I get the "But what do you really do?" whenever I tell people I am a software engineer. I had the same question before getting into the tech industry – what is this mysterious "coding" thing? Do you sit and code all day? Do you get to talk to other people? If Freaky Friday were to happen and you had to live a day in my shoes, this is what it would look like:
[6:30 am - 7:30 am] - Wake up and get ready
Depends on how early my first meeting of the day is and if I'm going into the office. For software engineers, our schedules are pretty flexible so I can choose when to go in and when to work from home. If I'm up late, I'll opt for WFH since I don't have to commute in.
[8:00 am - 8:15 am] - Get to my desk
At work, we have open seating – this means I don't have an assigned seat and can sit wherever when I come in. Double monitors are a pretty standard setup for development. I have a set-up at home as well for days I do WFH to make sure I stay productive 🙂
[8:15 am - 8:30 am] - Set my goals for the day
During this time, I...
- Check and respond to emails.
- Check my schedule and fill in my planner.
- Set the top 3 work to-do's and top 3 personal to-do's for the day.
- Eat breakfast and make coffee.
[8:30 am - 8:45 am] - Stand-up Meeting
Time varies depending on your team but typically on a development team, a standup meeting is done first thing in the morning where everyone quickly goes through what they finished yesterday, what they plan on working on today, and if there are any blockers preventing them from finishing their task.
[8:45 am - 10:30 am] - Meetings
Since several team members are in India, we hold meetings first thing in the morning during the time overlap. Depending on the day, these are some of the meetings that might be on my schedule:
- Scrum Ceremonies (Sprint Planning, Backlog Grooming, or Sprint Retrospective) - discuss priorities, goals, and how to get better at hitting these goals as a team. These are usually scheduled for every 2 weeks.
- Design Meetings - discuss how we are going to build something. This can be creating mockups of what a site might like look, figuring out tables in a database, etc. These usually come up randomly as often as needed to get the project done.
- Demos - once finished with a functionality, demos are shown to upper management and/or stakeholders to make sure all requirements are met. These can be regularly scheduled demos to track progress or come up randomly as often as something is demo-able.
[10:30 am - 12:00 pm] - Coding
No I don't sit around on my terminal "hacking" things like in the movies screaming "I'M IN" within 5 minutes of trying 😂. What actually happens during "coding" time?
- Figuring out a solution - map out what information I need and what parts need to be connected to what.
- Building out functionality - this could be creating a new page and adding in input fields, buttons, etc., creating rest endpoints, setting up new tables in a database. The list goes on.
- I get stuck and spend time Googling and scrolling Stack OverFlow for an example or solution – then proceed to try several methods before something works.
- IT WORKS! But wait, there's a bug? 🐜 - I spend more time on the solution to refine what I have. This means accounting for all edge cases that usually don't happen but might come up and getting out all the bugs.
When I say I'm coding, that doesn't mean I'm constantly writing new code. In fact, I only probably spend 30% of my time writing new code and the rest of the 70% is dedicated to designing, researching on the internet and watching videos to learn, or debugging.
[12:00 pm - 1:00 pm] - Lunch time! 😋
I usually bring a lunch if I'm going in office or make lunch if I'm WFH.
[1:00 pm - 2:30 pm] - More coding
More of any of the points I touched above about coding!
[2:00 pm - 3:00 pm] - Coffee break ☕️ & mentor meetings
Time to refuel! In addition, I take this chance to catch up with my mentor or meet with my mentees. I love being able to give back to those new to the tech world and give them any advice that I wish I had when I was in their position.
[3:00 pm - 4:30 pm] - Wrap up my task
Remember the 3 to-do's I make in the morning? This is the time to wrap up whatever I was working on and anything else on that list that needs to be completed for the day.
[5:00pm - End of Day] - Go home, get my workout in, eat dinner, hobbies, & get lot's of rest before the next day!
This is a rough outline of how my days usually operate but no 2 days ever look the same! Some days I have a ton of meetings and don't have that much time to spend on development. Other days I will have no meetings and can spend the whole day coding.
But overall, if you are thinking of pursuing a career in software engineering, this is what a typical day more or less looks like!
From 👩🏻💻with 💖,