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Unlocking My Dream Career: Gauging Career Risks in Software Engineering

Animesh Kumar
Lead Software Engineer – Full Stack
Riverwoods, IL
Pronouns: He/Him

Childlike curiosity

As a kid I loved to dismantle toys. I did it because I wanted to see how they worked (though for that reason, I always seemed to have less toys than my older brother). I used to imagine building a robot that could move toys and furniture at the press of button. Anything seemed possible. The curiosity and big dreams in my little eyes stayed with me as I grew older. I eventually discovered programming and computer hardware, which fascinated me. Programming then went from being a passion to becoming my profession.

Designing end-to-end

At Discover, I’m a full stack software engineer. Being a part of Discover gives me a sense of immense pride – in myself, my work and my connectedness to everything here. I design and develop end-to-end software applications independently by handling coding, databases, servers/platforms and user interfaces. I work on each and every layer of software architecture— from CSS and JavaScript to Java REST/SOAP APIs, to databases—and I work on the intercommunication between each layer.

Pioneering new innovations

One of the most important jobs that my team does is proof of concepts (POC). We explore new possibilities that haven’t been used in the department before. We’ve pioneered many tools and technical innovations. Being part of cutting-edge pilots is exciting and fun, but because we’re the first, we’ve also faced some major challenges. Sometimes it take hours, or even days, to cross a huddle. Luckily I have an awesome team, so we struggle together and overcome any challenges in our way.

Tackling new tech stacks

Because of my unique role, I work both with technologies I’m good at, and technologies that I need to explore. The various tech stacks challenge me at times, and other times the tech lets me demonstrate my expertise. Learning and exploring each day in my job keeps me motivated and gives me a sense of progress in my overall life.

Blog writing

I also love sharing my knowledge, so I started writing technical blogs to help other people. Being able to explain a topic to someone else (where they clearly understand), is a signal to myself that I truly know a subject. Equally as challenging is simplifying my explanation so that someone with less background knowledge can understand. I’ve come a long way in my knowledge-sharing evolution of both explaining to fellow experts and newcomers— and I’ve still got a ways to go!

Taking a career risk

Whenever I’ve taken a new step in my career, I’ve taken on some level of risk. As with any decision, there’s always a chance of failure, but I never took blind risks. I always took gauged risks. However, I always reminded myself that “If I succeed, I will set an example. If I fail, I’ll have a lesson.”

Knowing when to pivot

To give an example, early in my career I worked at a company in the electronics department. After a few months, I felt a little lost and wasn’t fully enjoying the job. I wanted to program and I didn’t think that would be possible at that company. So I decided to take a risk and get into the industry I was passionate about.

My do or die moment

To make the leap, I decided to pursue an expensive, full time certification course. I didn’t have enough money, so I planned to save money for two months and start the course in the third month. In 2009, this was a risky plan because of the Great Recession. Job hunting wasn’t that easy in an economic downturn. The certification course was my “do or die” moment. I knew that if I got through it, I’d shape my path to success. If I failed, I’d be done with my dream career. I took my chance and with (a lot of) hard work, I landed into my first job in software. That’s how I began my dream journey. I’ve never looked back since. The only truth I believe today is, to turn a dream into reality takes hard work and perseverance.

Learning to be expressive

I would tell my younger self to be more expressive and outspoken. It’s good to be humble, but it’s equally as important to express yourself. In the past, I used to let things pass without expressing how I felt. As time has gone on, I realized that the ability to express ourselves openly and authentically is one of the strong pillar of any relationship. I’ve learned from my past mistakes. My wife has helped me work on communication too. She’s always reminding me how important it is to express ourselves, good or bad— just express in a humble way.

 

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