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Expectations from a freshman Software Engineer


The views represented in this presentation are author's own ... Growing emphasis is on Smartness', Professionalism', Meritocracy', Growth Potential', etc. ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Expectations from a freshman Software Engineer

Expectations from a freshman Software Engineer
  • Tathagat Varma
  • Engineering Manager,
  • Huawei Technologies India Pvt. Ltd.
  • Bangalore, India
  • tvarma_at_rediffmail.com

  • The views represented in this presentation are
    authors own personal views and do not
    necessarily represent the views of his employers
  • All facts, data, research material referenced
    from the Internet web sites is gratefully
    acknowledged to their respective site addresses
    to highlight their ownership

The last Decade Business Growth
The last Decade Manpower Growth
Business Distribution
Indian Software Industry - Process Maturity Status
This Decade
  • A NASSCOM survey on industry employment indicated
    a growth of 24.4 in 2002-03, to touch 650,000 IT
    professionals from previous years headcount of
    522,250. Of these 205,000 are working in the IT
    software exports industry, 160,000 are employed
    in IT Enabled Services, 25,000 in the domestic
    software market and over 260,000 in user
  • The survey also highlighted the potential
    shortfall of 235,000 people by 2008 if current
    trends of intake of technical talent into the IT
    workforce continue. The demand for software
    professionals is expected to be approximately 1.1
    million people by 2008, however the supply of
    software professionals, based on current trends,
    is projected to be 885,000 by 2008.

Reality Check 1
  • Students who have recently completed their
    courses are facing a reality crash. Riding a wave
    of optimism, they have just completed their
    education. But the fat salary packets of a year
    or two ago and international assignments have
    disappeared. Let alone jobs, they do not even get
    interview calls. The sought-afters have become
    seekers. Companies are swamped with "bench
    strength" and thousands of resumes on their
    websiteswaiting to be processed.
  • Shyam Malhotra (http//www.dqindia.com/content/gue

Reality Check 2
  • Tata Consultancy Services CEO S Ramadorai says,
    "Looking at this against the backdrop of
    Nasscoms 87-billion target for the IT industry
    by 2008, we would need a ten-fold increase in
    management and leadership talent. Hypothetically,
    if an individual is able to earn 40,000 for the
    industry in 2008-09, we need 25 people for each
    million dollars, 25,000 for each billion dollars
    and close to two-and-a-half million for an
    87-billion industry. The challenge lies in our
    ability to find, train and meet the aspirations
    of such a large set of talented people."

Reality Check 3
  • The level of professionalism in the software
    engineering field has suffered greatly over the
    past 5 to 8 years and today appears to be
    reaching a new low. The consequences of this dive
    are larger project cost overruns, more missed
    deadlines, lost revenue and greater opportunity
    costs, lower staff morale, and poorer quality
    software in general. Unfortunately, little is
    being done to change the status quo except to
    continue to hire more young and underqualified
    programmers with low salaries while the
    experienced 'mentors' continue to leave the
    industry in frustration. - 10 Attributes of a
    Professional Software Engineer - Alan Partis

Reality Check 4
  • Amidst the global economic slowdown and cuts in
    technology spending, NASSCOM and McKinsey revised
    the 2008 target figure from 87B to 77B.

Moral of the story ?
  • We are still in the middle of slowdown / downturn
  • Not too many new jobs in software development
  • But the future looks great ! Forecast 2008 is
    still very positive !
  • To achieve Forecast 2008, we must move up the
    value chain
  • To move up the value chain, we need to build
    stronger professionals and stronger leaders /
  • Tomorrows leaders are still in the colleges -
    waiting for their first job !

College Days
  • Campus Recruitment
  • Most campus recruitment happen when the student
    has just entered the final year
  • Most of the real subjects are covered in the
    final year
  • Unfortunately, many of them are electives
    whereas they all should have been regular papers
  • While joining the company
  • Difficult to get good internship experience
  • Not exposed to industrial work practices and work
  • Has inadequate soft-skills to work in a team

In a project team
  • Strengths
  • Knowledge of OS, Data Structure, programming
    languages and maybe, some relevant domain
    knowledge (networks, etc.)
  • Improvement Areas
  • Process Management expose to quality processes
    (process lifecycle, project management, etc.)
  • People Issues - often, there is no real
    preparation to deal with working in a team
  • Perception Corrections - to understand that there
    is indeed life before and after the coding phase !

