Paul describes his daily life as a programmer from Derby in the United Kingdom.
What do you work on first, second, third each day?
When I get in to work each day, I check my emails to see if there are any updates or changes to requirements for any of the projects I am working on. Next I download any changes made in the source control for my latest project. I open up the project in Visual Studio and I look back at my notes and the requirements for the project to see where I left it last and what is next to do. I usually work on websites, so I get the site up and running in it’s current state to help me see what is missing and left to do. Every day is different for me. I deal with clients on the telephone regarding the requirements for future changes or feedback on the latest version of their site. I also communicate a lot by email with the team here at MEDIAmaker and with our clients.
What do you look forward to each day? What’s the most fun and/or interesting part of your day?
The thing I look forward to most each day is the problem solving side of my job. I enjoy being given the task of finding a way to do something or making someone else’s life easier, by writing lines of code. I never used to think of myself as a creative person, but I have come to reallise that I am creative, I use my creativity to solve problems instead of in an artistic designer way.
What skills and tools do you use daily? Did you learn these skills in school or on the job?
I build dynamic, content managed, websites using Microsoft ASP.NET MVC with Umbraco as an Open Source framework. The tools I use are:
- Microsoft Visual Studio
- Microsoft SQL Server
- Internet Information Services (IIS)
- Chrome Browser
- Remote Desktop
- Microsoft Office Suite, i.e. Outlook, Excel, Word and PowerPoint
I learned how to use a web browser and the Microsoft Office Suite at school. I didn’t get into development until later in my career. I studied Business Administration at school, which involved using computers, but not writing programs.
I got interested in programming when I wanted to customize Microsoft Office applications like Microsoft Access or Microsoft Excel. I started learning how to create and edit macros using Visual Basic for Applications (VBA). Next I started writing my own custom functions in Excel VBA and creating forms and buttons in Microsoft Access, also using VBA. The ability to customize the applications was very appealing to me and somewhat addictive. I love being able to shorten an existing process using code. I then learned how to write SQL for querying databases. This was all whilst doing a job of an administrator and not a developer. In my next job I was noticed for my skills in these areas and was given a chance to join a data reporting team. Whilst doing this job, I was looking into other languages in my own time like C# and that was when I started using Visual Studio and started trying to create a dynamic website. When I got made redundant from my job at the bank, I used the training budget to learn about web development using HTML, ASP.NET and C#. And that is how I got to where I am in my current role as a Web Developer.
The best part for me is that I get to do my hobby for a living.
What’s one thing new programmers and/or computer scientists should think about?
The one thing I think they should think about is whether they enjoy problem solving or not. If you don’t like problem solving, then this isn’t the career for you. It is not easy and you need to concentrate a lot and think of new ways to solve problems, but it is very rewarding when you do.
Paul also writes for this magazine so you can find his articles here, as well.
Also In The August 2016 Issue
Virtual and augmented reality replace or add computing to our real world experience.
What would you build if you had 10 weeks and access to Microsoft HoloLens and HTC Vive equipment and developers?
If clouds are not digital, what is cloud computing?
With end of year holidays fast approaching, here are 35 of the more interesting ideas for holiday STEAM gifts that introduce STEAM concepts in fun ways.
If you work in a school or community library, or an after school group, STEAM events can be a way to offer technology events for kids.
A short history of virtual and augmented reality with lots of links to learn more.
One thing programmers do all day is imagine. When someone asks them to solve a problem with code, they start thinking and dreaming.
There are several key skills that I believe you need to have if you want to be a software programmer.
What makes a programmer lousy is a good way to identify what makes a programmer great.
Virtual reality has brought to the masses an old problem with flight simulators: what happens when our brain, ears, and eyes disagree?
Why would a musician learn to code?
The dots and lines used in graph theory can solve interesting problems.
Links from the bottom of all the October 2016 articles, collected in one place for you to print, share, or bookmark.
Interesting stories about computer science, software programming, and technology for October 2016.