What is software engineering?

If you are looking for a job in tech, now is a great time to start updating your resume and looking at jobs because companies are hiring! According to federal employment data analyzed by CompTIA, an IT trade association, US companies had around 918,000 unfilled IT jobs in the past three months. Companies across the boards are putting more money into tech and they need roles to be filled. Look at all the companies on Ladders that are hiring software engineers in particular. Sony, Wayfair and Apple to name a few.

But what exactly does a software engineer do? Ladders spoke to two experts from Intuit to find out all about the role of a software engineer, from the interview process to the day-to-day aspects of the role.

What do software engineers do?

“A software engineer is someone who writes code (software) that instructs a computer,” said Alex Balazs, the Intuit Chief Architect.

“This can include a variety of tasks, like coding graphical interfaces, directing users through a product flow, or even managing how a computer functions in the background. It is a very broad role with a lot of opportunities for career growth and learning.”

What does the day-to-day life of a software engineer look like?

Like most roles, the day-to-day life of a software engineer can vary depending on the exact position.

“At Intuit, our engineers work collaboratively within their scrum teams, which includes a product manager, data scientist, and a designer,” Balazs said.

“They may start their day with a ‘stand-up meeting,’ in which the product manager outlines the key tasks needed to be completed by the week in order to make their milestones. From there, the software engineer may code based on the assignment for most of the day, workshop key issues that they’re facing with their peers, and even join in user testing research groups to provide feedback on other team’s work. No day is ever the same!”

Examples of software engineer jobs

Intuit is currently hiring for a number of open software engineer roles, including a Principal Software Engineer in San Diego, California, and a Senior Software Engineer on the Cloud Hosting Platform Team.

How much do software engineers get paid?

The salary range for software engineer jobs on Ladders is $90,000 to $225,000.

What do software engineers study in college?

“Typically, a software engineer has a bachelor’s degree in software engineering or computer science,” according to Balazs. “Although with readily programs available today like open source, on-demand virtual classes, coding boot camps or even online tutorials, some software engineers teach themselves how to program and have very fruitful careers.”

What kinds of projects does a software engineer work on?

“A software engineer usually works on a variety of projects,” Balazs said. “At Intuit, our software engineers build products (QuickBooks, TurboTax, and Mint), build web services that deliver functionally to those products, and create frameworks that make it easier to build new software, with security and high quality.”

What do hiring managers and recruiters look for when hiring a software engineer?

“We look for a variety of technical skills, including fluency in Java and JavaScript, past experience working in software development and key projects that they have accomplished,” said Kim Hoffman, the Director of Talent Acquisition at Intuit.

“Aside from technical skills, we also want to understand how they work and approach problems. With engineering careers especially, eagerness and curiosity to solve problems is something we look for, as well as an ability to work collaboratively and think outside of the box.

We also evaluate the potential of our candidates, and how they adapt to a changing environment, learn new skills, and apply strategic problem-solving to innovation. Being in the technology industry, we recognize that the industry moves fast and that some of the skill sets that we hire for today may need to evolve to meet our customers’ needs in the future.”

What kind of experience is important for a software engineer?

“We look for past experience in working with teams to solve problems, and past programming experience,” Hoffman said. “If we are looking for a specialist, then we also look for past experience related to that specialty. For example, cybersecurity is one area that we look for security-related experience.”

“Outside of someone’s credentials of past work experience, we also consider other related experiences, such as coding boot camps, open-source projects, Leetcode, and more. We believe all of this is important to understand how someone works holistically.”

What does the interview process typically look like?

“After someone applies, a typical interview process includes a phone interview with a recruiter, and a potential technical phone interview with a peer or hiring manager,” Hoffman said.

“From there, the candidate is asked to create a craft demonstration, which is a challenge that Intuit provides the candidate to solve and present their thinking. A craft presentation is a great tool for us to understand who the candidate is, and how they approach the role.”

“When hiring, Intuit works to build a diverse candidate pool for every job opening. That strategy includes deploying a diverse team of ‘Awesome Assessors’ to help our company find, evaluate, and hire the outstanding, diverse talent we seek. Awesome Assessors are some of Intuit’s top-performing team members; they are typically nominated by leadership. These employees represent diverse backgrounds and departments and help Intuit to avoid groupthink in our recruiting and hiring practices. For engineering roles, our engineers are actively included in candidate interviews as an ‘Awesome Assessor.’”

“The engineer will present their craft presentation to the ‘Awesome Assessors’ along with 1:1 interviews, which then the team will decide whether or not to extend an offer within a 24-hour period.”