An interview is increasingly regarded as a strategic tool for gaining a clear insight into the professional field. Hence, the interview with the professional software engineer has been a positive experience in terms of professional and educational growth. It is worth noting that the interviewee, Yaxin C., is a friend of mine; therefore, he was willing to provide valuable information concerning the professional perspectives. On June 5, we met for an informal meeting in the local restaurant in order to discuss the job description and the organizational issues, which the interviewee encountered on a daily basis. Importantly, Mr. C. is an experienced software engineer, who writes various codes in order to allow chips to interact with iOS by Apple. Additionally, the programmer is responsible for managing a group of 10-12 software developers; this task requires a high managerial competence. Needless to say, Apple Computer, Inc. has a worldwide reputation for its reliability and sustainability. Thus, it can be easily assumed that Yaxin C. is one of the employees that contribute daily to delivering high-quality and eco-friendly products. Eventually, the input from the interview seems to have a beneficial effect on my learning as Yaxin C. epitomizes the employees of an organization that has been at the cutting edge of the global software technology for several decades now. It is to be admitted that the following interview was tape recorded.
Question and Answer Section
T. Why did you choose to be a software engineer?
C. Back in high school, I showed a remarkable aptitude for science and math. It was quite natural for me to continue my education in the field of computer science. I have always enjoyed solving different logical problems and puzzles. Now, I do it daily at work.
T. Why writing codes and programs are frequently considered an art rather than an engineering discipline?
C. I would say that it is a measured part of both. Good programming usually involves the profound knowledge of theoretical concepts, as well as creative approaches to finding efficient software solutions as there is no set way, in which a developer is coding.
T. From your perspective, what are the typical difficulties that a software developer encounters while searching for this solution?
C. First, a good engineer always has to keep thinking about the creative ways of designing the programs within the fixed time. Meanwhile, the codes are to be thoroughly designed in order to identify and eliminate all any bugs. The serious difficulties, however, arise when comments to the codes are written in an inappropriate way; it creates certain problems for other co-workers to decode them. In a while, a developer himself may find it rather problematic to understand own codes easily.
T. What kind of jobs and experiences are required to hold your current position?
C. My first job was with different start-up companies, which were writing smart-phone apps. Though I never dreamt to be a software engineer as such, this job did give me a great deal of experience that enabled me to work for Apple, Inc. afterward. Certainly, I had to take an internship in the company, to become a software engineer and project manager.
T. So, your company is well-known for its sustainable and eco-conscious policy. What are the major environmental concerns for your company? What are your greatest accomplishments in reducing the environmental impact?
C. While designing the innovations, we are focusing on reusing and recycling, as not everything can be easily replaced. Our planet has a limited supply of natural resources; therefore, it is our priority to ensure that the next generations have access to them. At the early stage of designing projects, we think of what materials can be reused for as many times as possible. We closely cooperate with the Conservation Fund and many other environmental organizations in order to protect the sustainably managed resources such as forests and clean water. Not long ago, we started the new micro-hydro project that aims at powering all the local centers with renewable energy. However, there is still much work to be done. Now, we are trying to find ways of reducing the environmental impact of carbon footprint produced in the process of shipping our products all over the world.
T. You are currently working in close cooperation with the developers from other departments, as well as with the clients. What is the most challenging for you: managing the work of your team or satisfying clients’ demands?
C. Well, it depends. In most cases, customers’ demands are the biggest challenge for the whole team. Sometimes, a customer does not have a clear understanding of what he or she actually wants so that we have to be resilient and open-minded enough to adapt to any changes. Once, we discussed all the technical issues, signed the documents, designed the project and then the customer changed his mind so that we had to start over again.
T. How can you describe the working atmosphere in your department?
C. I should say that I am lucky to work with such highly qualified professional people, who are constantly trying to find some time for self-improvement. I must admit that the computer industry continues to develop steadily. If something is important today, it does not necessarily mean that it will be so important tomorrow. It is, therefore, essential to learning something new each day. Our team members are always sharing the new ideas, innovations, and breakthroughs in the field with each other so that a friendly atmosphere is created at work.
