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Behind the role: Junior Software Engineer

Hannah Johnston

Mar 30, 2023
min read

We recently sat down with Rushenka to get a feel for her journey to becoming a Junior Software Engineer at Vodafone.

Welcome to Behind the Role! In this series, we look at the real-life experiences behind different early career roles through the people who have done them first-hand.

What makes you feel alive, Rushenka?

Rushenka: That's a really good question. I think doing something that I really love and knowing that I'm doing it to the best of my ability, I guess feeling like I'm making an impact with what I'm doing. And that doesn't necessarily speak only to my field of work.

It's even with hobbies and everything else, I just like doing things. I don't think I like being idle. I like to draw in my free time. So even with that, yeah, it's just like feeling like I'm being productive and happy with what I'm doing.

How did you land a Junior Software Engineering Role?

Rushenka: In the software engineering space, my first role was at TPG, but interestingly I actually studied design before this pathway.  So I came from a completely different world and jumped to the other side of my brain. But yeah, in the software engineering world, it was TPG (Vodafone). Previous to this, I studied in Sri Lanka, before I moved to Australia. I did two years of a Graphic Design degree and then shifted to UNSW Sydney to continue studying design and get into animation. Then I happened to take one course on computer science, and I had never thought I would. Then I thought, oh, this is actually nice. I feel like this challenged me to the right amount. So I thought, why not just switch?

What does a day in your life look like as a Junior Software Engineer?

Rushenka: I usually start off in the morning just looking through emails, just to make sure that I'm not missing out on anything or anyone, any conversations that I have to kind of keep track of. And afterwards, we have our typical team stand-up, which is about an hour after work starts. So a stand-up is usually where technically if we were working face to face, we would actually stand up and sort of give our updates.

But because I'm working remotely, we usually join on our meeting space and we each kind of, like, spend about two to three minutes talking about what we're working on, what we did work on previously, and any sort of things to flag with our managers and anything that's currently blocking. And then typically after the stand-up, we work on specific tasks at any given time.

So I would continue with the tasks that I'm currently working on, or if not, sort of like another thing that I do is also run releases if I'm rostered on for running a release in the week. So every day is different, but that's typically the format. And then we usually take lunch and then continue working. And I would usually have sort of one on one sessions with my manager as well, check-ins and sort of like even mentoring sessions. So, yeah, that's usually what my work days are sort of like.

What are some of the challenges you faced in the early days?

Rushenka: I think most of my challenges were probably in the first few months because when I joined. I was, like, the only graduate, the youngest. And also, I guess, being a female as well, I found it a bit intimidating because I was around a lot of these experienced engineers who are also males, not that it was an issue.

So I think with all of those challenges, it was something I was thinking about, but everyone was really nice at work. If ever I had issues and had a lot of questions I felt like I could ask them, so many people were there to help tell me the answers or if something went wrong helped me through it. So now I feel like I'm doing the same to people who are joining newly.

That’s been pretty rewarding. But I would say, yeah, those are the little things at the start. Now, not so much. I would say that even if I find something is an issue, or I find that, oh, I don't know this, what do I do? I'm not afraid of it. I feel like I've adapted that mentality where like, okay, let's just dive in. If I'm stuck, I can always find my way through. And I think that's a precious thing I've learned through my time at TPG.

What advice would you give to an aspiring Junior Software Engineer?

Rushenka: I feel like when you're when you are applying for roles, you have all these thoughts of doubt thinking how this role looks. Intimidating, but it's something I really want to get to, maybe I'm not ready for it. Especially if you're freshly out of uni and you haven't had any experience. All those thoughts of like, I can't do it, maybe I'm not good enough.

I think the biggest thing there is to think that you have to try and you'd never know until you're in that position when you're actually really doing the role, you're thinking, oh, I actually know this. And if you find others who are just like you, who are still learning along the way or who've been where you were and they'll share with you how they got through those little hiccups.

So I think it's trying and actually diving in, that would be what my main advice, just like, don't think, just like what the worst that could happen is you getting through maybe the first or second interview and then maybe not going through, but you'll actually learn something even from that experience of the interviews as well. So I would think diving in, yeah. And then while in your role.

On top of this, I would say not to be afraid to ask questions and being vulnerable is fine because everyone's aware that you're new. And if you're lucky like I was, everyone's going to be super sweet about it, and they're going to be like it's great that you're asking questions, because that's what we want to see. That means you care. So, yeah, I would say just ask the questions, and volunteer for things. When someone says, looking for someone to do this, even if it's scary, I used to be like, yeah, I would do it, but the only thing is I don't know how to do it. Teach me how. And they would find that very good and they remember that. So that's how you sort of build your profile with your colleagues as well. So I would say volunteering and asking questions, it's been great.

Not particularly any resources in that space. I think what fooled me mostly was on a personal note, actually, I applied to get into this company that I really wanted to get into. This is while I was still in uni and I didn't get through the first interview and I was like, no, that's the end of interviews for me, I'm not going to go, this is it, I'm terrible, all of that. And I just took it really bad and it took me a while before and I had really good friends who kind of told me, don't, this is just your first . People have to apply to so many jobs in order to get into the role they're meant to be doing. And I think that low point really fooled me. And then the very next job that I did apply for was through Hatch and I got in.

I think mostly for me, the encouragement was from my teammates and my boss is really amazing. You learned so much. And I think mostly it's having that environment, like that nurturing environment, and I feel like I have that exactly. It's having that right balance of them not giving you that space to actually try the things you want and not policing you as well. So I think definitely it's the environment and that drives that you bring along with you. I would think the same

Why do you choose Hatch to find work?

Rushenka: I joined Hatch just over a year ago! I actually think I think I saw a newsletter sent to me, and I have heard about Hatch before because I've had friends who've done internships with you while we were in Uni. When I was applying through Hatch, the fact that you wanted me to put out a video and sort of, like, talk about why I want to apply for this role, talk about myself, I found that very valuable. Because I felt like Hatch really focused on the person first. Like why you're motivated to do this rather than okay, what do you know? Tell me, answer this question, and all of that. So I think that the value of focusing on the person first and then what you're bringing into the table, I found that very valuable. And plus all the other extra care, all the advice that was given, and the approach that it was meant to be like, if you don't like it, you go on to the next company So yeah, I think it was the focus on the personal side. I’m glad to be a part of the community.

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