Keeping Up With the Engineers

Software engineering is a popular profession, but you have to constantly refresh your skills

One of the main drivers for Hristo Gueorguiev to register for the Certificate Program in Software Development and Programming was just a basic fact for software engineers.

As he puts it, “Continued education and learning are critical to being successful in the software engineering profession.” Software engineers need to keep up to date with the latest tools, techniques and problem-solving shortcuts in this rapidly evolving field.

That need for continuing education is somewhat ironic in that software engineers can be successful without much formal education. According to a 2017 Stack Overflow survey, about three-quarters of professional developers only have a bachelor’s degree or less formal education. But, that same study shows that developers “love to learn,” with 90 percent favoring self-study and almost half reporting that they took an online course.

Proving that he is part of the self-educating cohort of engineers, Hristo took a raft of online courses through LinkedIn Learning. He also made use of Udemy as an educational resource. But something was missing as part of his educational needs. Hristo was looking for a more structured set of courses that wasn’t available through those providers.

Online Convenience

For those, like Hristo, who prefer the structure and support that comes from programs such as our certificate program, the online modality of the courses made it perfect for a working professional.

“Especially for people who have busy schedules and working professionally,” Hristo describes, “being able to fit things into your own timetable and break down the work into small enough themes is key. If you have just an hour or even 40 minutes open in your schedule, you can find a piece of work where you can do that—even if it's going through a discussion that normally you wouldn't be able to do asynchronously if it was a more traditional learning environment.”

Learning From Those Who Are in the Trenches

The ability to learn from veterans in the industry was another benefit that sparked Hristo’s enthusiasm for our program.

Hristo laughs as he shares thoughts on his favorite instructor. “Honestly, I think just the wealth of experience that he's able to offer,” this graduate affirms when he talks about Andy Oppel.

“He’s somebody who’s been in the industry, in the trenches, for decades who can provide a lot of experience that normally might not come up in a just purely academic environment. “I felt like he balanced both the academic side of things, providing a lot of history,” Hristo continues. “But he was able to really root those concepts into use cases because he has such a long work history in the industry.”

Oppel’s work history is quite impressive: He’s held data-driven roles at Levi Strauss & Co., Oracle, Geoworks, Ceridian, Blue Shield of California, Safeway and GoodData, among other prestigious companies. And he’s been sharing this wealth of professional knowledge with our students since 1983 and earning an Honored Instructor title along the way!

Translating Coursework Into Work

That real-world education immediately paid off on the job for Hristo, as he was able to apply his learning directly toward his duties as a principal full-stack engineer at software-as-a-service company Catalant Technologies.

“We're growing as a business,” Hristo shares. “We're ending up with a lot more data and we want to get a lot more insights, so we're building out our analytic infrastructure and looking for the best solutions that are feeding our use case. There were some direct applications of the learning: hearing about the pitfalls that are maybe not quite so obvious when it comes to implementing one solution versus another solution. Those are the kinds of learnings from class that really came to be pretty useful for me as we were growing our analytics infrastructure.”

Advice for Software Engineers and Aspiring Software Engineers

It’s no surprise that Hristo thinks in a logical manner. That clearheadedness is a mark of an engineer, of course. It is also mirrored in his advice to fellow students and engineers who are thinking of pursuing our certificate program.

“I think most importantly,” he shares, “know that you will be busy and not likely to get through the material at the same pace as when school was your full-time occupation. Divide the work for courses into small actionable steps with good breaking points and fit those steps in openings for focused work that are present in your schedule.

“A steady and consistent approach can be less stressful, allow you to enjoy the experience and get the most out of it. As well as maintain some semblance of work/life balance.”

No Time Like the Present

Hristo has a final few words of advice for fellow professionals who are considering continuing education with us.

“I would say, ‘Just get started.’ As working professionals, we are all busy and often put off learning opportunities like these because of our tight schedules. The wonderful thing about this certificate is that it is truly self-paced, so just get started on the path to a certificate and work through the curriculum as your time allows.”