A Day in The Life of a Software Engineer
March 10, 2015
I love my job.
And I promise I wasn’t paid to say that.
I’ve been a software engineer at Spok for over five years, and it’s never failed to be fun and challenging. My coworkers and I work with a broad range of technologies, from telephony and paging protocols to web UI languages, and I love that variety.
We do have plenty of specialists here, but we also have jacks-of-all-trades like me who enjoy doing a little bit of everything. If I’m not learning something new every few weeks, I can get bored. That’s not a problem at Spok: tackling new technologies and solving new problems every day keeps me consistently engaged.
I’m an engineer, and I think most engineers love to challenge themselves. We find learning new things entertaining. That’s what’s fun, and what capitalizes on our strengths and motivations.
Most engineers are analytical, and the solutions I work on are very complex. When something isn’t working as expected, the ability to determine what went wrong is key. Engineers call this root cause analysis: the ability to analyze causal relationships and figure out where something broke. Finding that root cause is never simple. I usually have to go far back in the chain of events to get to the root cause, because evidence of the break doesn’t appear until much later. It’s about asking why over and over again and having the persistence to not stop until all questions are answered.
Building something new takes creativity. When I think of creativity, I usually think of artistic creativity, which I certainly don’t have—I can’t even draw stick figures. But as an engineer, I have to be able to dream up a dozen different ways to solve a problem, and that takes creativity and imagination. Every problem you’re presented with can be solved in more than one way, and if you use the first solution that comes to mind, you’re nearly guaranteed to be missing out on a more robust and efficient solution. Sometimes I get stuck, so I turn to the creativity and imagination of my colleagues. We’re a collaborative team, and once we get more brains on a problem, we quickly figure out the best way to solve it.
It’s a great feeling once a complex problem is tackled, the issue is resolved, and what you have built is working flawlessly. From a development standpoint, there’s a real pride of authorship: If I write something and it’s put out there in the world, I don’t want it to break. I want it working perfectly, every time. Spok® solutions are deployed to hospitals and health systems—there’s a lot of responsibility in that. A lot of engineers create software that needs to work well, but the ramifications of a problem aren’t as critical for their customers. I enjoy working on communication software that’s the foundation of many critical processes for life-saving organizations.
Are you an analytical thinker and imaginative problem solver? If so, and all of the above sounds good to you, or if you know of some creative engineers, check out our open positions. We’re hiring.
By Jeff Rapp, Software Engineer III
Jeff Rapp has been a software engineer for 11 years. He started at Spok as a mobile developer, working on our secure texting application, Spok Mobile™. He is currently on the Platform team developing common components to be used by all our future applications.