A man working on a computer with two screens showing code, symbolising a software engineer.
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What it’s like working as a software engineer

27 Jun 2023

SiliconRepublic.com spoke to three Yahoo employees working in the software engineering space about what their roles entail and what budding software engineers need to know.

Software engineering talent remains extremely sought after and software development skills are among the most in-demand skills. So, what better way to gain insight into the profession than by hearing from some of those already working in the industry.

SiliconRepublic.com headed down to Yahoo’s Dublin office to talk to some of its software professionals about the work that they do.

Chris Madden is a senior principal technical security engineer. He said that software developers and the skills they have are really what brings value to Yahoo’s customers.

“The value that we deliver to our customers is through the software that developers write so ultimately developers deliver the value,” he said. “The technology is super important but it’s just plumbing at the end of the day.”

Colm Geraghty, a senior principal architect, has been with the company for more than 20 years, back when it was known as AOL. Unsurprisingly, he has seen a lot of change since then.

“I started as a C++ programmer. Now we build everything in Java.  Everything uses open source so you’re able to leverage the wisdom of the industry and it’s easier to take advantage of that and also contribute to that,” he said.

Advice for software developers

Jiji Sasidharan, a senior principal software development engineer, gave us an insight into his role.

“I work with product managers and different stakeholders to brainstorm ideas that can bring into the omniscope forecasting platform and that will actually help the advertisers to improve their campaign planning,” he said.

“The best part of my job is the technology and the learning associated with it. Today you could be creating a UI widget using JavaScript, tomorrow you could be working on an API layer or creating a gRPC server using Java or  maybe creating a big data processing pipeline using Spark and deploying that into an Amazon EMR cluster.”

So for those delving into the sector, what are the most important skills? Madden said it’s all about the four Cs: communication, creativity, collaboration and critical thinking.

“Ultimately it’s people over process, over tools and technology, so a lot of it ultimately is the people skills,” he said.

“As engineers, we’re designed to solve the problem [and] a lot of the effort and skill goes into understanding the problem. As Einstein once said succinctly: ‘If I was given an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on it, I’d spend 55 minutes understanding the problem and five minutes solving it.”

Geraghty said that for anyone who is just starting out, he would advise that they engage with the product they’re working with and take advantage of whatever organisation they’re in to build up skills and learn from more experienced employees.

“You have to treat every day as a school day effectively,” he said. “There’s something new to learn and take advantage of, whatever organisation you’re in.”

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Jenny Darmody
By Jenny Darmody

Jenny Darmody became the editor of Silicon Republic in 2023, having worked as the deputy editor since February 2020. When she’s not writing about the science and tech industry, she’s writing short stories and attempting novels. She continuously buys more books than she can read in a lifetime and pretty stationery is her kryptonite. She also believes seagulls to be the root of all evil and her baking is the stuff of legends.

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