Indian Software Industry
  • A World-class industry full of global
    opportunities, global exposure - and cutthroat
    competition !
  • Predominant work culture is based on US
    European work methods. A rising trend is based on
    Oriental Work Culture (Japan, Korea, China)
  • We are in Global Competition not in a local
  • Growing emphasis is on Smartness,
    Professionalism, Meritocracy, Growth
    Potential, etc.
  • To compete well in this environment, one has to
    be well-prepared and measure up to the
    expectations of the industry

So, what are we looking for ?
  • Fundamental Technical Skills
  • Software Engineering Skills
  • Basic Exposure to Technology as end-user
  • Soft-Skills

Fundamental Technical Skills
  • Solid Technical Education
  • Discrete Maths, Boolean Algebra, Graph Theory
  • Statistics, Probability Theory, Queuing Theory
  • Data Structures, Compiler Theory, OS
  • Networks, Graphics, Databases, AI
  • Good hands-on work in the lab in C, C, Unix /
    Linux, etc.
  • Problem Solving Skills
  • Ability to abstract a problem and apply
    problem-solving steps to find the solution

Software Engineering Skills
  • You must understand the software lifecycle well
    enough to appreciate what you are supposed to do
    in each phase.
  • You must know how to estimate accurately.
  • You must know an accurate specification when you
    see one, how to fix a poor specification and how
    to write a specification.
  • You must specify deliverables so there is no
    question when you are finished with one.
  • You must know what constitutes adequate
    documentation for both users and maintenance
  • You must know what constitutes adequate quality
  • You must know how to design and write
    professional computer software.
  • http//www.csc.calpoly.edu/dstearns/205/skills.ht

Basic Exposure to Technology as end-user
  • Problem An average freshman software engineer
    has never really used the technology (
    software-driven systems) himself except for VCR
    / DVD, PC, etc. on limited scale.
  • Impact the fundamental capability to appreciate
    and understand the technology is low
  • Good Trends using Cell phones, CD Writers, ATM /
    Credit Cards, Internet Usage,
  • Improvement Areas expose to modern data and
    telecommunications systems (both wireline and
    wireless), railway reservation systems, newspaper
    / magazines data networks,

Why are Soft-Skills so important ?
  • An independent study conducted on CEOs, by
    Stanford Research Institute and Carnegie Mellon
    in the US, found that long-term job success
    depends 75 on people skills and only 25 on
    technical knowledge.
  • Another study done by Harvard University had even
    more startling results 85 of jobs promotions
    happened because of the candidates attitude and
    only 15 due to the facts and figures he packed
    under his belt. (In fact, companies lose almost
    10 - 15 of possible business due to their
    inability to meet the perceived level of services
    linked to soft skills.)

Self Management !
  • Problem An average 20-year old freshman has
    never really been exposed to the self-manage his
    time, his effort, his output, his deliverable
    quality, his commitment management, etc.
  • Impact The fundamental ability to be a team
    member who does not need to be handheld is
    absent. This results in the manager having to
    spend a lot of time with the newcomer. Quite
    often, the newcomer does not realize why his
    performance ratings are low despite doing a good
    coding - the reason could be he is not
  • Improvement Areas Plan your daily tasks well,
    follow the plan and manage your commitments.

Taking Initiative / Being Proactive
  • Problem Most of us wait for instructions from
    our seniors (having been molded in the thought
    that managers job is the assign work and my job
    is to do it) - whereas the expectation is that
    engineers are initiative-driven to learn new
    things, try out new (and risky) ideas, etc.
  • Impact The newcomer is not able to generate a
    good rapport with his manager and is not able to
    become more productive
  • Improvement Areas Explore new ideas. When you
    have free time, try out new things - install new
    OS, write some new program, try out a new tool,
    learn new language, take interest in your
    colleagues work and learn it and help him, etc.

Teamwork Groupwork
  • Problem The problem stems from the fact that our
    traditional school curriculum focus on
    individual excellence (in exams and also in
    getting jobs) whereas, once in the job, we must
    work together to achieve the common goals ! The
    only place where teamwork is emphasized is in
  • Impact Freshmen have no or limited appreciation
    or preparation for teamwork
  • Improvement Areas organize mock sessions /
    war-games on software project lifecycle problems,
    student projects could be designed as a team
    effort, organize group discussions, teambuilding

Time Management
  • Problem We suffer from the traditional mindset
    of Indian Standard time we assume that being
    late is not only OK for the job / task, even
    others might not be expecting us to be on-time.
    Probably except for the Defense Officers, no one
    is either expected nor is actually punctual
  • Impact Globally, we are ridiculed and mistrusted
    for being the worst in this category. This also
    results in some workplace friction while dealing
    with foreigners
  • Improvement Areas Orient students to time
    management principles, set the standards high and
    follow them yourself !

