Senior Software Engineer
M.S. - Computer
Engineer, writing software and working with electronic circuits
as well as debugging problems and dealing with customers.
"Be prepared for the
fast pace of innovations when you begin to work."
"A typical day, I guess when I have one I can answer that. We do a lot of
different stuff. A typical day usually involves doing technical work.
That's always part of a day. Writing software, debugging problems and
things like that. But that doesn't necessarily mean that you sit inside
your cubicle and you stare at a computer screen all day. A lot of that is
working with customers, working with our support staff, working with our
sales folks to try to solve problems. In addition to doing technical work,
we have to do, we do documentation trying to make sure that we can convey
to people how to use our products. We work with the marketing department
making sure they're giving the right message to customers about what our
products are and what they do. So we do a lot of different stuff."
Ross Sabolcik is a Senior Software Engineer for National Instruments who
enjoys the challenge at work. "I guess what motivates me is always
learning new stuff. Every day when I walk in the door, it's really not
clear to me what's going to happen." He advises students to be prepared
for the fast pace of innovations when they begin to work.
Sabolcik got a bachelor's in electrical engineering and a master's in
computer science. He points out, "I've been out of school about four and a
half years now. And a lot of the things I learned in school are already
outdated. That can be a very intimidating thing in a lot of ways, but part
of what makes it exciting is that there's always new stuff coming along."
How does Sabolcik keep up? He tries to "pick up new skills" by "reading,
going to trade shows, going to conferences." But his principal strategy is
to choose projects in areas he has not worked in before. He explains that
by selecting a project "that's outside of what you know, you learn new
stuff and become more valuable."
In order to get a taste of what it means to be an engineer, Sabolcik
advises students to take part in a coop or internship. He feels he learned
a great deal from his coop experience. "The thing that was valuable about
it was seeing what people really do on a day-to-day basis. You can find
out what people who are engineers actually do; ask them, `What classes did
you find really valuable?' or `What skills do you think I need?' or `What
do you recommend?' The main thing is just getting feedback from people who
are actually doing the work."