For many women, a career as a software engineer can seem daunting. This is an area where women are traditionally underrepresented so many women dismiss it because of the perceived barriers to entry and the under-representation of females in the space. But, because there’s a strong need for software engineers because of Australia’s tech skills shortage, this is an appropriate time for women to look a bit more closely at just what a career in software engineering will give them – and what’s required of them to work in this field.
The Holberton School Australia is a new school which is making women – and men – who wouldn’t normally consider a job in IT, consider these types of roles. Holberton School is a dedicated computer science school originally founded in Silicon Valley in 2016 to bridge the gap in the education system for software engineers. With branches in quite a few countries now, the Australian branch started operating early this year, offering the software engineering foundations course.
What’s different about the Holberton School? Well, it takes a new approach to software engineering and in fact, the school makes it possible to become a fully-fledged software engineer in around nine months. There’s a lot of hands-on training and working in groups with other students, and the end result is the students are capable of working as software engineers. All up it’s an attractive proposition for many young people because it’s an interesting job and one of the advantages is software engineers are well paid.
As Chiara – a student currently studying at the Holberton School Australia in Melbourne says:
“I was looking for a career change – for a job that would allow me the opportunity to learn something new every day, and to feel challenged. Software engineering ticks these boxes”
Farah is also a current student at the Holberton School in Melbourne and she says:
“I was a dental nurse for 12 years before I started. I had a little bit of knowledge. I used to make my own websites when I was about 13. It’s a very long time ago, but I didn’t have any knowledge about programming or engineering.”
“I describe it as an accelerated social engineering course. So essentially you’d be learning everything you’d be learning at uni, but in a shorter time frame, I think that my mind works more like an engineer,” Farah adds.
What does a software engineer do exactly?
Software engineers are essentially creative problem solvers, designing and developing software solutions to meet a client’s requirements. In a practical sense, they utilise programming languages and other technologies to turn an idea into a final product, such as web applications, mobile games and operating systems.
We often think of a software engineer as someone who sits in front of a computer and writes code for eight hours every day, this is not how the job really translates. In reality, a career as a software engineer includes a lot of collaboration with colleagues and collective problem solving. This means much of the job involves ongoing discussions with designers, data scientists, and project managers to figure how best to achieve a desired outcome.
One of the satisfying parts of the role is the fact a software engineer gets to work on a project from start to finish, knowing they are responsible for the final outcome. This can make a career as a software engineer highly satisfying and intrinsically rewarding.
Here are three more reasons we’ve put together why women should consider a career in software engineering:
- You don’t need a University degree: With alternative educational pathways such as the Holberton School Australia, software engineering is now more accessible. The school was founded in Silicon Valley and trains job-ready software engineers in nine months through a pragmatic, project-led curriculum. Students from the course have been offered entry level job roles despite having no previous software engineering skills. This reflects the enormous demand for skilled tech talent in Australia, as well as a commitment from the Australian tech industry to employ people from a broader range of training and educational backgrounds, as per the Tech Council of Australia.
- It’s a flexible career path: Every business needs software, meaning a software engineer can work in almost any industry, in a company of any size, across all types of organisations. Software engineers can also work remotely, from anywhere. As long there is an internet connection, they can generate an income (a good one at that). The skills are also highly transferable across countries and cultures, allowing software engineers to travel and work for innovative companies across the globe.
- It pays very well: According to talent.com, the average Australian software engineer makes around $120,000 per year, 30% more than the average Australian income of around $90,000 per year.
As we continue to rely on technology for innovation and business growth into the future, this
discrepancy is only set to grow – making a career in software engineering more attractive
All in all, it seems like a career in software engineering is worth considering. In contrast to many people’s pre-conceptions, it’s rewarding, flexible and pays very well. And now with new pathways as a result of schools like Holberton School Australia – it’s more accessible than before.
The Holberton course is not officially accredited but in the IT industry, many courses aren’t accredited and they rely on industry acceptance instead. The University of Melbourne faculty of engineering and information technology says it’s reviewed the Holberton course and accepts its curriculum as meeting the programming prerequisite for entry into its master of information technology.
Here at Women Love Tech, we talked with some more students at the Holberton School and asked them why they chose software engineering and how they’re enjoying their studies?
Jacqueline says: “Well, I was a kindergarten teacher before, but I wasn’t very happy with my previous job. And I always wanted to have a career change and I’ve got so many friends who work in software engineering and they suggested that I try it, So I decided to give it a go.”
Cienna describes Holberton School as: “In software engineering, everyday is different. You need to constantly explore, learn and adapt.”
Yuan says: “It’s challenging, It’s really challenging. But I am happy because I have learnt a lot. What I like about Holberton is that everyone is here to help – there is no competition at all.”
Karoline says: “I don’t think I actually thought that I could become a software engineer – that didn’t actually seem possible to me. And even though I enrolled, and signed up, it was only recently that I accepted that, Oh, okay – maybe being a software engineer is possible.”
“I am just blown away by the depth of the knowledge that I’m getting,” Karoline adds.
Jacqueline says: “It’s been great. I’ve learned a lot. It’s a very intensive course. I wouldn’t deny that, but I learned a lot, like in a very short period of time. I love the vibe that we have created. We’re helping each other out and there’s no competition at all. I love it. It is a very loving environment I will say. And you do well, learn a lot, not only from, you know, the project, but also from your peers.”
If you’re interested to see if software engineering could be a possible career for you, you can give the Holberton School Admissions process a try. They offer you a free challenge where you’re required to build a website from the ground up. For many people, this is their first exposure to programming but it’s a great way to see if working in this field would work for you.
For more information on the Holberton School and this challenge, visit here.
For more from Women Love Tech about Holberton School, visit here.