you’re just starting out. Cybersecurity software engineers depend on an in-depth and advanced understanding of software and coding languages.
Step 2 – Get the Relevant Qualifications and Training
Once you’ve decided on a direction, you need to develop your qualifications. That means pursuing training and other resources to help you get that entry-level engineering position. So, what should you learn to get a software job?
Well, the answer to that question is not simple. Software engineers need a diverse set of skills, and that requires a fair amount of education, training, or a combination of the two. Regardless, you will need to develop your understanding of coding languages, database knowledge, debugging knowledge, and similar technical skills starting out as a software engineer.
This is best done by attending various coding boot camps or even pursuing a bachelor’s in computer science. However, the cost of an advanced education can be a major roadblock to many. As such, this brings is us to a very common question: how to get a job as a software engineer without a degree?
It is possible without a degree, but it’s certainly not easy. You’ll need to be a self-starter, ready to learn everything you need on your own. There are many resources available online to do this.
Here’s a list of some of those resources:
- Free Code Camp
- Learn Git Branching
Beyond these, consider pursuing an MBA for Information Technology. An MBA will not only help you understand your role in a business but put you in a position to climb the corporate ladder much faster than your peers. That’s not even to mention that, according to U.S. News, technology is one of the top three fields that pay the highest salaries for MBA holders.
It’s only a matter of the right MBA program for you. Quantic’s MBA program, for example, has a higher level of student satisfaction than both Harvard and INSEAD, and provides an innovative curriculum tailored specifically for early-career learners like yourself. Check it out if you’re interested in pursuing an education with an active learning method and strong networking opportunities.
Step 3 – Get the Relevant Experience
The next step on your journey is acquiring experience. To this end, let’s explore how to get a software engineering job with no experience. This will be of the biggest hurdles in your software engineering journey.
To this end, you’ll need to continue working on your coding skills. Along the way, pick up personal projects or coding gigs to add to your portfolio. In the process, you should also be looking to build your network and online presence to show potential employers that you have the right skills. Certifications and applying to internships will also help.
During this process, continue applying to entry-level positions that will help you build professional experience in the end, and ultimately help you climb the ladder to your dream job.
Now, how long it will take to get a software engineer job with no experience will highly depend on where you are right now. It could be a matter of years if you’re starting from absolute ground zero – no skills, no network, and no experience. However, with perseverance and the right programs, you could cut this down to a matter of months. Quantic’s MBA program has helped thousands of students to get jobs in major tech companies including Microsoft, Google, and Deloitte.
Step 4 – Write a Winning Resume
As with any other job, you’ll need a good resume to even catch the attention of recruiters.
Start with the structure of your resume. You’ll want to lead with your most recent job followed by your most relevant previous positions. In terms of format, use professional fonts, spacing, and ensure your resume is in the format specified by your potential employer. Should no format be listed, PDF is your safest choice.
A stellar resume will highlight your strong points. Showcase your most relevant skills at the top of your resume according to the position you’re applying to. To this end, take the job posting into careful consideration and identify the keywords and skills the company is looking for. This will allow you to tailor your resume to the position.
With a good resume and a little luck, you’ll be invited to the interview stage.
Some strong software engineer interview tips include:
- Familiarize yourself with the company – Many tech companies have preferred coding languages in which they work. Ensure you are familiar with the ones your chosen company prefers. Your interviewer will likely ask you questions relevant to the language.
- Study potential coding questions – On the subject of coding, consider the common challenges you may face in this position. Recruiters often use these as screening questions to test your knowledge.
- Prepare for other assessments – Every software engineering job is going to be more than coding. Be prepared to answer questions regarding your communication skills and other soft skills.
Step 5 – Network with Other Professionals
We’ve all heard it before, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”
This old adage survives for good reason – it’s often true. Many new software engineers find themselves in their position as someone has vouched for them with their employer. As such, network with software engineers and other aspiring software engineers whenever possible.
This is another benefit of pursuing an MBA. Quantic, for example, puts you in a host of high-ambition, highly-skilled individuals looking to advance in their careers that you can rely on for the rest of your professional career.
Step 6 – Attend Job Fairs
Job fairs offer excellent opportunities for meeting potential employers in person and yet another opportunity to network with others in your field. It also gives you a chance to share your portfolio and resume directly with employers and directly communicate your interest in any open positions they may have.
Overall, a job fair is a great opportunity for career development, even if you’re just getting started.
Step 7 – Apply, Apply, Apply
So, you’ve developed your experience. You’ve earned qualifications. You’ve networked. You’ve done everything we’ve discussed here today. It’s time to apply, and don’t stop applying while continuing to work on yourself. With perseverance, you will find yourself in an entry-level software engineer position.
Kickstart Your Career With Quantic
As we’ve discussed, getting your first software engineer job is no easy task, but it’s certainly not impossible. With the right tools and determination, it’s not a matter of if you get the job. It’s when you get the job.
Looking for an edge over the other applicants?
An online MBA from Quantic will show employers that you’re more than a software guru, you’re a business professional. Apply today.