Brawnski, a Senior Software Engineer at DRW tells us about the first time he knew he wanted to be a programmer, his team’s responsibilities, and what helped him prepare for his career in the industry.
Can you tell us about a time when you applied computer science to your role early in your career?
I applied my computer science degree on my very first day of my very first job. I was assigned GUI development work on a chat application. Whenever someone joined or left the channel, the application would freeze. My senior team members were stumped as to why this was happening. They were smart and most had engineering backgrounds. However, no one realized what was so obvious to me when I looked at the sorting algorithm being called to sort usernames every time someone joined or left the channel. Astute CS grads can probably guess what was happening here. Those who are curious can google ‘Quicksort worst-case scenario’ for an explanation.
When did you know you wanted to be a software developer?
I was fortunate enough to attend a school with a programming curriculum. I knew I wanted to be a programmer after I wrote my first program. I have never wondered about my career or what I would do with the rest of my life since that day.
Can you tell us about your responsibilities on your team?
I work for the risk department and write software to measure firmwide risk at every aggregation level across any time horizon. Coincidentally, a large part of my job as a development manager is mitigating the risks of software development while innovating and leveraging novel technologies. When I’m not communicating, collaborating, and coordinating with my team or between other teams, I’m writing and reviewing code.
Are there any specific courses in school that helped you prepare for your career?
I think talented software engineers underestimate the teamwork required to solve challenging problems. However, the complexity of real-world problems requires teams of developers to work together. My advice would be to find courses where you can learn to work, program, and collaborate with others. Perhaps take a psychology class or learn about mental models and biases. Software developers are thought workers and being aware of how you think and deal with your subconscious biases will help you navigate your workplace and understand your customers.
What are the three most important skills to have to be a successful in your role?
After you reach a certain level of programming competence, your success is correlated more to your diligence, patience, and empathy than it is your logic, analytic skills, or ability to crank out code.
What do you know now that you wish you knew as you were starting your career?
I had NO idea what a trading firm was until my junior year in college. A housemate of mine worked at a trading firm and found an internship at a Swiss bank. The culture of trading as portrayed in memes, tropes, and Hollywood doesn’t always match with reality. The industry is inaccessible to most and too much is left to the imagination. I try to change that when and where I can.
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