What does it mean to be a Software Engineer?
Erika Mar 28, 2017
Over the past 4 months or so I've been trying to define what exactly are some of the differences in expectations for tech folks from three backgrounds: self-taught, those with a formal education in Computer Science, and those trained in Software Engineering. I would really like your opinions on what you expect from yourself and what you expect from others.
My intent is to try and get a clear idea over the next 6 months and write about it, and each year following I'd like to do an update. In a way, it'll be tracking their evolution.
I'm going to be intentionally vague here because I don't want to lead the conversation but it's my position that the tech industry is a bit of a 'wild west' right now. It's not really clear who can do what, and resumes and interviews can be extremely difficult for figuring out what a candidate can actually do. I'm also coming from a Canadian perspective, where the term 'Software Engineer' is protected so someone can't willy nilly just title themselves an Engineer on their projects.
Looking to web development, I believe that a self-taught developer could certainly teach themselves everything about solid and robust system designs and learn the mathematical foundations that students need to take in formal education. Similarly, someone from computer science could mold their degree to be strictly theoretical (i.e., for masters and doctorate programs later on), or train for more direct application like an engineer must. Finally, someone from software engineering could go on to purely "engineer" software, or perhaps they could go into more of a managerial position, or just stick to pure development. The point is that anyone can learn what they need and be excellent at it. So how can you possibly have any sort of expectations?
I am in no way intending to imply a hierarchy. Instead, I'm trying to build a venn diagram of where these trainings are the same and where they're different. Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated, and may be quoted in future blog posts either here on Dev.to or my personal blog site.
Credit to Luis Llerena for the cover image. Image found on Unsplash here.