Is Software Engineering Hard? (With Student Quotes)

A lot of people run across problems in the realm of software engineering. Programming is either their thing or it isn’t. But most people fall somewhere in the middle.

Is software engineering challenging then?

Because you need both technical expertise and the capacity for creative thought, software engineering is challenging. A lot of practice is also necessary. Additionally, it involves creating user interfaces and generating documentation in addition to developing code.

I’ll discuss why software engineering is challenging, strategies for making it less difficult, and advice on how to become a great software engineer in this article.

I enquired whether it was better to study computer science or software engineering from a few of my software engineer buddies who attended Stanford and Georgia Tech.

Software Engineering and Software Development Code

What Is Software Engineering and What Does a Software Engineer Do?

The process of writing computer programs is known as software engineering (SE). Writing code, testing it, fixing errors, and maintaining it over time are all parts of software engineering. The purpose of a software engineer and the programs they produce is to address certain problems and improve everyone’s quality of life.

The development, upkeep, and use of software systems are covered in the interdisciplinary SE major. Understanding technology, science, and math is necessary to come up with solutions to problems.

Nearly every industry employs software engineers, who are typically involved in the development and deployment of networks and software. Information technology, computer networking, and computer science are more related topics of study.

Software engineers are involved in producing networking and software, including as but not limited to:

  • Application programs
  • Systems software (operating system)
  • Middleware
  • Services
  • Web applications

Making high-quality software that meets user needs while minimizing costs and maintenance time is the aim of software engineering.

The people who develop software products are known as software engineers. They test and maintain these things as well.

They must be able to work well alone, with others, communicate well, and exhibit critical thinking.

Additionally, business domains and industry trends may be something that software engineers need to be aware of. They must to be able to analyze issues and come up with solutions. They ought to be able to assess a situation and determine the most effective course of action.

They should be able to communicate clearly with other team members and stakeholders.

Software Engineer at Desk

Is Software Engineering Hard?

Software engineering is challenging due to the breadth of its scope. You must write code in addition to that. There are a lot of other considerations while creating a system. Numerous concepts, including software design, architecture, development procedures, testing, deployment, etc., must be understood.

A skilled developer should also be familiar with how the systems they create function. You must be knowledgeable on the newest trends and tools if you want to succeed.

It needs a wide range of abilities to create software. You must be able to think critically, solve problems, and communicate clearly with others.

These days, there are several tools at your disposal. But if you’re not careful, you may spend a lot of time trying to decide which tool to employ rather than doing your work.

You might have to work on several projects at once as a software engineer. It’s possible that you’ll be requested to create a website, a mobile app, a web service, or even a logo.

Even if there are numerous ways to complete each assignment, it’s always a good idea to keep the client’s preferences in mind.

If you are a team player, you should also consider the needs of your teammates. As the project’s leader, it is your responsibility to ensure that everyone is on board and contributing to the project’s success.

Because it is a subfield of engineering, the first two years won’t be simple either. Additionally, you must complete the prerequisite courses for your engineering major.

Since they have never studied at this level previously, many students struggle in these classes. These courses are frequently referred to as “weeding out” classes.

Here is a list of classes you might need to take in your first two years of software engineering school:

  • Calculus 1, 2 & 3
  • Computer Architecture
  • Computer Systems Fundamentals
  • Data Structures and Algorithms
  • Differential Equations
  • Discrete Math
  • Electromagnetism and Waves
  • English Composition
  • Introduction to Engineering
  • Linear Algebra
  • Mechanics
  • Object-Oriented Programming
  • Physics 1 and 2
  • Principles of Programming

The quantitative courses will assist you in learning the fundamentals of math, physics, engineering, and technology before you move on to the technical programs for your major.

You’ll go to more specialized classes after finishing the core classes. Depending on the institution you attend and the subject you want to study, the courses you take will vary.

You’ll start by studying the fundamentals of computer science. After that, you will study databases, operating systems, networking, graphics, cryptography, artificial intelligence, automata theory, algorithms, software engineering, and quality control.

Students frequently give up when they realize how challenging their classes are. Students frequently struggle to understand the concepts in software engineering since it contains so much math and physics.

Additionally, learning software engineering takes a long time, especially if you want to work as a developer full-time.

Many students are unable or unwilling to devote more than 40 hours a week to studying, homework, and review. As a result, many students drop out of school or change their majors before graduating.

Software developers must approach both issues and solutions critically. They must understand why and how things operate as they do. They must therefore be able to address difficulties using logic and reason.

Matt Shuse, a software engineer who went to school at Georgia Tech, says, “The hardest part of software engineering isn’t getting used to thinking in algorithms and learning a programming language. It’s getting used to not knowing if you can do the next task.”

Software engineers are always delving into the unknown when asked to come up with novel solutions for issues. Thus, they must constantly be informed about emerging technology. Given how quickly technology develops, it requires ongoing labor, but when they are able to resolve issues, it is tremendously fulfilling.

Software Engineer at Desk

How Do I Become a Software Engineer?

There are various paths to become a software engineer.

A bachelor’s degree in computer science or software engineering is a wonderful place to start if you want to become a software engineer. Because they have greater experience, particularly with large projects, some businesses prefer to hire candidates with master’s degrees.

