Aaron C.

Software Engineering
Happy to mentor
Happy to be contacted

About me

Aaron C.
Electronics
Electronic Engineering with Music Technology Systems
Taught Postgraduate
Derwent
2005
United Kingdom

My employment

Software Engineering
Apple
United Kingdom
Large business (250+ employees)
2017

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

How I looked for work

A few years ago I decided I wanted to work for one of the big tech companies, I was working as a programmer in the VFX industry at the time. Essentially they (Google, Amazon, Apple, Facebook etc) all have fairly similar recruitment processes. The one big tip I got was to use referrals - find someone you know (or make friends with them on LinkedIn) and get them to refer you internally at the company. They get so many applicants all the time, you stand a much better chance at getting your CV in front of the right person if you have someone in the company recommend you.

How I found out about the job

Personal contacts

The recruitment process

The book 'Cracking the Coding Interview' has a great section about the interview process.. also there are Youtube channels from Google and Facebook that detail the whole thing and give example questions they ask and so on. It's a long process and quite hard work, preparation helps a lot!

Also if you can, try to get interviews lined up with multiple companies, just for practice! I used to do coding questions on my commute in a notebook as practice too.

My career goals when I graduated

To be honest I never wanted to work in technology when I graduated... I turned down a programming job and a consulting graduate scheme to focus on doing music.

My career history

After graduating I worked as a music producer and mix engineer for a few years, played in a band and so on. It was great fun, but not a great career choice ;)

Eventually I moved down to London and worked for a record label, that went bust so I finally decided to make use of my technical skills and went to work as a programmer for a visual effects company.

I worked on various projects for a few years: lots of the marvel movies and star wars and so on. I made a few contacts at technical conferences and eventually decided to try and apply to work at one of the big tech companies.

Working at Apple I've been both an engineer and an engineering manager and worked on a few different projects.

What has helped my career to progress

Making contacts, meeting people!

Courses taken since graduation

various things on coursera.

What surprised me about my career so far

I never really thought I'd work in tech... it's fun though!

Where I hope to be in 5 years

Hopefully still here...

My advice to students considering work

Try everything, join all the societies and have a go. You'll meet people and do things which later might be useful, even if you don't realise it at the time.

Always be open to new things, sometimes you don't always end up doing what you expected, but that's not always a bad thing!

Do things! Whether it's writing an app, making a short film, writing a blog, organising charity events.. whatever your thing is.. if you do it and do it well it makes you stand out from the crowd, even if it's nothing to do with your chosen field. You never know where it might lead!

My advice about working in my industry

Buy 'Cracking the Coding Interview' and read it! It's not as long as it looks (there's a tone of example code in there which makes it look really thick).

Contacting me

I'm happy to answer any questions and mentor anyone looking to work in technology generally

What I do

I build software that powers Apple's services (think iCloud, Siri etc).

Day to day I write a lot of code, debug systems and so on. There's also meetings like standups, design sessions and catching up with people around projects and ideas.

Skills I use and how I developed them

Day to day I do a lot of engineering work, fluency in a programming language is essential as are general algorithms and data structure knowledge. There's also a fair bit of refactoring and crafting that goes into the systems to ensure things are scalable and robust.

As I didn't study computer science, I took some courses on Coursera a few years after graduating (I can recommend the Algorithms and Data Structures courses from Standford on there.. it's free if you don't take the exams!) - that helped me a lot. Practice is also important.. a lot of the things I've learnt through doing: seeing what works and what doesn't over time!

The book 'Clean Code' was also incredibly useful one I was comfortable as a programmer.

What I like most

I get to work on cutting edge technology and products in the hands of millions of people all over the planet, it's challenging and fun.

What I like least

Seeing how the sausage is made... it kind of takes the shine off once you know how it all works ;)

Next steps...

If you like the look of Aaron’s profile, the next steps are down to you! You can send Aaron a message to find out more about their career journey. If you feel you would benefit from more in-depth conversations, ask Aaron to be your mentor.

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