T. Can you give me an example of an ethical dilemma that you have encountered?
C. As you know, the company is obligated to uphold the human rights of employees, as well as treat them fairly and equally. However, sometimes, we face situations when a difficult choice has to be made. For example, one of my colleagues claimed that he had been intentionally discriminated against on the basis of age. Indeed, the employee is over forty years old and belonged to the protective class. At the beginning of the previous month, he applied for the position of a project manager but did not win his promotion. Instead, the vacant position was offered to the employee, who was less than forty years old. Though the performance rates of both candidates were above average, the newly promoted employee demonstrated more enthusiasm and commitment, which determined the authorities’ choice. Hence, it may be assumed that it is a matter of free competition rather than age discrimination.
T. What is the effect of oral and written communication on your professional career?
C. In fact, there had been a high demand for the position I am holding now. So, my competitive advantage was the politeness that I demonstrated in communicating with the staff members and management. To the broadest extent, this kind of work heavily depends upon the communication whether it is oral reports or written presentations. I always actively try to formulate my thoughts in a concise and comprehensive way. Thus, many technical problems and personal issues can be easily avoided or resolved. Clearly, communication plays an increasingly important role in achieving business goals, as well as creating a friendly environment within the team.
T. Are there any special requirements that an outstanding software engineer needs to possess in order to organize the work of a team of 10-12 developers?
C. For me, an effective manager is a person with strong communicative skills. Engineers’ work varies depending on the tasks they perform within the department; therefore, close cooperation and feedback are indispensable aspects of leadership excellence. It is particularly important to ensure efficient communication between all employees, especially when it comes to decision-making.
T. As far as I am concerned, you are working with many software developers from different countries all around the world, including the Indians, Chinese, Hongkongese, Singaporeans, Koreans, etc. How do you manage the communication?
C. For starters, the video-conferencing can be an effective tool that replaces face-to-face communication. In such a way, we discuss project issues with our international partners and receive immediate feedback. Nevertheless, the following method of virtual communication suffers greatly from a serious drawback. To be more precise, it may be somewhat difficult to coordinate the schedule with the partners from Asia, as the video-conferencing requires the same time-zone. In terms of practicality, instant messaging is considered the most reasonable method for solving the problems of low complexity. However, the employees are required to type quickly and generate spontaneous ideas that are not always thoroughly thought out. It is worth mentioning that English is the second language of our international partners; this fact also poses another problem for them to type at a fast pace. Consequently, it may lead to misunderstanding and cause conflict.
T. And if the co-workers did come into conflict, what do you usually do to handle it?
C. I believe that the core problems of all serious disagreements lie in the lack of communication between the team members. That is why; careful consideration will be given to fostering the communication between the conflicting parties. Besides, the feedback will be actively encouraged so that it is easier for me to identify the ongoing changes in the working environment timely. What is more, the employees’ primary needs should be always taken into account. For instance, it is essential to demonstrate constantly the opportunities for advancement in order to keep them motivated.
T. And what are your career prospects for the next ten years?
C. I believe that the position of a senior software engineer is a sort of job that I would care for. I have always dreamt of managing the work of several departments, setting visions, timelines, budgets of the projects, etc.
In conclusion, it is appropriate to make a general comment on the overall impression of the personal interview with Yaxin C., the Apple software engineer. It is fair to say that the following experience is beneficial for my engineering career for many reasons. First of all, the characteristics of a contemporary software developer were discussed and presented in the interview. Evidently, Mr. C. contributed to creating a vivid image of an engineer with profound professional skills and personal qualities, which would serve me as a role model for my future career. Moreover, the interviewee covered such related issues as the nature of software engineer’s work and his personal job experiences that gave him an opportunity to hold his current position. By the same token, Mr. C. gave some insights into the work of the industry-leading company: the communication process, environmental policy, and ethical codes. Eventually, the interviewee provided me with numerous examples of difficult situations he had to deal with; consequently, I received an opportunity for further analysis and serious consideration.