Commitment Management
  • Problem the chalta hai culture we wrongly
    assume that not honoring a commitment is not only
    perfectly OK, even the other person might be only
    half-expecting us to actually honor the
    commitment in the first place !
  • Impact We carry these bad practices to the
    workplace and unknowingly use them at work, which
    results in unpleasant situations with Customer,
    or Boss or even other Co-workers
  • Improvement Areas Improve oneself in commitment
    management - its a question of self-discipline
    and ones own character

Communication Skills
  • Problem Most fresh college graduates have poor
    written and spoken communication skills,
    presentations skills
  • Impact It takes a lot of effort for the manager
    to train the newcomers to be effective
    communicators so that they can fit in the project
    well. Software projects involve a lot of
    communication and poor communicators reduce the
    overall team efficiency
  • Improvement Areas Organize weekly tech-talks,
    seminars, go to schools and teach them computers,
    write for college magazines / newspaper, etc.

  • If there is only one skill you had to pick up, go
    for Attitude.
  • Recruitment mantra Hire for Attitude, train
    for skills
  • Attitude impacts the
  • Flexibility to adapt to changing and adverse
  • Initiative drive, especially when things are not
  • Ability to continue even in the face of
    adversities, and motivate others to also keep
  • Other things being equal, a person will
    professional attitude will grow much more faster
    compared to others

Questioning Interviewing Skills
  • Problem Is it our culture that discourages us to
    question our elders commands ? Globally, people
    always wonder why Indian engineers never ask
    questions and whether they have really understood
    the things or not
  • Impact We lack Interviewing skills to facilitate
    the acquisition of information during
    requirements elicitation / analysis. We never
    question our managers estimates - howsoever
    crazy that might be this results in Death March
    project deadlines remaining unquestioned
  • Improvement Areas Learn how to say NO when you
    have to, how to interview a customer for
    eliciting the requirements, develop listening
    skills, etc.

The Seven Super Smart Traits
  • From Bill Gates in The Microsoft Way
  • Capability of grasping new knowledge quickly
  • Generating acute questions on the spot
  • Perceiving connections between disparate domains
    of knowledge
  • Understanding code (or models, documents) at a
  • Thinking obsessively about the code
  • Concentrating with special intensity
  • Photographic recall of code (or models,
    documents) you have written

  • Success in corporate culture not only depends on
    just technical brilliance or coding knowledge
  • One must change the mindset from just being a
    programmer to being a Software Professional
  • For students, there is a long road ahead. To get
    that extra mileage, you must focus on some key
    skill-building activities from now itself
  • The expectations from the industry are increasing
    every passing day you must be proactive and
    well-prepared to meet them successfully
  • Most of the expectations can be met by sustained
    efforts from individuals
  • If you dont focus on these areas now, you are
    not increasing chances of your success in the
    near- or long-term

  • Managing Technical People Watts S. Humphrey,
    Pearson Education Asia
  • After the Gold Rush Creating a True Professions
    of Software Engineering Steve McConell,
    Microsoft Press

Web References
  • Preparing for Your First Job BEFORE You Graduate
    - Chen Ye (http//cf.acm.org/crc_chris/cri/article
  • To Intern or not to Intern, that is the question
    - Jagannathan Thinakaran (http//cf.acm.org/crc_ch
  • A Professional Software Engineer - Alan Zeichick

Web References...
    PROFESSIONAL PRACTICE - as recommended by the
    IEEE-CS/ACM Joint Task Force on Software
    Engineering Ethics and Professional Practices
  • 10 Attributes of a Professional Software Engineer
    - Alan Partis (http//www.thundernet.com/alpartis/
  • A List of Important Points of Software
    Development - Keiji Ikuta (http//www.iktsoft.com/

Web References...
  • Skills You Need What Employers Want from You -
    Therese Droste (http//adminsupport.monster.com/ar
  • Soft skills training becomes essential for India
    Software Inc - Rajneesh De (http//www.expressitpe

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