For the second instalment of Bree’s “How To” series on kick starting your career within the Tech Industry she interviewed Faraz Ahmed, Senior Manager of Engineering at Telstra Health. For some of the best tips and tricks in the market, please read their transcript below!

Q) Can you tell us a little about yourself and your career to-date?

I come from a software engineering background and I’m currently responsible for setting up and managing agile teams, developing technology roadmaps and general technical governance. In addition, I am passionate about enterprise architecture, I love solving complex business problems which translate into highly scalable and mission-critical systems both on cloud and on-premise. 

Q) What does your day to day look like?
My day is a mixture of interacting with some great people and designing some great technical solutions. Every day brings some new challenges and business problems to be solved.
Q) What is the best part of your job?

Developing solutions that help save millions of lives is the best part of the job. Knowing that every minute you invest in enhancing an aspect of the solution would help improve some aspect of health for the Australian population gives me and my team a lot of motivation. 

In addition, seeing people succeed in their roles …. and mentoring and developing leaders from within my team is one of the most satisfying aspects. One of my key personal KPIs that I abide with is the number of leaders I develop each year. As a leader, if I can help people develop into leaders in their own space every year, I give myself a pat on the back.

Q) What can graduates do to make their profile standout from the rest?

Hiring managers like myself look for two major aspects of a graduate: passion for the job and capacity to learn. People can generally show passion for software engineering roles by showing their contribution to open source GitHub projects – so an active GitHub profile definitely helps. In addition, any pet projects to explore new tech stacks gives an insight into how keen a person is to learn new stuff. I say this is the age to “Learn, Unlearn and Relearn” and if we people have that skill, that it sets them up nicely for a lot of potential roles. 
Q) What skills are hiring managers looking for the most, when it comes to Juniors / Graduates?
Apart from technical skills displayed via any of the points mentioned above, being able to communicate properly is a skill that cannot be overemphasized. Most developer candidates in particular are not very good conversationalists which makes it hard for them to share ideas and feed off ideas from other people. A good interviewer would always want to understand how well the candidate is able to communicate their ideas to them during an interview. 
Q) What are the common mistakes you see when mentoring Juniors?

I get asked this question a lot “what programming language can I learn that would set me up for a few years” … my answer “none”. I may be wrong since there are quite a few languages that have almost stood the test of time, but I don’t want to give people the perception that they can expect never having to learn anything new again. We are in a very dynamic industry and six months of not learning anything new sets you back by a few years. I would advise people to always be keen to learn new tech stacks and new ways of doing things and never shy away from this part of the job.

Q) What can graduates expect to learn within the first year in the tech industry?

It is a massive jump from developing a university project to developing a commercial project both in terms of the way things are done and time pressures around delivery. In addition, working in a formal process with a team of other people – who may have been in the industry for a long period – is a good change. At the end of the day, the satisfaction of delivering a solution and seeing people use it is something that would be experienced by most graduates for the very first time. 
Q) Where do you foresee the future of tech within the next 5 years?

More languages, faster machines, better cloud environments – although my really ambitious prediction would be that public shared cloud environments are going to give way to more private, dedicated clouds especially for larger enterprises.

Q) What advice would you give to your younger self?

Hang in there!!

With so much happening in the industry, it tends to get overwhelming very quickly. At times, you just need to go with the flow and take things easy. 
Q) Finally, what are your top three tips for breaking into the tech industry?
  • Mentor: Get a mentor who you can trust for any tech advise. There are lot of great people in the industry who are open to helping people, get in touch and ask for advice. 
  • Network: A good network would help you get into your first role quicker. Attend meet-ups, grow your LinkedIn network, meet people for coffee etc. 
  • Be passionate about this job: software development is not for the faint-hearted. There are a lot of times that problems feel unsolvable and people ask themselves whether they have made the right career choice. At times like these, it’s your passion for solving complex problems that is going to get you over the line. 

A huge thanks to Faraz for his time, support and fantastic advice for those trying to take the next step in their career. If you are keen to hear more, stay tuned as we’ll be announcing our next speaker soon!

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