How to Get Started as a Software Developer

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The world has become digitized, and it will only become more interconnected as more appliances are made “smart,” and the internet of things expands to encompass even more of our lives. The potential is massive, the business opportunities are limitless, and behind all of this innovation are software engineers and developers.  

Try Out Programming for Yourself 

The first step is to understand if programming and software creation are even concepts that you are interested in. The options to learn were fairly limited in the past unless you just dove right in to try to make programs yourself. Today there are a range of tools available to you, including educational games that will help you understand the basics and work out if software development is a passion. 

There is a lot of frustrating aspects to being a software developer. However, you need to be happy to check out the issues in code and also need to be able to wrap your head around the pragmatic approach necessary in coding and software development. 

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You do not need to become an expert on your own, however. Once you decide that software development and programming are right for you, you will want to look into education. 

Pursuing Your Education in Computer Science 

The ideal way to become an expert in programming and computer science is, of course, to start from your undergraduate degree onwards. You don’t need to take that much time off work, of course, and after your undergraduate degree can even save money by moving home and continuing with a Computer Science Masters online degree from there. 

Starting with a BSc in Computer Science 

If you want to become a software developer, one of the best ways to get started is with a BSc in Computer Science if you want to expand your foundation, minor in a related field like business or even design, so that you can combine your abilities to set yourself apart from other graduates. 

Specializing with an MSc in Computer Science 

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You have two options when it comes to an MSc in Computer Science. If you opt to go into computer science in your bachelor’s, you will be furthering and specializing in your skillset. On the other hand, if you took a similar degree that did also include some foundational computer science courses, then you can once again take the MSc in Computer Science and start specializing, though there may be additional foundational credits you will need to earn. 

The only difference is how long your MSc in Computer Science takes, but as you can take it remotely and 100% online, you can easily choose the best educator, and stay at home to save or even take one course at a time and work while being enrolled in your degree. 

Furthering Your Education from There 

Degrees are foundations. They teach you what you need to succeed by the time you graduate. Considering how fast the digital world is changing and how much innovation has been witnessed in the last ten years, much less how much computers and programming has changed since the first personal computer; it becomes apparent why ongoing training is essential for your career as a developer. 

When looking for work, always ask for this further training to be included in your benefits. After all, it is in the best interest of your employer, so having them sponsor events, conferences, and even short courses to stay on top of updates and new topics in your field is something of interest to both of you. 

What to Watch Out for When Job Hunting 

Getting your first job can and always feel like something of a struggle. You do not have professional experience, so the only thing you can showcase is your degree and your capstone experience project. The secret is, however, is that this is enough. There are millions of job openings for computer programmers and software developers, and not enough experts available. 

The only thing you need to be aware of is that they often sound over the top when it comes to IT job listings. This is because they ask for the world when they know they are not going to get it. So, apply anyway, and always be upfront about what you can do. 

Companies want to, ideally, hire one person who can do it all when no one can. This does not mean you should not apply, just that you need to be frank with what you can and will be doing and the value of your work. They do not know what to expect, so tell them. Confidence will go far. 

How to Stay at the Top 

The best way to work your way into the highest wage bracket is to change employers every few years. The best time to negotiate a new salary that better reflects your value is at the start of a new position. Not only that, but top employers are going to be more impressed if you work your way up into increasingly prestigious businesses rather than working your way to the top of a medium-sized business. 

Stay until you feel comfortable and that you have learned all that you can, then look for new, exciting opportunities that help you reach the next step. 

Tip: When negotiating your salary, always remember that you are not being paid for the hours you put in or the effort. You are being paid for the expertise and knowledge you bring to your work. If you know what you are doing and have spent years both on your degrees and furthering your education to stay at the top, you are being paid for that experience, not just the working hours you put in. 

Tips for Networking 

There are many incredible opportunities out there for software developers. Unfortunately, the best likely will not be advertised on a job board. For example, many software developers have the potential to create a program that an entire business can revolve around. If you do not have a business background, however, it can feel like a pipe dream. By networking, you can find someone who matches well with you, who you trust, and who has that necessary background to help you launch your software idea into a business.

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