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Four key software engineer skills for today’s job market

Senior Software Engineer with Microsoft Sonu Raj emphaises on developing data structure and algorithm skills



“Right from school, I had a keen interest in computers. I was fascinated by the black screen saying, “Hello, World,” narrates Sonu Raj, a Senior Software Engineer with Microsoft. And when Sonu got enrolled in School of Engineering and Technology at Apeejay Stya University (ASU) for his graduation, computers and its different applications became his passion. The Apeejay alumnus started his journey into the world of technology with website development and then gradually switched to mobile application development. After graduating from ASU, he joined Zomato and worked there for five years. Currently, the Software expert  is working with Microsoft. Read on:

Your role at Microsoft?

I am currently working as a Senior Software Engineer at Microsoft. I work in Microsoft 365 mobile team, where I develop features for MS Office specific to Android

How and when did you realise you wished to be a Software Engineer?

I had my interest in computer science right from school and I was sure I wanted to build my career in this field. So it started in school!! 

Key skills one needs to develop to be a software engineer 

For any career, one should follow their passion and interest. Talking specific to software development, I feel one should build the following skills:

Exposure to practical knowledge: While we learn a lot from the university/school, one should get some practical knowledge by creating a few projects and seeing how things are done in the real world. For this, there are a lot of free materials available on the internet.

Data structures and algorithms: Although freshers might feel data structure and algorithm don’t play an essential role in a real-life project, they are the building blocks which help you think about how to solve a problem

Focus on what you like: There are many things to explore in software engineering. One should know what one wants and what they are passionate about 

Practice: I have seen people giving up on coding and problem-solving; it requires practice and patience. The more time you spend, the more straightforward it will get. 

Also Read: ‘Your skills will fetch you a job’

From working with the global online firm, Zomato to being associated with Microsoft, what are your crucial learnings during this professional journey?

Zomato and Microsoft are very different companies, and I have had different learnings. When I joined Zomato, it was in its early stage with only 40 developers. We had to put extra effort into ensuring everything ran smoothly as we were outnumbered. At Zomato, I learned to do it all by myself, and I learned how to be a great individual contributor. At Microsoft, I learned how to scale your software to a large audience. 

To be a software engineer, how important is it to be good in mathematics? Which are the focus areas for preparation?

I think mathematics plays a vital role in understanding data structure and algorithms, which will help you become a sound software engineer. But if someone is not so great at it, there is nothing to be worried about, one can master it with practice, and it is never too late. Area to focus in Mathematics: Combination and Permutation and a basic understanding of Mathematics. 

How did Apeejay prepare you for the job market?  

Apeejay helped me in learning in class as well as outside of the university by letting me participate in various tech events, some of which were 72 hours long Hackathons. Apeejay helped me manage my classes and sponsored me to attend these events. Because of the guidance I received at Apeejay, I won a global Hackathon, and as a result, I got a lot of job offers from different companies. 

How do you strike a work-life balance and keep yourself motivated to work?

Microsoft is the best place for keeping a work-life balance. Here working with the most intelligent people in the world keeps me motivated. I learn new things every day from the people I work with. In general, I keep myself motivated by learning new things by myself, and helping others who are new. Helping others gives me a very different energy. 

What’s the life mantra that you follow?

I follow the ‘NEVER GIVE UP’ mantra. What I have learned from my experience in software engineering and development is that it can sometimes be frustrating, so have patience and keep practising. Also, there is always something new coming into the market, and keeping yourself updated is essential, which requires patience and a ‘NEVER GIVE UP’ mentality.

Harshita is Assistant Editor at Apeejay newsroom. With experience in both the Media and Public Relations (PR) world, she has worked with Careers360, India Today and Value360 Communications. A learner by nature, she is a foodie, traveller and believes in having a healthy work-life balance.