Many people believe that a software engineer is someone who writes code and fixes bugs all day long. While this is true to an extent, a great software engineer is someone that plans and designs structures and lifecycles from start to finish and has excellent communication with different stakeholders. It’s a challenging role that tests your ability to deliver a sufficient solution to a customer and end-users of a system.

More often than not, you will run into challenging projects that test your skills as a software engineer. This may be because of limited resources or time, or even inexperienced team members that need extra guidance from seniors. Regardless of what reason it is, it’s key that you understand and learn from these challenges to grow your career.

Here are the most important lessons I’ve learned dealing with difficult projects and how they’ve shaped the software engineer I am today

Create a plan
Before immersing yourself in a project, you need structured planning. Not only should you set a deadline for when tasks need to be completed, but you should also break down all the requirements and explicitly define the responsibilities and roles on the project. Your plan needs to be communicated and explained to everyone, including the internal team and other third-party or customer teams, to ensure that everyone is on the same track.

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It’s important that every single developer has a plan for the task they are working on. It’s ideal to have a clear plan from the start and drafted on a timely basis. Although it can be tedious, creating a plan also gives you the ability to shuffle around your activities based on your top priorities, without losing track of other things

Managing risk
A key factor in planning is risk management. You need to identify possible risks and solutions to mitigate them to save enormous amounts of time in the future. By seeing and understanding what risks may pop up, it will help your project move smoothly and benefit the final outcome

Skills and attitude

Lastly, a big part of being a great software engineer is the skills and attitudes you carry to your team. The ones that I value the most are:

● Enthusiasm

● Patience

● Having a structured approach

● A passion to learn new things

● Good communication skills

The most important lesson I’ve learned dealing with difficult projects is to be patient. By being patient, it gives you the time and space to understand problems while not getting side-tracked by frustration or misunderstandings. Although having these skills isn’t a “must have”, it will greatly benefit your career if you wish to evolve into a professional software developer.

Becoming a software engineer is a very straightforward path as you can learn almost anything from the Internet. However, the environment you place yourself in is key to your growth and career development.

I enjoy being at Objective because I have found a good balance between a well-defined process and the freedom to investigate something new without being restricted. I can learn from senior team members and get practice mentoring people that have just joined our company. Unlike other companies where you can feel restricted in your responsibilities and roles, I have always had opportunities to grow and evolve my skillset as an all-rounded software engineer.

Interested in seeing where a career in software engineering at Objective can take you? Check out our job opportunities here.