Career Paths: Becoming a Software Developer

By Celtra

Ever wondered about the paths that pave the way for a career in software development? Read along for an insightful conversation with the highly skilled Svetlana Nikić, a Senior Software Developer, in which she opens up about the career-shaping decisions that led her to Celtra and provides a glimpse into the daily challenges she faces.

Q: Could you tell us a bit about your career journey? What steps in your career and education have led you to start in the field of software development? 

My story into the coding world actually began with my love for math (weird, I know). I remember going through my siblings’ math books even before I started school myself. But my older brother was really into computers in general, so I got an early introduction to that as well.

Fast forward to high school, we had this Linux course, and I was utterly lost. I thought “Well, coding is probably not my gig.” because at that point (like most people) I didn’t really differentiate between the many possible options of working with the computer. So, off I went to study mathematics. It was there that I realized just how great programming can be. I loved it so much that after getting my bachelor’s degree in mathematics (with a focus on the programming side of it) I continued my studies in a Computer Science program.

During university, I had some student jobs related to programming but my first “real” programming job was in Canada, where I moved after finishing my studies. There, the main product was the accreditation of professionals, and software was its supporting role. Later I joined a consulting firm and today I’m here at Celtra, working on the main product. Writing code is pretty consistent throughout the jobs, but the role you play adds a whole new dimension. The mentality you need for each of them really is completely different, so each one brought a fresh layer to my journey.

Q: What, in your opinion, are 2-3 character traits that are crucial to software development?

Having solid problem-solving skills is really important. It’s not just about fixing bugs, but also about finding solutions that not only work without errors but are clean and elegant and both user and company are happy with is crucial. Communication is also vital. Working together is a big part of the game, so being able to listen, take and implement feedback, and share your thoughts ensures we end up with the best possible product.

Q: What does a normal day look like as a Software Developer at Celtra?

This depends on the person, but for me, no matter what day it is, I usually make a brief personal plan for the day. We have meetings on most days, where the team aligns on what should be done and makes a plan to address any issues.

Contrary to common perception, coding is just one part of the job. So besides the planning, a day of a Software Developer might involve new features development and bug fixing, but also testing, code reviews, writing specifications, and documentation – it all depends on the project and role. It’s a well-rounded mix of responsibilities that keeps things dynamic.

However, you could make the best plan for the upcoming day and unexpected things will come up – you might need to jump on a new issue or help others with reviews or clarifications.

Q: What are the toughest challenges you face daily, and how do you overcome them?

We are fortunate to have a dedicated team addressing a lot of generic issues that developers face so most challenges are specific to our team’s work. For example, we do a lot of integrations with external parties. Each integration comes with its unique logic, and troubleshooting can be tricky when things go awry. Limited access to underlying data can make pinpointing issues challenging.

Otherwise, more generically speaking, it can also be challenging to find the best solution that works for everyone while dealing with deadlines, and balancing feature development and tech dept at the same time.

Q: Software engineering is still a male-dominated field. Do you have any advice for women who want to go into this field?

Though this advice is relevant to everyone, it may be especially beneficial for women, given that we often join the field with a less stereotypical skill set and outside perception. I think it’s crucial to recognize that each person possesses their own set of strengths and weaknesses, comes from different circumstances, and carries specific advantages or disadvantages. While addressing your weaknesses is important, success often comes from leveraging your unique strengths, especially when combined with other people’s strengths. So, my advice is to discover that sweet spot where you align what you love, what you’re good at, and where you bring value, which is a good recipe for a rewarding career.

Q: What is your favorite aspect of your job and what makes working at Celtra special?

The problems we have to solve are often really cool and interesting. I also like working with newer technology that allows us to be a lot more flexible and we get to learn new things all the time. And let’s not forget the people – I’ve had the chance to meet some truly amazing individuals for which I’ll be forever grateful!

Liked this article? Read the previous Career Paths Q&A on how to become a Product Designer, or check out our content hub for more culture and industry-related blogs.

Interested in a software development career? Check available positions at Job Careers at Celtra and apply today! 

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