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University of Newcastle
Graduate Software Engineer
Jonathan studied Bachelor of Computer Science at University of Newcastle
What's your job about?
I work as a developer in the Private Wealth Management section of IRESS, this means that I spend the majority of my time developing portfolio management tools, including taking part in an effort to design the new user interface, which is being trialled in the portfolio management sections.
As a developer, my responsibilities revolve primarily around developing for and maintaining XPLAN, a private wealth management web application. Being a full stack developer, my main tasks revolve around developing the resourceful Python API that interface with the services in our Melbourne office that focus on the business logic, and drives the web app, and creating the front end via a ES6/BackBone/Redux framework. This also means that I can spend a lot of my time on bug fixing, because I am far from perfect. To ensure that I produce the highest quality work that I can, I work closely with Business Analysts and Testers to ensure that the features that I write meet all specifications, and work as intended. Addressing failures in either of these areas is usually my top priority for that day.
Another interesting aspect of my position comes from our system of rotation for our highest level of production support. As a developer, I occasionally have to spend a period of around 6 weeks in our highest tier of customer support. Diagnosing and fixing issues that can vary from stack traces, to incorrect data, to removing incorrect/old bootstraps, to full blown site crashes (those are always the most interesting…. And the least fun).
What's your background?
I grew up on the New South Wales Central Coast, in a rather fortunate upper middle class upbringing. As such, I’ve never lacked for opportunity. This includes having access to many, many old, spare computers that my parents would find for cheap from garage sales to the side of the road (which they somehow still manage to do to this day). Given the opportunity to tinker around with computers, I quickly fell in love, a love which was fostered studying IT and basic software development at high school.
Thankfully, this meant I knew fairly early what I wanted to do at university. I was accepted into my number one preference right off the bat. Bachelor of Engineering (Computer)/Bachelor of Computer Science at the University of Newcastle. While I didn’t carry the engineering component through, I definitely enjoyed the experience of being able to expand my knowledge of things like electric circuits, logic design and its application in computing (the actual insides of CPU’s are insanely interesting), and got a chance to do some good old fashioned Assembly programming, which everyone should do once.
I applied for my present job in my final year. As a looming graduate is want to do, I was throwing applications anywhere and everywhere. Found IRESS online, and while I initially didn’t think I had much of a chance, I threw an application there way. One thing led to another, and here I am, already one year down.
Could someone with a different background do your job?
If you have the skills and the drive to better yourself, no matter who you are, you should fit in perfectly somewhere in the team. We have teams that are very social and friendly, and teams that allow you to put your headphones on, focus, and work your magic. I myself belong to a team that prides itself on its high quality, in both development and workplace banter.
Being able to communicate is the most valuable skill you’ll need coming into the workforce, as the ability to ask questions, learn, and interact with other developers is how you’ll gain the skills you need to actually do your job.
What's the coolest thing about your job?
The coolest parts really are the ones that seem the most boring. I love learning about all the financial and wealth management rules and functionality we have to cater for. Primarily because each aspect presents a new challenge to deal with, and as someone who loves his theoretical and algorithmic aspects of his computer science degree, there are a decent amount of aspects where many things I learned at uni come into play. They said I was crazy to focus on the mathematics, well now who’s laughing?!
Me. It’s me. I am the one who laughs.
What are the limitations of your job?
Our application is big. Very big. In fact, it’s too big. While working at IRESS has shown me all the advantages of working at a corporate venture, it has also shown me the drawbacks. XPLAN, our bread and butter, has been in development since the turn of the century, and it definitely shows. I’ve seen commits that date back as far as 2004. This means that sometimes I have a lot of legacy code to sift through. Because we’re a big, corporate venture that has millions and millions of clients, we can’t just rip out the old code and replace it with shiny new code that easily. This means that certain parts of the program are hard to maintain, which is in itself its own challenge. While my experience is definitely valuable and I would recommend it to anyone, it’s not perfect (then again, nothing is).
3 pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...
- Learn to communicate! If you can’t ask questions or convey the thoughts in your head, you’re going to sink quickly. But if you can ask questions, learn, and convey that you know what you’re doing, everyone else will gladly help you with the how.
- Don’t force yourself to work outside of office hours. Whether that be your actual job, or hobby development, remember to give yourself a break when you’ve clocked out. Unless you want to crash and burn in a blaze of glory (and hey, who am I to judge?).
- 2 hour commutes are to be avoided where possible.