Working as a Software Engineer

I have been working as a software engineer for Cleopatra Enterprise for nearly 6 months now, and while this profession and company feel like a straightforward choice to me now, it definitely did not feel that way when I had just graduated.

Let’s face it, there is a wide range of positions for a computer science student to end up. Despite the luxury, this made it quite daunting for me to choose which position to apply for. Certainly, because I did not even know what job to look for exactly to begin with. When doing the master’s in computer science, you are learning a lot of theory, critical thinking and academic writing, but you are mainly learning things for yourself at that point. Quite different from a developer’s role, where you’re often required to operate well in a team and where the theory is not always perfectly executed in practice.

Let’s face it, there is a wide range of positions for a computer science student to end up. Despite the luxury, this made it quite daunting for me to choose which position to apply for. Certainly, because I did not even know what job to look for exactly to begin with. When doing the master’s in computer science, you are learning a lot of theory, critical thinking and academic writing, but you are mainly learning things for yourself at that point. Quite different from a developer’s role, where you’re often required to operate well in a team and where the theory is not always perfectly executed in practice.

When graduating, you are facing your first choice: will you become a researcher and stay in the academic world, tackling complex problems, often from a theoretical perspective, or will you immediately apply your knowledge and build software that will directly be used by others? Obviously, every individual needs to make this choice himself and one choice is not necessarily better than other, but it does need to be the right choice for you.

Before switching to computer science, I obtained a bachelor’s in industrial design engineering. I genuinely enjoyed that study, which allowed me to put creativity in the activity of creating, building and designing products and services. That’s why, even though I enjoyed the theoretical research that I did during my computer science graduation project, I was again more attracted to joining a company as a developer. That allows me to put the theory in practice by really creating a product and seeing it used other people.

Still, there’s plenty of variables left to consider when looking for a dev-job. Besides the job itself, the company also plays an important role in whether you’ll end up liking your job. What kind of software do they develop, what technology is used, how is the corporate atmosphere, are there opportunities to grow, in what field does the company operate, how many employees does the company have? And more relevant than ever: how is the company’s work-from-home policy? Making a list of these questions and have them answered by a very diverse range of companies helped me decide on what kind of job and company suited me best.

I found that start-ups and small companies generally lack the senior supervision that I was looking for, and that very large companies generally lack a flat organization which often results in a more formal atmosphere. In hindsight these findings seem obvious, but I think that many fresh graduates do not know what to expect exactly from a job, especially because it is so different from studying.

I definitely do not regret starting my career at Cleopatra Enterprise. What I like, is that there is already a solid foundation for software we develop, but there is still plenty of room to come up with your own ideas and improvements. Our software is quite complex, because it offers solutions to complex problems for our clients, and that makes it a challenging codebase to work on. We are aiming for high-quality code, which means that I’m surrounded by smart and driven colleagues, so I am learning a lot in a short period of time. That, combined with plenty of growth opportunities, a flat organization, and a serious-but-relaxed atmosphere makes this a fitting job and company to me, and I think an excellent choice as first step in my career as developer. I hope you’ll find a nice position to kickstart your career as well, and of course I hope it will be at Cleopatra Enterprise ;).

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