Before he even sat down for his first lecture, Chester Booker was sure he wanted to specialise in Software Engineering. Within his first year he knew he made the right choice.
Career: Protégé Developer at MYOB
Programme: Bachelor of Engineering (Honours)
Specialisation: Software Engineering
“When I was looking at my options for tertiary study, I knew that my career path was going to be something in IT, and the ultimate decision was between Software Engineering and Computer Science. I was torn until just before the applications in terms of which one I wanted to do. Computer Science I felt was more flexible, I could do other sciences at the same time, but I kind of didn't want to do that.
“The appeal to Software Engineering was that it was more focused. The only thing that made me hesitant was that the entire first year of a Bachelor of Engineering is core courses. I was so set on Software Engineering that I didn’t want to do the rest. In hindsight, it was actually quite interesting and I learned a lot across a broader spectrum.
“The other thing that stood out was the final year project. When I finished it, I was glad I chose Engineering over Computer Science, because that year-long project really boosted my confidence. It gave me the confidence I needed when talking to potential employers in interviews.
“My final year project focused on a carpooling application. I was trying to figure out what obstacles prevent people from carpooling and how can an application solve and overcome these problems, whether it be through user interface or just helping people to organise a car pool to go somewhere.
“None of the technologies I used in this projects crossed over into my current role, but quite a lot of the foundational understandings of the technologies did. NoSQL databases and a lot of the Facebook APIs and the Google APIs translate quite nicely into similar APIs and technologies we use at MYOB.
“Being in this protégé role quite a lot of my focus is on learning. So it's less about delivering value and more about learning as we grow into the next stage. So in the morning I'll come in and maybe do a couple of hours of just self-learning, exploring and doing practice projects. Then we'll have a stand up meeting with our team and figure out what the next following task is. Then it could either be pairing with someone of a higher experience or doing a mob programme where three or more of us work together.
“I would 100 per cent tell people to join the Software Engineering Students Association, overall they were really awesome. It also helped being in that group because you had the whole range of year levels that you could talk to. I remember talking to a third or fourth year who told me 'make sure you know these two papers because they will apply to your job later on'.
“I would also encourage people to be more active. There's a lot of internship kind of things like Summer of Tech and the Microsoft Accelerator. Even when you don't know much, that will increase your knowledge exponentially and you will be sussed for the rest of your degree if you get on board that early.
“There are scholarship options too. I was awarded the Kick Start Merit Scholarship which benefitted me in two ways. It kind of took away that financial stress a little bit because it alleviated having to pay for books and loans and everything. That was nice. The other thing was it kind of helped me to work harder. Being rewarded for my hard work in college encouraged me to keep going, because I was already getting the rewards for it.”