Vancouver Career Spotlight is an interview-style blog series that features the amazing professionals that live and work in the Greater Vancouver area. Our vision is to showcase the many career opportunities that exist in Vancouver and provide inspiration to the future generation of workers and career changers.
Patrick Lam is a Software Developer at Conexiom, a cloud solutions company that automates sales orders, in Vancouver. He obtained his Bachelor of Science in Computer Science degree from Simon Fraser University.
Why did you choose this career path?
I am a big nerd when it comes to solving puzzles and problems. I also happen to love tech so this was the perfect path for me. I love the thought of creating something that many people across the globe can see and use. Technology has the ability to help and change the world, and that is something I wanted to be a part of. I’m hopeful for what the future will bring.
What are your main responsibilities?
I am responsible for creating features for our technical product as well as maintaining them. This also includes fixing any bugs, optimizing code, and making sure I address any critical issues from our customers. Creating anything requires all the information you can get, so I spend a large part of my time gathering requirements from our customers either directly or through our product owner, and planning how I am going to implement a feature. I participate in meetings around product feature plannings, what needs to get done before product release dates and any meetings with different departments when needed.
What are the opportunities for career growth and advancement?
The best part about this field is that there is so much to learn and no real ceiling. As you become more experienced and well-versed in different technologies, you will be able to move up higher to different levels of a developer. You could go stick to your craft and move up to a senior developer or perhaps even a software architect. There are opportunities to become a technical director or even go into management if you are more drawn towards the business side of things. The possibilities are endless. Being a developer opens all kinds of doors for you. You just have to take action and take the opportunities as they come.
What kind of person would like a career as a Software Developer?
Someone who loves the thrill of constantly learning and solving problems from big to small, virtual and real. If you want a real impact on the world, then look no further. As a real world example, the company I work for deals with automation of sales orders. Because of what I do, medical supply distributors were able to send out products and supplies 35% to 50% faster because of our software services.
What is a common misconception people have about Software Developers?
You could imagine that being a software developer, you would be spending most of your time writing code. That is definitely not the case. In reality, it is a lot of planning, designing, gathering information, research, and collaboration. You won’t be sitting at your desk all day just typing away. It’s not a solitary job by any means either. Communication is key in this field and you’re going to find yourself talking to all kinds of people whether it be your fellow developers, project manager, customer operations, or clients.
What school subjects would a person in this career typically excel in?
If you plan on pursuing a career in Software Development, you should be comfortable with math. Try to take any calculus classes offered at your high school. It will make university a little easier. The actual math is not the most important. What it will do is teach you how to solve problems and how to think in a structured and technical manner. It would be good to take any computer-related courses your school offers as well.
What type of education would you typically need to work as a Software Developer?
Generally, you will need a bachelor’s degree in computer science, computer engineering, or anything related. I have seen people get by with coding boot camps and/or being self taught. Research all your options and see what’s best for you.
For me, I went the traditional route and enrolled in a university for a 4 year BSc. Computer Science degree. While I was there, I made sure to take advantage of my co-op department and got many internships.
What are the best programs to get this education?
SFU and UBC both have very good computer science programs. They have connections with a lot of companies to land you internships while you complete your degree. BCIT is another local school that offers a similar program. If you want the best of the best in Canada, you will be looking at the University of Waterloo or University of Toronto. Keep in mind that your school does not necessarily mean too much. At the end of the day, it all comes down to how good you are with the technologies in your arsenal. It will be up to you to hone those skills.
What types of organizations would typically hire a Software Developer?
Pretty much any technology company you can imagine. You could work at one of the many big name companies such as Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Samsung, etc. If you prefer to work in games, then you can become a game developer. Software is such an important part of our lives so there are endless opportunities to work in any type of company you may like. People also have successful careers in health tech and or get involved in Fintech (Financial Technology).
What advice would you give to someone who is interested in pursuing a career as a Software Developer?
Do as many internships as you can get your hands on. Work experience is so much more valuable than anything you will learn in school. Always be thirsty for knowledge and always ask why. The internet is full of information from tutorials to free online courses. Get used to learning on your own. You don’t have to wait to get started! Start by creating something, even if it’s small. You’ll be amazed how much you will grow as an aspiring programmer/developer/engineer.
Connect with Patrick on LinkedIn.
I hope you enjoyed this Career Spotlight interview about the software developer career track. Below are additional resources if you’re interested in researching this career further. Feel free to ask questions in the comments. If you’re interested in seeing if this career is right for you, send us a message here, and let’s help you find a career that aligns with your personality, interests, and goals.
More information about Software Developers in BC:
WorkBC – Computer programmers and interactive media developers (earnings, workforce statistics, related careers, etc.)
Education Programs (in the Greater Vancouver area):
Note: Not all post-secondary schools and training institutions are listed. To find a school in your area, you can use EducationPlannerBC.