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How to Prepare for a Career in Software Development Industry from Entry Level to Experienced Pro

As a follow up to a recent blog “Software Development Industry Trends and the Skills You Need to Keep Up,” we present information on how to prepare for careers in the industry no matter if you’re just planning to enter the field or you’re a seasoned professional.

We tapped Jonathan Biguenet to share his advice on how individuals can best position themselves to find a job in the software development industry. Jonathan is Lead Software Engineer at New Orleans-based LookFar Labs, one of the region’s leading software development companies, helping businesses at every stage of the lifecycle innovate and grow through technology.

Following the format of the first article, we’ll take a look at four sectors within the software design industry: User Experience/User Interface, Client-side Technologies, Server-side Technologies and The Internet of Things (IOT). Below, Jonathan shares what the team at LookFar Labs “looks for” in potential new hires.

User Experience/User Interface: Although these terms can mean different things to different people, our interpretation and our adoption of these two very important segments are as follows:

UX  or “user experience” is the analysis of user motivations and overall goals to inform the design of an experience a person has interacting with a product, whether it be a mobile app, web app, tech enabled business process, or even a simple website. A good UX designer must have empathy for the user, a deep understanding of user-centered design (UCD), and strong analytical skills.

UI or “user interface”, takes its cue from UX and helps to get to a more granular level of how a user will be interacting with individual screens and elements within a screen. Good UI is achieved when the designer can easily explain and illustrate how the UI interactions are being built to ultimately satisfy the UX objectives & goals.

Both positions require familiarity with products like Sketch and Invision and experience with basic front-end languages. HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript are a plus.

Client-side Technologies: This sector encompasses the technology that drives the functionality of websites and the most common role associated with this sector is front-end software engineer. Biguenet mentioned that newcomers to the field need to be familiar with JavaScript and experience with native mobile code is a big plus. He said that a key sign of their skill level is being able to turn a picture or sketch into an actual app, and he would request project samples illustrating this talent. For more experienced professionals, he looks for the performance issues of code they have written. “I want to see if the code is easily readable,” said Biguenet. “When animations run does it slow down the whole app? Do they know how to put in processes or threads and do they know how to separate the UI code from the functional code?”

Server-side Technologies: The most common role associated with this sector is back-end software engineer. Here, understanding databases and database optimization is key. Both entry level and experienced personnel should have familiarity with Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, as well as knowledge of algorithm efficiency of searching and sorting. Biguenet believes that although serverless technology is a trend, he still prefers someone who is skilled at traditional backend programming. Advanced professionals is this sector should have in-depth experience with algorithms and a thorough understanding of scaling systems to run with many users.

Internet of Things: Biguenet explained that IOT is a subcategory of robotics featuring items that interact with sensors, actuators or anything producing some sort of motion or change. Those seeking to enter or advance in this specialized field would need to know Python as well as some of the older programming languages such as C++. Routine knowledge of electrical engineering to understand how the sensors work and the info they send back to the computer is also helpful.

“No matter in what area you want to work, a logical approach to problems with demonstrable results is critical,” explained Biguenet. “How do you think about it and how do you test? Anybody can be taught the syntax of the language, but to be able to look at a problem and know how to attack it is more valuable than anything. Attitude also goes a long way and we work fast, so the ability to work collaboratively is vital.”

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