What does a software engineer really do? I get asked that question quite a lot. And my answer- well, the short version is; it depends. As an engineering student, I studied various science-related subjects in-depth and received training to do multiple, very different types of tasks. But I chose to work specifically with software development as soon as I got the opportunity to specialize.
Not one day have I regretted my choice. You never become ”done with” or stop learning when working with software because it is genuinely intriguing and often very creative work. Notwithstanding that it is mathematical-focused and, at times, tedious.
The best part of my work is that it generally is project-based, meaning I get to follow the making of the program from finish to start, from scratch to implementation. Naturally, it is not the same for all engineers, but I have been fortunate enough to get to work with a variety of clients throughout my career and have regularly seen the results of what my team built functioning in its intended purpose many years later.
My favorite example of seeing the fruits of my labor is from the beginning of my career. I was employed at a consulting company that concentrated on the up-scaling of different start-ups that focused on developing next-generation electromobility (in other words, making the electric vehicles of tomorrow). I was responsible for overseeing the development of the charge point operator software, which is the software that provides systems for the infrastructure and connections between different chargers and generally is responsible for optimizing their output and function. My primary focus was securing the customer transactions were going to operate flawlessly. In a layman’s term, I was mainly accountable for making the charge point billing work.
I did this by leading a team of my own and collaborating with the staff working to develop the emobility service provider software. It was a hustle; nothing ever seemed to work, and there were tons of complaints. But after endless amounts of all-nights, energy drinks, and bad take-out pizza (a bit stereotypical, I am aware of the irony), it finally did work. And now, every time I charge my car and pull out my card to pay, I think of how my team and I made the transaction possible. I think about how I contributed, no matter that the part may be relatively insignificant, to why thousands of people drive to work every day- and it feels great. Basically- I have a soft spot for my software.