This week, we had a chat with Martin Chu — a software engineer at an investment bank, about his journey so far and what it is like being a software engineer. Read about it here.
Let’s take a deep dive into what being a software engineer is like and the day-to-day of being one.
OpenDoors: Could you give us an idea of the key functions and responsibilities that your role encompasses?
Martin: I would say half of my working hours goes into coding and development. This includes time spent researching into how to tackle technical problems involved with the project on hand.
20–25% of my remaining time is dedicated to strategy and planning. This involves jumping on zoom calls to discuss matters relating to the project, like mapping out timelines, setting standards to meet, discussing contingencies to navigate any changes in circumstances, and giving updates to project leads.
Another 20–25% would be spent on tackling production issues, because tech development is not as straightforward as you might think, and it’s quite normal for issues to pop up from time to time.
OpenDoors: One of the things that investment banks are known for is the long working hours. What’s that like for you?
Martin: A typical day would start at 9am and end at some time between 7 and 7:30pm. It fluctuates a bit depending the project being worked on — sometimes the project lead might be based in another time zone where they come in at around 4–5pm for the daily stand up to walk through what I’ve done for the project that day. When we submit our work for the project lead to review (called a “pull request”), it’s not unusual for there to be 1–2 rounds of minor adjustments, so by the time the project lead approves by merging the request, it might be 9–10pm. This happens but I think we do have quite a decent work-life balance still. The company and tech in general are very result-driven, so you do get to enjoy some degree of flexibility if you manage yourself and your work well.
OpenDoors: What’s the learning curve like? Is there something that you’ve been trying to figure out?
Martin: Other than software engineering skills, one of the things I’m still learning is where to draw the line between finding the solution yourself and reaching out to the team for support. What I usually do is spend a good amount of time trying out different solutions first so my team has a better basis to work with when I seek for advice.
OpenDoors: Has COVID-19 affected you as a software engineer in any way?
Martin: I mentioned earlier that communication is actually a significant part of what we do. Being co-located with the team would definitely allow conversations to spark more easily and naturally to facilitate knowledge-sharing among everyone, but COVID has put a halt on this unfortunately.
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