Building a Software Engineer Career Without Compromising Balance by@darianesvitailo
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Building a Software Engineer Career Without Compromising Balance

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Leading Engineer Programmer: I essentially started my career as a Junior Java Developer. Today I am a Senior Java Developer, and this is a huge step away from my starting point. The diverse companies I worked for shaped my outlook, broadened it, and deepened my expertise. As I grew stronger as a professional, I felt the need to share information and best practices, I became a mentor. I have a clear understanding of what it takes to succeed in interviews, how to sell yourself, and what it means to be a top-notch specialist.

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@darianesvitailo

Daria Nesvitailo

I am a Senior Software Engineer (Java) at Innovecs, a...

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Looking back at my professional path, I realize that balance is not immediate. At the beginning of a career, a person is naturally overwhelmed by enthusiasm, drive, and the desire to absorb an endless sea of knowledge. Often, beginners or switchers simply do not get to have personal life: after work, they do not relax and sit back but get down to studying. Therefore, balance is a matter of time. Today I perform tasks that are more complex and non-trivial, and I have no fear that something will appear impossible. Given this, I have the opportunity to devote more time to myself and shift my focus if I need to.

Leading Engineer Programmer vs. Java Software Engineer: The Major Differences

My evolution as a pro is primarily expressed in the amount of time spent on a task. As you grow and gain experience, the pace gradually gains momentum. In addition, I noticed changes in how my brain works: all processes from A to Z were rebuilt. I learned to think technically and to correctly consider and solve problems. What used to take a week now requires only a few hours of my attention.

Even though my position officially sounded like Leading Engineer Programmer, I essentially started my career as a Junior Java Developer. Today I am a Senior Java Developer, and this is a huge step away from my starting point. The difference lies in the set of knowledge, skills, and the value of my contribution to the current project. This also includes the experience and tools I can offer and implement in the project. The diverse companies I worked for shaped my outlook, broadened it, and deepened my expertise.

As I grew stronger as a professional, I felt the need to share. So I became a mentor. In addition to conveying information and best practices, I teach people how to learn. I have a clear understanding of what it takes to succeed in interviews, how to sell yourself, and what it means to be a top-notch specialist in your domain.

Today, the IT market is a highly competitive environment, which, at the same time, has proven its stability regardless of the circumstances. The viability of the area, its flexibility, and its online work format have encouraged a large number of people to embrace it. Breaking into a junior position is extremely difficult. Since I interview people, I know exactly what employers want to see: what a CV should look like and how to answer questions without being flunked. Nailing interviews is a critical skill as well. It is important, but not sufficient: you must be able to apply theory in practice.

What Prevents A Techie From Growing

Not everyone wants to achieve more upon reaching a certain professional and financial comfort level. I have often met people who cease developing simply because they are satisfied with the current regularity. This does not surprise me: a person can get tired of competition over the years. Plus, to evolve, you must move from one project to another, which is a challenge. You need to be well-versed in a wide range of topics. In my case, when applying for a job, a candidate takes a three-hour exam that covers all possible levels. One must consider lengthy and thorough preparation. This is a stress that many prefer to avoid.

The main mistake that I stopped making was doing someone else's work. When a person comes to you with a specific question or problem, your task as a senior and mentor is to guide your mentee to a solution, not to do the work for one. Obviously, you do understand that it is easier and faster to do everything yourself, however, this is counterproductive. Your mentees will learn nothing because your disservice prevents them from developing and reaching crucial milestones. In addition, stopping upon achieving a high level is taboo for me. Letting loose, loafing, and losing the fuse are unacceptable things. The professionals are obliged to constantly prove their own status.

Proven Ways To Evolve

For me, self-education comes first. It usually reflects the desire to move forward, the ability not to give up in the face of hardships, and high commitment. In this profession, financial motivation cannot retain you at the beginning of the journey. You have to truly love what you do. In the process of self-study, it is vital to get support from a mentor who will promptly guide and advise literature and/or courses and explain how the IT world lives and operates in general. Being a mentor today, I can see clearly what I lacked at the beginning of my career. Consequently, my mission is to provide my mentees with the full picture without gaps.

For seven years, I have met people who memorized the theory, received all kinds of certifications in Java, and at the same time could not use their knowledge in real situations and tasks. Sometimes, the knowledge that bounces off teeth cannot become one with practice. This is due to the lack of the ability to think critically, evaluate the problem from different angles, and pick the appropriate solution. In this case, practice and participation in real cases are simply irreplaceable.

As for higher education, it all depends on the position itself and the company's requirements. In the case of a serious organization listed on the market, the employer will most likely require a degree in computer science. Whereas in a startup, it is quite enough to be interviewed, and a document’s availability goes by the wayside. However, having an honors degree in computer science, I am far from saying that it helped me a lot. I accumulated most of my knowledge on my own.

A Company As A Career Booster

It's good when, in addition to the work itself, the company offers options for professional growth, as well as a community where specialists can grow along with others, be inspired, and use the network for their own benefit.

A company can promote career development through the organization of international and local conferences: new versions of Java are constantly being released, and staying in the loop is a must. I believe a company should keep its people interested in the topic. For example, it was exciting for me to take mentor courses: in addition to the ability to convey information, I get even more immersed in the field. Access to educational programs within the company is always a win-win.

Engineering Leadership: Key Traits, Habits, and Skills

For me, an engineering leader is first and foremost a role model. It’s a person to look up to who sets an example of problem-solving, preventing errors, communication and interaction with the team and leading it toward success. In this case, there is no room for self-assertion at someone's expense. Self-admiring and revelling in your status is the last thing for a true leader. On the contrary, it takes thinking about others and will to share because there is a lot to give. In addition, an engineering leader is an inspiring, charismatic personality who genuinely loves the job.

Over the years, I figured out the following: loving what you do resonates almost immediately. The team feels this vibe and gets elated and motivated; people are literally “infected” with your energy. Talking work with passion, bursting with ideas, and radiating a desire to constantly implement, invent, apply and share are the traits of true leaders. They are rare species, which is why they are so treasured.


In this article, Daria Nesvitailo, a Senior Software Engineer at Innovecs, shares her thoughts on balanced growth, professional development methods, and what it means to be an engineering leader.


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