How did you get started?
I graduated with a degree in mathematics. My first real job was working for a newspaper as the company's software engineer. I had to upgrade the database delivery system. It was okay, but after three months, I had maxed out. And the company didn't really know what I could do [next]. I had some difficulties in getting the next job because I hadn't grown at the newspaper; I hadn't learned a lot.
I needed to keep current and learn from other people. I found out that it is important to be around other software developers, people with more experience who can keep you current and mentor you. In fact, I am now filling that role for the more junior developers on our staff.
Where do you hope to go in your career?
I would like to do more of the same stuff I am doing now. I would like to create bigger and better things and design whole systems, but I don't want to do only architecture. I still want to code. I like making things-not processes. To be a development lead would be cool (and it pays better), but I would want to keep developing my skills and to keep learning. I don't want to move into management, but in order to design larger projects, I would have to manage a team of programmers.
What do you see as the future of the industry?
There will continue to be a huge demand for computer programmers. Software will be crucial to every industry - not just your computer, but also your supermarket, your kitchen, etc. The industry is constantly evolving and there are unlimited possibilities for software developers. Software is being integrated into everything and that software needs to be written and maintained.
What advice do you have for others?
Go to a large software company because you will get more respect and more exposure to good people with experience you can learn from. The ideal place would be where you can find a good mentor. Do not take a position where there are no senior level people because you will max out your skills very quickly. Take a job where you will be learning new things and keeping your skills updated.