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Career Connections: Software Developer (O'Neil & Associates)

6 minutes

My name is Daniel Di Lillo. I'm a software developer at O'Neil & Associates. We help our customers make the things they make better. We do that by optimizing their product support information, then optimizing the technology to deliver that documentation to their customers. A software developer, in general, we write code. We also interact with team members, software analysts, testers, and we build software. One great part about my job is designing a user interface and writing code to give it life. We collaborate with customers to know how the product should look and feel. Once we've got that, we'll flush out the back end and find out, "Do you need a database or some integration with other systems?" Each customer is different, but we build the software to meet expectations. Our end product is typically a website or system that allows customers to produce PDF documentation and a manual for their end users. We will write some code, do some testing, incorporate content that they have, or set them up to produce content within our system. That's delivered to the customer by way of the website or desktop application built to their specifications. Some are commercial players. We work with the Department of Defense. A variety of customers are interested in making products better in the same way. We have to work with the customer and talk about their data. I grew up in a small town. My dad was a photographer. My mom worked in social services. We weren't necessarily computer people, but like many kids in my generation, you played video games and thought, "That's cool. I'd like to work in that field." Academically, I was always much more inclined towards art than science. I enjoyed the creative process, but found other classes that really melded math and science and the creative side of me together. Drafting was a class where I used a program to draw building plans, then the software would show how it looked in 3D, and I thought that was cool. That parallels what I do now. You write something flat, but you bring it to life and see it animated, and that's cool to see. I have a bachelor's degree in management information systems. One thing that's cool is you don't necessarily need a four-year engineering degree to become a great software developer. It's about having just the aptitude, the passion, really the drive to become really skilled at writing code and analyzing problems. Software developers have to spend time keeping our skills fresh. Some of that happens just interacting with other folks, prototyping things. It happens at night or on weekends. You pick out side projects. You may do some online training and learn by doing. You can rely on the Internet. There's information out there about new techniques, new tools. That becomes a great source of training. Day to day can vary, but typically I may attend design meetings, where we look at details of the software, put together the hard requirements that dictate what we're going to build. Then later in the day, I'll write some true code, which later on will be incorporated into the product. To be successful as a software developer, you really need hard technical skill. When you build software integral to people's work days, when something's not working right it's important to solve that problem quickly because time is money. You want to get that person back being productive. It's important to have soft skills. It's really a people job. You're talking to customers, to colleagues, administrators, you're talking to sales folks. Being able to have those conversations, being able to articulate opinions, helping folks who are not technical understand technical problems is really vital. If you're someone who's interested in computers, if you're someone who is curious about technology, this could be your path. It's the best combination of creative and technical that I've come across. It's really fun to sketch up a user interface or imagine what a product should be and then identify a solution that brings that to life. It's great when everything's working, when our users are telling us, "Hey, this software made my life easier today." That's a really great feeling.

Funding to purchase and make this educational production accessible was provided by the U.S. Department of Education:

PH: 1-800-USA-LEARN (V) or WEB: www.ed.gov.

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A software developer with a love of math, science, and the creative process explains what led him to pursue a career in information systems. He provides insight into the possible educational tracks that will help someone have a successful career in developing software. Part of the "Career Connections" series.

Media Details

Runtime: 6 minutes

Career Connections
Episode 1
5 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Career Connections
Episode 2
6 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Career Connections
Episode 3
3 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Career Connections
Episode 4
5 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Career Connections
Episode 5
5 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Career Connections
Episode 6
4 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Career Connections
Episode 7
7 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Career Connections
Episode 8
7 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Career Connections
Episode 9
6 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Career Connections
Episode 10
6 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12