Wait, what do you actually get paid to do?
If you follow me on Instagram then you know that I program as part of my job. “Programmer” is a vague description at best because there are so many jobs and job descriptions that fall under that title.
If you know me in real life then you probably know that I work for a consulting firm in Dallas but might not totally understand what that means.
Let me definitely clear this up: how I got where I am, and what I do on a day-to-day basis.
My career path (starting from college):
- At university I studied Computer Science with an emphasis in Software Engineering as well as Psychology, Russian, and Chinese. I have bachelor degrees in both Computer Science and Psychology
- After studying abroad for two summers – one of which involved an internship at the New Economic School of Moscow doing a User Experience (UX) analysis – I figured I had to get an internship between my junior and senior year somewhere in the United States
- I had no real idea of what company I wanted to work for (or even what kind) but I knew I liked doing web development that helped people make their businesses better and more efficient. I was pretty sure I’d just end up being a freelance developer in Europe somewhere for the rest of my life
- I found Credera almost totally by accident at a college career fair. It’s a full-service consulting firm with less than 300 people that focuses heavily on technology solutions
- Credera gave me an internship for the summer of 2015, and it. was. phenomenal. I did custom software development for a real client and worked with some incredible people
- They offered me a full time job after my internship, and after a week of existential crisis (“Maybe I just want to join the circus”) I gave them an emphatic “OF COURSE”
- I have now been working at Credera for a little over a year and am incredibly happy where I’m at (no, they do not pay me to say that)
What I actually do for work:
- My job title is officially “Consultant” because everyone at Credera is a consultant of some sort
“But Johna! I thought you were a software developer? What do you mean you’re a consultant?”
- I’m a consultant that develops software, but I also help people make decisions regarding what software to use (or help them estimate how long building things will take). I’ve found that most people don’t really understand what consultants do because there are so many versions of consulting, so saying “software developer” describes what I do 40 hours of my week
- I’m in a practice called Integration and Data Services (IDS) which does custom software development based on open stack technologies
- Everyone in IDS is expected to be a competent full-stack developer, but people usually have areas of expertise. Mine is turning out to be super-dynamic front-end templating.
- All of our work is project-based, and every project is a little (or very) different – some are short, some are long, some have small teams, some have giant teams, some work with client developers, some are just with us, etc. etc. I like to say that being a technology consultant is kind of like my dream of being a freelancer except I get a steady paycheck and have health insurance
- I’ve personally never been on a project from the very beginning (all three projects I’ve worked on I’ve started 3 months to a year in) so I’ve never had the opportunity to have a say in what technologies the project uses from the beginning, I mostly just get thrown in the deep end and get to learn the technologies and the code base very quickly (and I love that, it’s super challenging)
- When you’re on a team for a development project you’ll often also have people who aren’t developers on the team that might work more closely with the project owners to gather requirements (I still talk to the client, but most of my time is spent actually developing and not trying to sort out the strategic details). That means it’s important for me to know how to communicate not only with developers, but the non-technical people who are invested in the project being a success
- I’m also involved with recruiting and diversity initiatives within the company. These are things I’m passionate about outside of software development, so it’s cool that I get the chance to integrate soft-skill “fun stuff” into my day job
How I spend my time:
- About 80-90% of my week is doing development of some sort. The type of development depends on the project I’m on and my place on the team
- The other 10% is split between the other things I’m involved in (like diversity initiatives, recruiting, on-boarding people, studying for certifications, etc.)
- Most of the time 8.5 hour days are my norm – because I have semi-flexible hours I will occasionally work at home to make up time or a coworker who’s working late themselves might ask me a question so I’ll hop on my computer to answer it
“8.5 hour days? But Johna, your Instagram makes you look like you’re working 12 hours a day!”
- Because my time is “billable” to clients it means that what I spend time on is what makes my company money. 99% of the time I don’t take pictures at work because when I’m at work I’m working and focusing on… well.. working.
- I do like to spread out my work-week to include the weekend because it means I can leave a little bit earlier on weekdays, but I also make time to do all of the other things I enjoy. Rest assured then when I’m actually working 12 hours days, I’m not posting on Instagram at all
I studied Computer Science in college and had a phenomenal consulting internship that turned into my full-time job.