Name: Jess Pavlin
Profession: Software Engineer
Software engineers may often be low profile, but they are behind the scenes pretty much everywhere. From your iPhone to the ATM on the corner to the website of that university you just got accepted to, programmers have their fingers in everything. This month we meet a software engineer who fell into her career path almost by accident, but ended up finding a new (nerdy) passion!
What is a Software Engineer?
It varies a lot from position to position, but generally we work as a team figuring out ways to solve technical and mathematical problems, and then implementing those solutions in a variety of programming languages.
What is a typical day like for you?
I get to work at around 10 am. I generally have about three or four different projects on the go, and I open each one in a different window and work on all three, completing pieces of each until lunch. The tech team tends to be pretty close and all go out to lunch together at 2ish. We work hard until 7ish, but generally make time to take a couple breaks to refresh with silly nerdy fun. It's a wonderful combination of hard work and good fun.
Did you always want to be a Software Engineer?
Absolutely not. I started off in political science with minors in sociology and math. Political science was my driving force in life, but I found it very depressing and was taking various math classes to maintain my sanity. After a couple years, I realized that I could contribute something far more valuable through math (since I was better at it then poli sci), and sort of fell into compute science. One day I hope that I can combine these two passions, and be a computer programmer for an NGO.
What courses in high school prepared you for this field?
Most classes in high school are sufficiently general to influence everything you do after high school. I got into university based on my social sciences not on my maths and sciences. That being said, my high school math classes were crucial to my university math and computer science classes.
Where did you go to university/college?
How did you decide where to go?
It was a good school with an international reputation. I also love Montreal.
What is the coolest part of your job?
I love the people that I work with. Programmers work really hard, but tend to play hard too. Also,the long hours that you are almost guaranteed to be working means that you become really close with the people you work with. So every day becomes this wonderful blend of fun and hard work. The coolest part of my job is that I wake up every day excited about going to work.
What's the worst part of your job?
Sometimes the hours can be a little long.
What's the salary range for this particular job and field?
In Canada, about $45,000-$75,000.
Ooooops! Everyone makes mistakes so what was the dumbest thing you've ever done at work?
I baked a cake for a friend's birthday and put sparklers on it and one of the lit sparklers fell off and set the carpet on fire.
Any advice that you would give others seeking a similar career?
Do what you love to do. If there is a programming language that you love or part of computer science that blows you away, then love it, study every part of it, and practice it every day. It might take a couple more months to find a job in that particular field, but when you find a position that you can really contribute to and that makes you really happy every day of your life becomes significant.
What was the last book you read? Jam it or can it?
I just got back from a leave of absence from work during which I traveled through India and Nepal and read Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts. It has nothing to do with programming but everything to do with what makes India amazing and I recommend it to anyone who is considering going.
Best garage sale find
I just bought this clock from an estate sale this weekend that I absolutely adore. It's from the '50s and has so much style. I think some people find estate sales depressing, but I think it's an opportunity to give someone's possessions a second life.
Meat. Yes or no?
I believe that MODERATION is the final word on all things food related. There is a place for anything and everything, but too much of anything will lead to illness.
What country would you most like to visit?
I just got back from India which was my number one place to go for a really long time. According to Facebook, my next two destinations are Japan and Lebanon.
What's the best advice your mother gave you?
My mom, Margaret Pavlin, is awesome and has taught me many important things over the years, but there are two things that really stand out: One, "Never miss an opportunity to go to the bathroom." Two, "Everyone has something to teach you." Both were said in passing but come up every day.
If you were to sing a song at a karaoke bar, what would it be?
No question: Midnight Train, Journey. The greatest karaoke song of all time.