You may enroll in a nearby college or university, or you could earn your degree from a recognized, accredited online institution. There are also programs that grant you a certificate rather than a 4-year degree. You can do this to learn more and develop experience without spending as much on tuition.

If you want to start working sooner or don’t have the money for a four-year degree, there are other options to learn how to code. You can enroll in a coding bootcamp or learn on your own with all the different online resources out there, like YouTube.

Most online bootcamps last three to six months and emphasize training students on how to code in one programming language. Teachers teach and demonstrate to students how to complete tasks using various technologies. The students then apply what they have learned in the real world.

Most bootcamp graduates can get entry-level software developer positions with the minimal experience they have. Many businesses hire them because there’s still a lack of talent out in the market.

Learning to code takes a lot of effort and time. On-the-job training is a great option for companies because they’re able to hire less-experienced software engineers on a lower salary and train them exactly for what the job entails.

If you want to learn by yourself online, a number of free courses are also provided by universities and other organizations. While some of these courses are quick and simple, others are lengthy and difficult to master.

Start small and then challenge yourself with more difficult projects as you learn more. Working on small projects and completing them will improve your coding skills. Build on each successful project and increase your project sizes with time as well.

How to Learn Software Development on Your Own?

I constantly advise folks to start by building something on their own. Start with a straightforward task. Doing something is the best way to improve at it.

You might want to attempt making something bigger when you finish your first project. You might not even be aware that there are other approaches to reach the same destination if you have never programmed before.

Choose one language to start with and learn the fundamentals of each one, such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript, jQuery, PHP, Python, Java, C++, etc. Choose one—it doesn’t matter which—but just one!

Attempt to comprehend each concept completely. You can find tutorials online if you don’t comprehend things. If you don’t immediately comprehend everything, don’t worry; just keep going back until you do.

After mastering the fundamentals, you can advance to more challenging subjects like databases, APIs, and web servers. Make an effort to create something that combines all of these concepts.

If you feel like you need some structure, enroll in some online courses. I believe your first step should be to enroll in a programming course that covers the fundamentals while placing more of a focus on logic and problem-solving. This will be useful for you as you begin developing larger objects.

Anytime is a good moment to start using Udemy, edX, or Coursera. However, you ought to consider enrolling in a class if you want to learn more. After all, mastering anything will require a lot of effort and time.

Some common programming languages that are good for beginners are:

  • Python – Python is a scripting language that is easy to learn and is often used for building websites. It’s great for people who are just starting out because it’s easy to understand.
  • JavaScript – JavaScript is a very popular programming language for building websites. It’s easy to learn, and there are a lot of people who do it.
  • PHP – PHP is another language that is often used to build websites. It’s like ASP.NET, so people who already know ASP.NET will like it.
  • Ruby – Ruby is a general-purpose programming language that is dynamic and based on objects. It was made so that programmers would like it.

No matter what you decide, you should always have a project you’re working on, so you’re writing code for at least an hour every day. You won’t finish what you started if you get sidetracked and start doing other things.

Software Engineering Title

What Does It Take to Be a Successful Software Engineer?

It will take a lot of hard work and dedication to be a successful software engineer. There’s no easy way out. The best way to get better as a software engineer is to actually work and code on a daily basis. Always keep working to improve your skills.

Successful software engineers are often characterized with these descriptions: 

  • They are constantly learning.
  • They are willing to take risks and try new methods.
  • They are flexible and adaptable.
  • They are problem solvers.
  • They can analyze complex problems quickly and efficiently.
  • They are able to communicate effectively.
  • They must be detail oriented and organized.

They also love what they do for a living. They enjoy what they do and love to help people. They do what’s right and are honest. They like to work together. They are self-driven and want to do well.

Is Software Engineering Right for You?

Whether or not software engineering is a good fit for you depends on you – your personality and interests. Do you like to work with a team of software engineers? It’s not just coding by yourself like it is in school. Some people thrive in such an environment, but others do not.

Most software developers are introverts, in my opinion. It’s more preferable for them to remain indoors and get their work done in peace. However, many software developers also value interpersonal communication. And that means the responsibility ultimately rests with you.

Patrick Lee, who went to Stanford, says that if you study programming for a couple of weeks, you can usually tell if you’ll like it or not. After a few classes, he realized that he loved programming and using software to solve problems.

Here are some signs that you might be a good fit for programming:

  • You like puzzles, strategy games, chess, crosswords, and similar games. 
  • You’re able to sit quietly and spend time on the computer for hours at a time. 
  • You’re good at math and thinking logically. 
  • You like to be constantly challenged and learn new things. 

Is Software Engineering Hard? Final Thoughts

Software engineering is hard and it’s not for everyone. When programming, it can be lonely and a lot of long nights if you’re trying to fix a bug in the software. But anyone can become a successful software engineer if they work hard and don’t give up.

To learn more about other areas of study and their difficulty, check out these articles: 

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Written by:

Chris Wood
I graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from Stanford University. I’ve been working as a Software Engineer for the past 5 years. While working in this field I’ve had the pleasure of developing software in a wide variety of industries. I look forward to using my experience in order to find a role where I can utilize my creativity and passion for solving complex software engineering problems.