Paul F.

Software Engineer
Happy to mentor
Happy to be contacted

About me

Paul F.
Music Technology
United Kingdom

My employment

Software Engineer
United Kingdom
Digital and IT services
Medium-size business (50-249 employees)

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A day in the life of a Software Engineer in the United Kingdom

Any code change you make has to be reviewed by your peers so you need to be open to receiving criticism. Likewise, you need to be able to provide feedback in a constructive way when reviewing other peoples' work.

Briefly describe the organisation you work for

A platform to enable people to raise money for good causes

What do you do?

I work within the Fintech team creating and maintaining systems which collect donation information and process payments. This involves writing code and reviewing the work of my colleagues as well as taking part in and running various team meetings.

Reflecting upon your past employment and education, what led you to your current career choice?

I was unsure what I wanted to do when applying for university and opted for Music Technology at York as it was a well-rounded course at a good university that would allow me to keep my options open. I subsequently found that the software projects on my course were the most interesting to me so I pursued that as a career.

Is your current job sector different from what you thought you would enter when you graduated?

I remember thinking that anything to do with finance was very dull when I graduated so would have been surprised to learn that I ended up working on a Fintech team (which is actually very interesting and varied!)

Describe your most memorable day at work

We recently hosted the fundraising page of Captain Tom, which went on to raise more than £30 million for the NHS. Our platform was seeing traffic far in excess of what we normally have to handle and in order to ensure we could keep taking donations lots of people from across the business had to improvise and work together. It was inspiring to see people collaborating so well in such testing circumstances.

Are there any challenges associated with your job?

Any code change you make has to be reviewed by your peers so you need to be open to receiving criticism. Likewise, you need to be able to provide feedback in a constructive way when reviewing other peoples' work.

In software there are often numerous ways to tackle the same problem, each with their own trade-offs. You need to analyse the options enough to make an informed decision but have the confidence to trust that decision once it's been made and proceed accordingly.

What’s your work environment and culture like?

I work in an office which has a casual dress policy, and have done in all my jobs. Normally I come in to the office every weekday and sit at my own desk next to the other developers on my team. I work in Fintech (Financial Technology) which has 5 developers but we have around 6 other similarly sized teams of engineers so there's a large community of knowledgeable people to bounce ideas off of. I would say I have a good work-life balance with a fair degree of flexibility. As long as I am available for meetings and get my work done I can adjust my hours as needed within reason.

What extracurricular activities did you undertake at university and what transferable skills did you develop through these?

I volunteered as a STYC (Second and Third Year Contact) in my second year which allowed me to help new students socialise and settle in to their new home. This was good practice in communicating with people I didn't know well which is regularly useful at work.
I also worked on personal programming projects on the side and outside of term time to get more experience and learn new technologies.

What would you like to do next with your career?

I'm currently working on being promoted to a Senior Software Engineer

What top tips do you have for York students preparing for today’s job market and life after graduation?

Put together something that you can show prospective employers, preferably easy to access and run e.g. a simple API with its source code available on Github.
Practice - the best way to get good at programming is to do it. That way you get a sense of the mindset required and learn the types of challenges that tend to crop up.

What topics from students are you happy to answer questions on?

Life as a software engineer, working in different industries

Next steps...

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